Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman (1971)

Spanish filmmaker Paul Naschy, born Jacinto Molina, played the cursed Polish nobleman Waldemar Daninsky in twelve different movies. Thirteen, if you count the brief appearance in The Howl of the Devil (1987). A sort of missing addition, Nights of the Werewolf (1968), is alleged to be an uncompleted and lost film, unseen by anyone.

A lycanthrope, cursed to live forever with a regretful instinct to kill, the character of Waldemar Daninsky afforded Naschy plenty of opportunities to emulate, to an extent, and pay tribute to his childhood hero, Larry Talbot from Universal’s The Wolf Man (1941), while at the same time mark his werewolf with his own brand of personal characteristics. Naschy’s first encounter with the Wolf Man onscreen occurred while he, underage at the time, was allowed in to a theater, by an usher he personally knew, to see Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi in Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man (1943), an experience that left the child Naschy awestruck, planting the seed for what would materialize in Naschy’s movies.

A record setting champion weightlifter from the late ‘50s to the early ‘70s, an artist, a Western novelist, and a lover of movies, Naschy became interested in working as an art director in film. Thanks to his father, Enrique Molina, Naschy got involved in filmmaking and eventually appeared in small bit parts, which include small uncredited roles in the peplum King of Kings and in the television show I Spy, where he met his longtime idol, Boris Karloff.

In 1967 Naschy wrote the script for Mark of the Wolfman (1968), introducing his cursed Wolf Man character while also throwing a pair of vampires into the story. After enduring numerous rejections from producers, Paul’s script was eventually picked up by two filming companies, one in Germany and the other in Spain, interested in making his film. The werewolf character in Mark of the Wolfman was originally a Spaniard, but the Spanish censors were not so keen on this, and so Paul, tweaking the script a bit, changed him into the Polish nobleman, Waldemar Daninsky.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vampyres: Daughters of Dracula (1974)

Unrequited love and I are no strangers, but just as the muscle eventually grows stronger from the rigorous demands of exercise, so too do I grow more resistant to the sorrows of the lovelorn heart. It is sometimes an issue of attraction only going one way or knowing full well that the honest divulgence of true feelings will most certainly bring severe complications. In either case, it is perhaps best to take the noble route, walk the way of the hero, endure the pain – which will eventually subside in due time – and wish and bestow a fortunate and happy life upon that of the desired, even if I am not to be a part of that future.

Other times it is a matter of knowing when you are playing with fire and that the only best possible solution is to retreat for good, lest you find yourself meeting your doom in more ways than one. But alas, seduction sometimes overrules rational thought, and, like the lead in José Ramón Larraz’s languorous sexy vampire British horror, Vampyres: Daughters of Dracula; even with all routes of escape firmly planted while in the face of a deadly situation, the allure and honor of coalescing with that mysterious, sexy beauty once again somehow seems worth it.

A couple of lady vampires, Fran (Marianne Morris) and Miriam (Anulka Dziubinska), haunt an old vacant mansion isolated in the woods. They seem to have a pretty efficient system for securing blood nourishment by hitchhiking rides from vulnerable English chaps and taking them back to their place. After enticing these poor gentlemen with delectable vintage wines from the cellar and seducing them, Fran and Miriam do their vampire business and leave the bodies inside their crashed vehicles on the road, making it look like an accident.

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