|The poster in question|
Our friend (horror novice) Heather was admiring our The Werewolf Vs. Vampire Woman poster (the American title of Werewolf Shadow) that hangs in our living room and said she wouldn't mind seeing it. I immediately jumped at the chance to make a big deal out of it and instituted Werewolf Wednesday, demonstrating my love for alliteration in the process. So every Wednesday that we can we watch a wolfy double feature. Last week it was The Howling and Silver Bullet for an episode of Hello! This Is The Doomed Show which will soon be hitting the internets. This week it's The Wolf Man and Werewolf Shadow.
1941's The Wolf Man is as good as any place to start I think. Universal had tried their hand at a werewolf film six years earlier with Werewolf Of London that was not enormously successful. Lead actor Henry Hull wasn't willing to sit in a makeup chair for hours on end even though Jack Pierce had worked out a wolfman makeup design that would be identical to the one used in The Wolf Man. The makeup used was much lighter and that probably helped people to think it was too similar to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For me the film is most memorable for the inclusion of actor Warner Oland who was at the time already playing Charlie Chan.
The thing that always strikes me about The Wolf Man is how compact the film is. We are in and out of there in an economical 70 minutes or so. Character introductions, curse, fight, resolution, bam! we are done. Oh and this:
|The werewolf as astronomer|
|This guy was Dracula|
Oh yeah! Bela Lugosi is in this! Claude Rains and Ralph Bellamy too. What a cast. This affords me an opportunity to explain to Heather the difference between a wolfman and a werewolf. A wolfman is a werewolf but a werewolf is not necessarily a wolfman. Glad I cleared that up.
|Wolfman and Werewolf|
Lon Chaney Jr. would go on to play The Wolfman in all of the characters appearances of the 1940's. I've always liked him and the fact that he couldn't play a wolfman in Frankenstein's Bloody Terror directly led to the career of Paul Naschy. Lon is very good in this, charming and friendly at the beginning and full of wide eyed terror later on.
1971's Werewolf Shadow is easily one of my top twenty favorite horror films. About five years ago or so I discovered the mighty Paul Naschy when I bought a Horror Rises From The Tomb/The Loreley's Grasp dvd set. We watched it, liked it, and promptly forgot about it. Later on we received The Werewolf Vs. The Vampire Woman from Netflix and while we found it entertaining it too was quickly forgotten. Then a third time (I don't remember exactly what we watched) everything clicked together.
|The Man himself|
For Valentine's Day one year Elizabeth bought me Deimos' absolutely fantastic dvd release of Werewolf Shadow (it was soon to go out of print, Deimos was very sadly soon to go out of business.) What a difference a cleaned up, widescreen print makes!
|Maybe the most attractive woman in all of 70's Eurohorror|
|Don't go Genevieve!|
Curses, ancient crypts, madwomen, zombie monks, werewolves, Pierre, vampires and Satan himself make appearances in what was Naschy's breakthrough film. Leon Klimovsky did a fantastic job as director (the first of many film collaborations with Naschy) right down to the slow motion vampire scenes (slow motion also appeared the same year in Amando de Ossorio's also classic Tombs Of The Blind Dead. de Ossorio fans and Naschy fans can now argue over who came up with the idea first. I think they both did.) to the werewolf and vampire battle at the end, (a rare moment of truth in advertising) it is Eurohorror at it's finest.
|El Hombre Lobo|
I recommend that you see this asap if you haven't. Then immediately listen to Naschycast's brilliant show on Werewolf Shadow. They do a very detailed rundown of the film that is highly informative and entertaining. You can find Naschycast on itunes. Werewolf Shadow is episode #10.
But Brad, what did Heather think? She enjoyed both films. She commented on the (non ridiculous) music in Werewolf Shadow and enjoyed the slow motion bits of it. Not only was it her first Paul Naschy film it was also her first Eurohorror film. I think it was also a good place to start. We have been bombarding her with horror films so I think The Wolf Man was a nice change of pace. She did comment on the wolf transformations saying that they were different than The Howling which she enjoyed. Special effects came a long way from 1941 to 1971 to 1981. I also had her download the Naschycast episode. It's surely the best bit of homework that anyone has ever received!
Yes today is Thursday. But we watch on Wednesday night and Werewolf Thursday doesn't sound as good to me. Besides, when would we do Thrilling Thursday?
More screenshots! Visual spoilers for the uninitiated!
|This didn't happen|