My Memories of Spain’s Wolfman
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact date that I was introduced to the work of Spain’s prolific horror actor, writer and director Paul Naschy. I speculate that it was Spring of 1975, I was ten years old and WPIX, channel 11, a New York based television station, was showing Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror at 8pm on a Saturday evening. Two things I remember thinking about the film was that it was very cheap looking, production wise it was a major disappointment compared to the Universal Horror features which were being shown on Chiller Theater. Universals work from the 30's and 40's was opulent, grand in it’s scale, perfection down to the minutest detail. Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror was very harsh in it’s editing, it was dubbed and that stood out like a sore thumb back then, and though it had Gothic set pieces it was based in modern day (hence 1968, when the film was made). On the plus side, I remember being startled by just how violent the film. Without a doubt, that had to be the most ferocious werewolf I had ever seen in a film. In one scene he attacks a farmer and his daughter in their home. He tears out the farmers throat and tosses the screaming man onto a lit fireplace. As the farmer screams, blood pours out of his mouth. He attacks the daughter and tears her throat as well. He jumps around like a real wild animal, snorting and making all sorts of ghoulish sounds. That image would forever stay with me. Finally getting the chance to see the full Spanish cut of the film so many years later, and owing to the fact that the source was in scope, one fully gets to bask in the cinematic glory that Mark of the Wolfman (the films original Spanish title) is actually a very well made and completely enjoyable film, but given that I had a regular airial antenna B/W TV as a kid, a films scope was not what made it stand out, the limitations of TV at the time had their charm but were not always complimentary to a motion pictures presentation.
At around the same time that I saw this film on TV, I was also picking up a series of small, paper back books that my local bookstore carried. These books, made in Britain, and published by Bounty Press, covered specific genres usually tied in with horror, fantasy and action. One of the books, called The Seal of Dracula, highlighted vampire films. They focused on the recent output at the time, and gave extra care to examine the European films. It was there that I finally got introduced to Paul Naschy as more than just a name. I found out he came from Spain, that although most of his work was shot in Spain, it was in fact co-financed by many different European companies. What really struck me was the pictures from the films that featured so much violence and sex. In fact, while other kids were getting off on their fathers Playboy or Penthouse magazines, I was drooling over these scantily clad Euro chicks. And it seemed cool to folks around the house because I was reading books about film, so it seemed constructive. In fact my sisters often bought me the books, I guess it was a good thing that they didn't really look through them before buying them. It also made me curious about seeking out more of Paul Naschy’s work.
It’s hard to say where I next encountered a Naschy film. I speculate it was a late 70's TV showing of Fury of the Wolfman. Fury of the Wolfman is so piss poor that it made Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror look like Gone With The Wind. Naschy often related that the film was directed by an alcoholic and the evidence is bore out upon watching the film, which is so absurd and poorly put together that it makes for one unintentionally halarious experience.I believe after watching this I took a Paul Naschy break, which lasted quite some time, until the advent of home video viewing. In 1983 I bought my first video machine, which was a Betamax. At the time most video stores had a VHS and a Beta section. By 1986 the Beta sections were flimsy, to the say the least, and I finally switched over to VHS, still retaining my Beta. I did a lot of recording off public TV with that Beta, and one of things that I ended up recording and keeping was Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror. Thank God I did because it was never issued on video. With video stores in constant need of product, there was plenty of rare material hitting the shelves. Thanks to companies like Unicorn Video, Super Video, All Seasons Entertainment, etc...I was finally able to see Paul Naschy films and in most cases totally uncut. Very often, the title was changed (for instance, Hunchback of the Morgue became Rue Morgue Massacres on the ASE label) or in some cases Paul Naschy’s name misspelled (Paul Nashy), but if you knew what you were looking for, you could see straight through the attempts at copyright infringement and recognize that it was one of the Naschy titles you were long seeking. House of Psychotic Women, which had also been known as Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, was a personal favorite due to the lurid artwork which adorned the Super Video cover. It featured a man in chains being tortured by three voluptuous females (since Super Video was an arm of Independent International, who distributed the film theatrically, this image was also the theatrical poster) and it was hard to pass up a video that promised so much perversity. It was a wonderland of movies for a film buff during the early and mid eighties, the hight of the video boom. People were delighted at the concept of being able to rent a movie that they hand't seen in a dogs age, or perhaps they saw it on TV but it was cut to ribbons, and now they had a chance to see it uncut. If I wasn't renting and watching stuff with my asshole girlfriend at the time, friend and actor Paul Richichi and myself were doing Wednesday night video screenings at either his place or mine. Usually the night consisted of one piece of porn, and two sleaze flicks (this was a rent two get the third free type deal). More than once Naschy's films passed through the VCR, and we would laugh about his resemblence to John Balushi. At one point in the night we'd be watching Peter North blast a load of cock snot on Rachel Ryans face then 80 minutes later we'd be watching Paul Naschy tear out some jerkoff's throat. Very healthy viewing indeed. Beer and weed, we were in pretty good shape watching these films. One of the best moments was Pauls wife coming home from work just in time to watch a nude Lina Romey drown herself in a pool of blood from Jess Franco's Erotikill (1972). That look on her face man, I tell ya, some people just couldn't comprehend as to why we watched things like this. I was three sheets to the wind and I was in heaven, VHS was my heroin. Just for the record I want it noted that both myself and another guy who was co-editor of the "Exploitation Journal" held a film festival in the college we attended and used a video projector to show Erotikill, Night of the Bloody Apes, and various other pieces of cinematic shit to a completely numb audience. This had to be 1987, and no one was hip to this type of horror scene at the time. I've been building this temple of worship to euro cinema for a long time.
Paul Naschy and his relation to horror cinema is fascinating for many different reasons. One really needs to point out they Naschy never really did anything to advance the genre, he never brought anything new to it, rather he set the clock back by simply revitalizing the old Universal Monster movies from the 30's and 40's. What he DID do was add an oddball European view to the films which at the time called for the ante of sex and violence to be bumped up to extreme measures. So watching his films was like getting a multi-vitamin shot right in the arm; it feed you a steady and heady mix of monsters, tits, and blood. And to the perpetual teenager in all of us, you couldn't’t have wished for anything more from a movie. Everything is regressive in a Paul Naschy movie. From time worn plot lines to his very look, Naschy was old Europe in present day. He was a stocky fellow, prematurely balding, and hardly what anyone would think of when defining a horror movie star. He was considered fit, at the time before being “cut” really signified athletic. Mussolini had the same look, and he signified the look of the “fit” man for the 1930's. Naschy is also a perfect example of a fan who made films for fans. In other words, Naschy credits Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman as his all time favorite horror film, and he claimed it was this film that influenced his desire to write movies of a similar theme and subject. He knew what the horror film meant to him, and he knew what those elements meant to other fans of the genre, and he made sure those ingredients where in each of his films. That didn't’t ensure that all his films were good though. In fact, it seems every other film was good, as Naschy was often plagued by working with some poor directors. Some of his best work was done with directors such as Leon Klimovsky (The Werewolf Vs. The Vampire Woman), Javier Aguirre (Hunchback of the Morgue) and Carlos Aured (Curse of the Devil). Later, Naschy would turn to directing with various degrees of success, Inquisition being the title most known, and again that owing to the vivid video box art portraying the horrors of the Inquisition on the body of a nubile female.
I meet Paul Naschy at a Fangoria convention in NY City in the mid nineties, he was a very distinguished gentleman, very proud of his work in the genre and very much humbled by the love of his fans, who were so proud to finally be able to meet this living legend. He spoke no English, needed to have an English speaking interpreter, yet fans hung on every word he spoke, he just managed to captivate that audience. He signed a poster I had (this was before the rip off fraud of having to pay a celebrity to sign anything was in full swing), I thanked him and moved on. A few years back Rob Hauschild (of Wildeye Releasing) and I sent a representative to Spain to record an interview with both Naschy and his frequent co-star Jack Taylor for a project we proposed to do but at this point has been put on the back burner. This interview, to our knowledge, was one of the last interviews done with Paul Naschy before his death this past Fall 2009.
For me, Naschy is a personality that I became aware of as a result of local TV programming, hence my memories of Naschy always transport me back to a much more innocent time in my life, a time when I was not encumbered by life’s hardships and the headaches and pressures associated with adulthood. A time were I could kick back in the comfort of my parents house and allow channel 11 to whisk me off to some other land inhabited by some other monster that I could safely watch from the comfort of a couch. Hence he’s firmly rooted in my childhood, which is not a bad place to be...
Here's a list of rare Naschy films that Cinefear proudly offers:
AGONIZANDO EN EL CRIMEN (1968) Here is an early Argentine Giallo that tells the story of a young medical student (Juan Logar) who's fiance' is severly injured in an accident and rushed to the hospital on what was supposed to be their wedding day. The surgeon tells the student to "trust his hands", but ends up killing the fiance' during the surgery. Needless to say, our medical student doesn't take this too well and proceeds to go on a "slaughter the surgeons" rampage, removing surgeons hands and burrying them by a rosebush he's planted for his deceased fiance'. Keep your eyes peeled for Paul Naschy, who appears as a police officer toward the end of the film. Of interest, Naschy would pitch the idea for Mark of the Wolfman to director Enrique López Eguiluz, who would make that film with Naschy the very same year. In Spanish with English subtitles. ORDER|
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (1973) Uncut Paul Naschy shocker also known as House of Psychotic Women. Very scary for those of us who have dated psychotic women. Sexual hi jinks and blood abound. In English with Dutch Subtitles. Can you stand it?! ORDER
THE CRIMES OF PETIOT (1973) An early and very interesting "giallo" with Paul Naschy playing seriel Killer Petiot, who murdered people during the Nazi occupation of France but continued to do so long after the occupation was over. Actually a nice quality version of this film conplete with English subtitles, these entries of Naschy's that don't involve monsters (per say) are actually quite riviting cinema, well worth searching out! |ORDER|
DEATH OF A HOODLUM (1975) Another crazy Paul Naschy and Leon Klimovsky collaboration. This one has Naschy as a violent sociopath on the run from a recent jewel robbery. He takes refuge with an old girlfriend, her crippled husband and their daughter. He proiceeds to rape the wife and daughter, but runs into trouble once the rest of the mob find out where he is hiding. The whole house erupts in violence in the dramatic conclusion. Naschy's character has a violent past which is flashbacked on, and he is also deaf and has to wear a hearing aid in order to hear anything. Odd ball charactorization from Naschy makes this one stand out. Wide, in Spanish with English subtitles. |ORDER|
THE DEVILS POSSESED (1974 Aka The Devils Marshall) Paul Naschy plays a psychotic ruler who's wife talks him into procurring young girls so they can use the blood and have the alchemist turn it into gold. This is a middle ages based drama that has incredible violence and lots of "Robin Hood and his Merry Men" type nonesense to please the kiddies. Full screen in English. ORDER
DRACULA JAGT FRANKENSTEIN (1969 Aka Dracula Vs. Frankenstein) Here's another Paul Naschy classic. In this one his werewolf is revived by Michael Rennie, here playing an alien somewhat similar to the one he played in The Day The Earth Stood Still. Naschy saves the earth from a scheme hatched by the aliens to bring the earth to it's feet by reviving the classic monsters, Dracula, Frankenstein and the Mummy. With Karin Dor and Patty Shepard. This version is letter boxed and it's in German. ORDER
A DRAGON FLY FOR EACH CORPSE (1974) Here's a Spanish made Giallo with Paul Naschy as a police inspector after a killer who feels that his job is top clean up the streets of scum and slime. Gory murder after gory murder occurs, and after each killing the murderer leaves a dragon fly pin on each corpse. In English. Directed by the reliable Leon Klimovsky. ORDER
EXORCISM (1974): Spanish director Juan Bosch gives us this flick, one of the first to rip off the Exorcist, In which the deceased father of a young girl takes possession of his daughter in order to pay back his unfaithful wife. A priest (Paul Naschy), must now exorcise the girl in order to get rid of the disruptive spirit. The spirit even takes possesion of the pet dog! This is the full, uncut Dutch video release, presented for your video pleasure. In English, to boot. Knock your socks off. |ORDER|
THE FRENCHMANS ORCHARD (1978) Another in a line of serial killer films made by Paul Naschy. This one tells the real life story of a boarding house owner (Naschy) who robs rouges and gamblers of their money, kills them and buries them in the backyard of the boarding house. The film contrasts his life as a loving husband and father with his professional life of running a decadent boarding house complete with gambling, prostitution and booze. Again, this film is very rare, and it will hold your attention to the final frame. Not the best quality, off an old Spanish video cassettte, but complete with English fan subs.|ORDER|
THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (1972) A Paul Naschy classic, this one coming from a German DVD source, and this being one of the best versions out there, letter boxed, and in English. Paul plays a sympathetic Hunchback who is used by an evil Scientist (Alberto Dalbes) in procuring the bodies of lovely young women to feed the scientists monster which is growing in a tank. Unbelievable amount of violence in this classic. Don't pass it up. ORDER
INQUISIRION (1976 aka. INQUISICION) A Paul Naschy classic! Here he plays an Inquisitor who comes to France looking for witches. He finds them when a mutant with one eye starts accusing young girls in the village because they wont sleep with him. Features some quite decent torture chamber scenes including a very realistic nipple removal, you'll actually find yourself wincing. Nice wide screen print. With Daniela Giordano (Hot) and Monica Randall. UPGRADE - Letterboxed, uncut, English! ORDER
LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO (1968 aka. Mark of the Wolfman, Frankenstein's Bloody Terror) Here's the original Paul Naschy classic, uncut, and wide screen to boot! This is the film that introduced us to Waldemar Daninski, Polish nobleman turned werewolf. Really nice lush colors in this monster mash classic. With Dyanic Zurakowska. In Spanish. ORDER
MUERTE DE UN QUINQUI (1975) Intense crime thriller from Naschy's best director Leon Klimovsky. Naschy is a psycho who participates in a jewel robbery that goes haywire. He hides out in the house of a crippled athlete and he begins to play cruel mind games with them until they turn the tables on him. Naschy's character is made more interesting in this film in that he's deaf. In Spanish with English subtitles. Well worth it. ORDER
NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (1975) One of the best of the Naschy titles, with georgeous quality from a Spanish DVD complete with an English dub track. It's never looked this good before. This is, however, the clothed Spanish version, but even with that you still get plenty of peek-a-boo flesh throughout the film. This is perhaps one of his best werewolf films, hardly a dull moment, nice production values and excellent werewolf action. ORDER
PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK (1975) Paul Naschy sci-fi classic has a group of party people having orgies in the basement of an old house missing an end of the world scenario only to re-emerge to a world of people gone blind and insane. They barracade themselves in the house only to have the blind psychos trying to break in and kill the survivors. A real decent take off on Night of the Living Dead. ORDER
SEVEN MURDERS FOR SCOTLAND YARD (1971 Aka Jack, The Mangler of London) Another of Paul Naschy's classic giallos. A vicious serial killer is doing the old "Jack the Ripper" bit again. Only this time he's cannibalizing the corpses. Paul Naschy is prime suspect number 1, a drunk ex-trapeze artists who's wife was the first victim of the killer. In English. ORDER
LA VENGANZA DE LA MOMIA (1973 Aka The Mummy's Revenge) Another Paul Naschy classic, this one featuring him as a brutal mummy who loves to smash pretty young things faces in. Literally. Gore galore! This is the uncut Spanish language version and it's letter boxed, hence giving more scope to the proceedings. Hence, it's very rare indeed. With Jack Taylor and Helga Line. MAJOR UPGRADE- Off the Spanish DVD complete with English subtitles, it's never looked better than this. Get it now! ORDER
WEREWOLF'S SHADOW (1971): The best of the Paul Naschy werewolf flicks, completely uncut off a Greek master, letter boxed and in English. Plays like a warped Grimm's fairytale, with more breast and blood than you can shake a stick at. Featuring the cute little German chick Gaby (Mark of the Devil) Fuchs as his love interest, and Patty Shepard as Countess Waldessa, Vampire extrodinaire! Directed by Leon Klimovsky. |ORDER|