DECEMBER 1, 2009
Oddly, I almost watched Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (Spanish: La Marca Del Hombre-Lobo, or The Mark Of The Wolf-Man) on Sunday night, but fearing that it was in Spanish with subtitles, I opted for Summer School, which I knew for sure was in English. So I was surprised to learn that Paul Naschy died the next day, especially when I passed up his film for a school-set indie (the same way I could describe School Killer, which was my introduction to him). As news of his death spread today, I made up for my error and loaded it up on the queue in order to sort of pay my respects. Adieu, Mr. Naschy (aka Jacinto Molina Alvarez).
Anyway, I wasn’t aware until after I finished watching it that Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror was actually the first of his series (which includes Curse Of The Devil, the only other of his "Waldemar Daninsky" films that I have seen to date). And I was surprised by that, as my chief complaint of the film (which I otherwise liked) is that it often felt like a sequel to a film I hadn’t seen, and was cursing those who told me that I didn’t need to see the films in order as they had little connection anyway. I also learned that the US version was missing the first ten minutes (replaced with a hilariously silly animated “explanation” for the film’s title, which was a decision made on the US distributor’s part - the film has nothing to do with Frankenstein), but this version had the longest running time listed on IMDb (93 minutes), plus the animated sequence, so I have no idea what the hell was happening.
I mean, I wasn’t confused really, just sort of felt out of the loop at times, especially when two doctors of some sort show up, and turn out to be vampires (this makes the changed title even sillier in retrospect - the movie has everything BUT a Frankenstein). They seemed like they literally walked in from another movie, and I began wondering what film they were in and why Naschy didn’t know they were vampires already. And then I was totally reading into things the wrong way - there’s a scene where Naschy helps a couple move their wagon, and when he does, I assumed it was from his super werewolf strength that he got in one of the “other” movies. All of these misunderstandings - it’s like the Three’s Company version of watching a horror movie.
The only time I was legit having trouble understanding what was happening was during the showdown between Naschy’s good werewolf and some other guy’s villainout werewolf. As they are well-to-do Spanish men in human form, this means that they wear identical flowy white shirts and gray slacks, rendering their fight a bit hard to follow (“Who is on top of who?”). Let’s get a vest or some blue up in this motherfucker.
Otherwise, it’s just as fun as Curse of the Devil (tho sadly lacking the gratuitous nudity and gore in that film - this one is rated GP, which is 1960s for PG). I dig how the film seems to be a blend of the old Universal movies with the modern Hammer approach (i.e. color, some blood), and unlike some other Spanish horror films, isn’t bogged down in too much mumbo jumbo. And like I’ve said before - I just plain enjoy the Wolf Man story, and this one has enough changes to the existing template to give it its own identity (but not going completely off in a different (wrong) direction). It’s certainly the first one with a husband and wife swinger vampire team.
Speaking of those two (who seem to have been an influence for the Richard E. Gant and Sandra Bernhard characters in Hudson Hawk), there’s a part that almost seems like it was an outtake that was left in the film. They are running away, and then suddenly stop and begin dancing around. That he is dressed as a complete Lugosi ripoff just adds to the spectacle, especially when he runs up to the camera and obscures the lens with his delightful red cape. It’s random little moments like this that I love, and also bemoan that most American filmmakers are too gutless to add stuff like this in their films (or when they do - see Spider-Man 3 - they are criticized by morons who would rather get back to big budget CGI sequences).
Another odd thing the director does is filter the ever-loving shit out of the film. Scenes with Naschy turning into a wolf are often colored red, and there’s another scene has the odd stigma of being “blue” as well as drained of color. Not sure if all of these were intentional shifts or some odd issue with the 3D (it was released in 3D in some areas, I guess), so maybe I should just find the real version and watch that before saying anymore on the film.
Well, all that matters is, I liked it, and you should too. And now I will try to watch the rest of the series in order and hopefully with their proper titles/running times.
What say you?