MARCH 16, 2011
I quite enjoyed the other two Waldemar Daninsky movies I have seen, but for whatever reason I just wasn’t into Night Of The Werewolf (Spanish: El Retorno Del Hombre Lobo), which came after those two chronologically, but there doesn’t seem to be any sort of continuity between them. However it was the 8th Daninsky film by my (IMDb’s) count, so maybe by then Paul Naschy had run out of ideas, or there were production snafus that resulted in a less than satisfying film. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.
No one can argue that the film’s central conflict is a bit underdeveloped. Daninsky is pitted against Countess Bathory this time around, and while I am tired of her usage in films, this WAS 1981, before she became worn-out, so I didn’t put that against them. However, their “battle” comes across as something of an afterthought; he wants to stop her from taking over the world, which would be fine if they were a bit pro-active about it. But instead Naschy spends most of the movie romancing a young girl (can’t blame him – she is quite stunning) and killing random townsfolk while under the werewolf spell, with Bathory sort of on the back of his mind. It’s a very disjointed movie; one of those films where you can re-arrange the scenes however you like and it wouldn’t have much of an effect, if any.
In fact, if not for the absolutely spectacular transfer, which offers practically Blu-ray-levels of quality, I would suspect that I was watching an edited version of the film. However, the running time is exactly what is listed on IMDb (minus a few seconds due to the lack of an end credits sequence, which is inexplicably available separately on the disc), and apart from some odd sound edits, nothing appears to be missing or re-edited. There’s not a lot of action in the movie, but when there is we see some minor gore, and there’s a healthy smattering of nudity as well. Apparently the film WAS re-edited for the US and renamed The Craving, but again, I can find nothing about a longer (or shorter) runtime.
While we’re on the subject of English versions, I must insist that you watch the film with the English dubbed track, instead of the subtitles with the original Spanish language. As I am discovering more and more, the subs are dumbed down, whereas the dubbed track appears to be a more direct translation of the original. Por ejemplo:
Dubbed: “Have you seen the coat of arms on his tunic?”
Subtitles: “Have you noticed his shield?”
As you can see, there’s a distinct difference, giving the dialogue on the subtitles a sort of “summed up” feel. And in this particular case, I wouldn’t even have known what they were talking about, because he didn’t display a “shield”, however he DID have a very distracting coat of arms on his otherwise colorless tunic – it looked like a giant colorful sticker that someone had slapped on before the cameras started rolling. Also, listening to the Spanish track would spare you from hearing such gems as “Garlic up to your ass!”, or the colorful (mainly blue), insanely angry things a pair of would-be Lotharios shout at our heroine after she pushes them into the pool. And the dubbing isn’t even all that bad; obviously the mouths don’t always match perfectly, but the actors put some effort into it and it blends with the original audio better than others I’ve heard.
And you know, it’s not a bad film by any means. You gotta love the sheer number of monsters here – werewolves, vampires, mummies, and witches are all accounted for by the time the film concludes. The werewolf makeup has obviously improved since the previous films, and the final 15 minutes or so are a hoot, with lots of fog machines, people turning into a variety of movie monsters, flying coffins, etc. (though they overuse the traditional “fade” sequence to show someone transforming from monster to human or vice versa – three times in under 10 minutes!). Also, the opening titles play out over the amazing Tentacles theme, which seriously made me cheer. So it definitely has its moments, but overall it just lacks that je ne sais quoi that the others had.
The disc has some minor extras; the Spanish title sequences, a pair of extended scenes featuring supporting characters who weren’t interesting anyway, and the overlong trailer. There’s also a bunch of stills, lobby cards, and posters, but I didn’t bother to look at them. Naschy also provides an intro (one that seemingly renders the chapter selection menu worthless, because no matter what you pick it always starts on his bit), where he rambles about what the film is about (“Vampires, and werewolves...”), but otherwise doesn’t provide any interviews or commentary, which is a shame. The film seemed to be influenced by Hammer’s productions, much more so than the others I’ve seen, and I was curious if that was intentional or just a coincidence. I also would have liked to have known whether or not HE considered it one of his better efforts, and if not, what he thought was to blame. I was also a bit curious about the aspect ratio – the movie is 1.85:1 but the deleted scenes are 1.66:1 (and the intro to them even specifically says that the reason they weren’t put back into the film is because of the different frame size – well, why?).
At any rate, it didn’t deter me from wanting to check out the others. I have 9 to go, and while I am pretty sure they’re not all available in the US (certainly not with as nice of a transfer as this at any rate), hopefully the next one I watch will restore my enjoyment in the “series”.
What say you?