Thursday, June 6, 2024

Junesploitation 2024 Day 6: Paul Naschy!




    Paul Naschy is mostly a blank slate to me. So I'm splitting the baby and watching only one of his English-dubbed films on Tubi (aka Paul Naschy central), then switching over to YouTube for two of his Spanish-only films.

    "Vengeance of the Zombies" starts out strong with married grave diggers trapped in a mausoleum with a suddenly-awakened-by-voodoo angry corpse. A peppy and fun soundtrack livens things up considerably, but not enough to ever fool you into not noticing that London and the English countryside look an awful lot like Spain. Then tedium sets in as the meandering plot follows attractive Elvire (Romy) as she hitches her aimless jet set life to the self-help teachings of Indian guru Krisna (Naschy with a racially insensitive tanning job). Elvire even follows Krisna to his retreat home after an undead woman attacks her and kills two of her caretakers. There are a handful of violent/nudity bits in "VOTZ" (the office sex one stands out :-O), but they're 'G' rated compared with the sleazy stuff fellow Spaniard Jess Franco got away with in his exploitation flicks. Even at 88 minutes this could have easily been 30 minutes shorter and still drag. Not the best first impression, but at least the print/HD transfer is quality. 2.35 CORONER'S THROATS SLASHED WITH A BEER CAN (out of 5).

    Loosely translated to "Operation Mantis: The Extermination of the Macho," this 1984 madcap Eurospy comedy is bright, cheerful and clearly inspired by early 80's Hollywood comedies (spy spoof "The Nude Bomb," "Cannonball Run," "9 to 5," "Galaxina," etc.) relying on witty banter and absurd, sketch-level segments that come and go at a rapid pace to compensate for lack of action/production values. Female-lead terrorist organization 'MATRIARKA' ('Matriarchy') is hell-bent on eliminating all men from the planet and leaving only 200 studs alive (among them Christopher Reeve, John Travolta and... Fidel Castro?). Only American spy master Sam Stevenson (Naschy, who also directs) can bring these mad ladies to their senses. None of the brooding, joyless atmosphere from Naschy's better known work is here. Since this is only available in Spanish in a compressed YouTube rip (so bad that a fight between two topless women looks like blurred censored footage! :'( ) you're going to have to trust me that the level of verbal witticisms volleying back and forth between the characters is incredible. I'm partial to the 'HAL' computer that's horny and proud of its superior intelligence over puny humans... so '84! It's an outlier to the cinema Naschy did, so it's a shame you need to be fluent in Spanish to get the jokes. Still, 3.45 PICS OF TRAVOLTA IN 'STAYING ALIVE' POSTER (out of 5) ain't too shabby for a little-seen 80's spy spoof.

    The 11th of 12 Waldemar Daninsky werewolf features (more if you count the 'monster rally' horror flicks), "Lycantropus: The Moonlight Murders" looks/feels like a USA Network production from the mid-90's. Only toward the end do we get some decent morphing/prosthetic FX shots, since the filmmakers (either for lack of resources or ineptitude) pull a "Wolf" (1994) and treat Waldemar's curse as metaphorical symbolism for growing old and estranged. There is zero tension if you've seen certain mid-80's Stephen King werewolf movie adaptation, since this screenplay (penned by Naschy after a debilitating early 90's stroke sidelined him) shamelessly copies from that novel's BULLET points (GET IT??!! :-D). Some good supporting roles (Amparo Muñoz and José María Caffarel as health professionals), but this feels like the made-for-TV "Incredible Hulk" movies made years after the OG TV series ended. Why bother? 2 1944 NAZI SOLDIERS GETTING SPIT ON BY A GYPSY CHICK (out of 5).

    1. I doubt that you will be the last one to struggle with Naschy's movies, J.M. I have been a fan for a while and have learned to overlook the flaws in them. The quality of the English dubbing can be a major impediment in enjoying them. Having a collection of Naschy titles, I always can choose the Spanish audio. Not many are what could be called "great", but I usually find something worthwhile. Vengeance of the Zombies might be exception to that. I did not like it when I saw it many years ago.

  2. The Mondo Macabro label has put out many of Paul Naschy's films. My choice today is a release from that company, one that I have not watched before.


    In rural Spain, at the beginning of the 20th century, the owner of an inn/vice den is killing people and burying them in his garden. That man, Juan Andres, is played by Paul Naschy. Naschy also wrote and directed the film. This is him at his most serious, venturing away from genre cinema to make a historical drama. Rather than providing an entertaining spectacle, Naschy created a brooding tale of a sociopath. The details of his life and surroundings are at the forefront. The film succeeds in evoking a different era in history while showing Juan Andres’ cold-blooded deeds. In the late 1970s, Naschy briefly had an opportunity to make movies like this that had a strong personal meaning to him. The Devil Incarnate is one that would heartily recommend from this period. I do not believe they had much box office success.

  3. (note: this is one of my favorite things about Junesploitation...categories/individuals/themes that are totally off my radar...always wonderful to find new cinema fun!)

    Assignment Terror (1970)

    Another in the well worn trope of: Aliens that look like us try to take over the planet by reviving the Wolfman, Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy. Our only salvation is a low rent James Bond. It looks good and is cheezy A.F. of a concept but moves kinda slow. (also cant help think this somehow influenced Monster Squad...thou it lacks all references to 'wolfmans got nards')

  4. The Werewolf Versus The Vampire Woman (1971)

    It's my first ever encounter with Paul Naschy, so I'm going with what seems to be generally considered one of his best/most representative titles.

    1. Watched this as well but the blog ate my comment. Had a fun enough time. Felt like something that might be fun to incorporate into a hammer/classic Halloween marathon.

  5. Exorcismo (1975, dir. Juan Bosch)

    After attending a drug-fueled Satanic ritual, a woman starts behaving increasingly erratically and soon people close to her start turning up murdered. The local priest as well as the police investigate the incidents, and the priest becomes convinced she's possessed and an exorcism is needed.

    It's a rip-off of The Exorcist, but shorter, sleazier and with some added nudity. And still somehow it manages to be pretty boring for most of its runtime. Occasionally there's some effectively moody cinematography, Naschy is good as the priest, and the make-up effect works.

  6. The Werewolf and the Yeti (1975). Like many others, Paul Naschy was unknown to me, so I was super thrilled to delve into his work! This was apparently the 8th of a series of werewolf movies. He heads off to Tibet to search for the Yeti, gets turned into a werewolf, and a lot of stuff happens after that. I liked the mountainous outdoor setting. The Yeti does appear in the last 5 minute. Really campy with always enough characters and stuff going on to keep it entertaining.

    1. Is this the story about how a Werewolf moves into the suburbs and wont stop talking about his $400 cooler that will keep beer cold for days? (ill show myself out)

    written by & starring Paul Naschy
    dir. Enrique Lopez Eguiluz

    A movie that has nothing at all to do with Frankenstein… okay, the lead’s last name ends with stein, but that’s it.

    It’s better known as THE MARK OF THE WOLFMAN, as it’s about werewolves and vampires, but not Frankenstein.

    And it may be some Lon Cheney Jr-esque lycanthropy (except with a gorilla mask) … but I’d happily watch a whole series of movies about the gypsy girl who truly caused all the horror and mayhem by lusting after the silver cross that had kept Wolfstein in check all those years.

    This is marketed as Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man, and the Mummy all in one movie. But there’s also aliens, who revive the monsters as the first step to conquering Earth. (Is this Plan 10?) It’s a real throw-everything-against-the-wall movie, with little rhyme or reason.

    Did Naschy own just one werewolf makeup kit, and he re-used it in every movie? Was that his hustle? There are few cool visuals in this, evoking the fog-shrouded cemeteries of classic horror flicks, but mostly it’s the grainy brown aesthetic that all these movies seem to have. A little hard on the eyes after a double feature.

    Bonus Universal Monster-sploitation: BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)
    This is as close to perfect as a movie can get, right? I guess we can debate all day about whether the monster should speak, but it’s part of our shared film history now. I’m fine with it, because this movie hits every note for me.

    1. I guess there are no bright colors or sunny days in Spain. The grainy brown aesthetic is very common with Spanish horror. That is particularly prevalent in the way landscapes are photographed.

    2. Yeah, I suppose it's a byproduct of the era (era) from which it was produced, more than anything else.

  9. Human Beasts(1980 Dir Paul Naschy)

    Start with a yakuza crime film, then add a dash of scorned lover seeking revenge. Throw in a pinch of every farmer's daughter joke ever, some 70s softcore sex, add some slasher scenes, a ghost, some feral pigs, a bit of cannibalism and set it all in the nondescript European countryside haunted house of Dr. Moreau. Thats this movie.
    Naschy looking like someone deepfaked Michael Douglas's face on George C Scotts head and body stars and directs. I'm pretty sure he wrote the film and also inspired a young Vin Diesel and Steven Segal.
    Would I recommend it? Yes. It was made for this month.

  10. The Night of the Werewolf (1981, dir. Paul Naschy)

    My first Naschy. I liked it! This movie has it all, werewolves, vampires, zombies, a literal bloodbath, and atmosphere for days. This definitely shot up my list of movies to turn on in the background at a Halloween party (a high compliment). I've enjoyed reading everyone's comments today and look forward to learning more about Naschy.

    First-time rewatch since that rough-looking MYA DVD.
    Shout! Factory Blu. Still 9/10.
    “The cellular proliferation is retarded again.”
    “…a pile of meat in the hands of bungling students.”
    I'd already picked this out of my rewatch possibilities before Reserved Seating announced, so that makes it more communal, somehow.
    I've been a Naschy fan for about 20 years now. I can't say this is the best one but for some reason I just love it. It's a perfect example of Euro-gunk, with absurd science, crackpot love & a truly deranged sense of reality that exists only to serve that pulsing tissue. I wouldn't recommend this film to a complete Naschy neophyte (maybe HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB or THE WEREWOLF VS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN). I learned about Euro-horror through the classic favorites by Bava, Argento, Fulci, et al, while consuming Something Weird discs like THE MAD BUTCHER or FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS, so it's all a delicious gravy for me.

  12. Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973)

    Worth a try, but not really my bag.

    Highlights: solid gore, plenty of naked ladies.

    Lowlights: rambling nonsense plot, generic organ score.

  13. Devil's Possessed (1974), and There Werewolf and the Yeti (1975)

    I don't have too much to say about either of these. I like Naschy's movies but I think once you've watched a couple you have a fairly good idea of what you'll be getting with just about any one of them.

  14. Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973) dir. by Carlos Aured

    see: Reed Strickland's post, above :-)

  15. La Maldicion de la Bestia aka Night of the Howling Beast aka The Werewolf and the Yeti (1975)

    Naschy IS Waldermar (not the dude from Harry Potter), a sideburns-sporting, barrel-chested anthropologist/psychologist who is fluent in Nepalese (which he doesn't employ in the dubbed version I watched). He adds wolfman to his resume, and his signature move is a flying leap from the top turnbuckle. Oh yeah, he fights a Yeti, which is actually kind of anticlimactic after his epic battle with The Iron Sheik. A little gory, a lot goofy.

  16. Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)

    Released in Spain as La rebelión de las muerta (Rebellion of the Dead Women), this León Klimovsky-directed and Paul Naschy-written movie was also released in Italy as La Vendetta dei Morti Viventi (Revenge of the Living Dead), in Germany as three titles — Rebellion of the Living Dead, Invocation of the Devil (blame The Exorcist) and Blood Lust of the Zombies in 1980 to cash in on Dawn of the Dead — and after playing double features in the U.S. with The Dracula Saga, it returned — like a zombie — from Independent Artists as Walk of the Dead, complete with a “Shock Notice” before every murder.

    I can’t even imagine what people who saw this expecting Romero thought. It’s closer to the 40s zombie movies mixed with some giallo, as a serial killer is murdering gorgeous women, all of whom are brought back to life by a mystic named Kantaka (Naschy), who is building an army of, well, sexy female zombies. He also has a brother, Krishna (Naschy in a second part) making people feel good about themselves and enlightened. Naschy even gets a third role as Satan!

    At the heart of the movie is Elvire (Rommy, The Killer With a Thousand Eyes), the kind of ravishing redhead that seemingly only lives in Eurohorror movies. She’s just lost her father and butler. Kantaka wants to add her to his growing group of sensual and sultry walking dead.

    A lot of people say bad things about this movie but they are closed minded folks who can’t grip the fact that a surrealist Spanish horror film with a fuzzed out jazz score, Paul Naschy, Mirta Miller (Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf), María Kosti (The Night of the Sorcerers), lots of slow motion, plenty of stock footage and the kind of feeling that even Naschy said felt drug-induced can be what movie watching should be about. I could care less being into what’s the hottest and parroting the words of film Twitter. Nope, I’m happy watching an absolutely battered copy of this, so excited that Rommy is in a cover version of an Italian gothic by way of an American zombie movie, diaphanous white gown and all. This movie is made on location in its own world and we’re all the better to spend just a few minutes within it.

  17. The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman (1971) It’s clear that Paul Naschy had seen many classic monster films and said, “I can do that.” NOTE: He couldn’t. Elvira, the main character, falls in love with the titular werewolf after less than 48 hours— such was the sheer charisma and personal magnetism of THE MAN WHO WROTE THE FILM AND PLAYS THE PART OF THE WEREWOLF! Plus, we need to deduct points because all of the day-for-night scenes, and they are plentiful, ARE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPREHEND ON TUBI BECAUSE THEIR $&@?!%€£! PRINT IS SO DARK! (Most frequent comment in my living room during the screening: “Wait, is that Waldemar’s sister or Genevieve? Goddamnit!”) Tedious nonsense.

  18. The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman (1971) The print we saw was TERRIBLE which didn't help. I liked that there are a lot of ladies in this movie! Some of them were vampires. One was a fool for love. There was also a werewolf who starts the movie as a corpse. Was this totally my bag? No. However, I love how Junesploitation gets us to try new things.