Friday, 31 October 2008

HALLOWEEN HORRORS: WEREWOLF SHADOW




Naschy's 4th outing as the cursed Waldemar Daninski is set in Northern France, where two young women are researching the legend of a vampire Queen named Wandesa (Paty Shepard). During the course of their work, Genevieve (Barbara Capell) and Elvira (Gaby Fuchs) encounter Daninski and, low on gas and miles from the nearest town, accept his offer of hospitality.Posing as a non-fiction writer, Daninski, armed with an ulterior motive, helps the girls to locate Wandesa's grave leading to a riff on that classic scene from Mario Bava's MASK OF SATAN (aka BLACK SUNDAY). Now the girls are faced with double jeopardy, in the form of Wandesa and Daninski's deranged sister who launches violent attacks on Genevieve.The likes of Naschy, Jess Franco, Jean Rollin and Leon Klimovsky are often regarded as 'marginal' figures in the Euro horror hall of fame, but films such as VENUS IN FURS, THE LIVING DEAD GIRLl and WEREWOLF SHADOW possess more style and imagination than a good many of their more feted competitors. Naschy in particular, has never received the acclaim he deserves, yet his Waldemar Daninski is surely one of the most tragic figures in recent genre history: a werewolf doomed to live forever unless he is killed by the woman who truly loves him. Naschy's performance vivdly conveys a tortured existence and if he proves to be the pick of the bunch here, Paty Shepard's vampiric countess also scores highly. Although some 86 minutes pass before Wandesa utters her first line of dialogue, an intensely physical performance from Shepard ensures Wandesa dominates every scene she's in. There's a real love affair with the camera going on here - echoing the extraordinary visual appeal of Soledad Miranda and Barbara Steele - turning Shepard into a seductive black angel of death.Klimovsky, clearly relishing the talents of his two main players, delivers a mostly successful slice of horror hokum. Cliched it may be, but WEREWOLF SHADOW is a delicious mixture of vampire and lycanthropic folk lore, only losing a few points during the final act when Elvira's friend Marcel (Andres Fuerno) arrives, slowing things down somewhat in his role as police inspector.Anchor Bay's Region 2 DVD (identical to its American cousin) offers a spanking print taken from original vault materials. Interior and exterior scenes are usually sharp, with bold, undistorted colours and excellent shadow detail during numerous night scenes.The disc jacket proudly declares this is the first time WEREWOLF SHADOW has been available uncut, although those scenes involving sex and violence are by no means as graphic as legend may suggest; indeed, this film could easily play intact on late night TV.Anchor Bay has included a theatrical trailer, a splendid Naschy bio (penned by Mark Wickum) and a poster gallery with some terrific artwork for Naschy films, including THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK, FURY OF THE WOLFMAN and SCHOOL KILLER. Best of all, however, is a 15 minute Naschy interview where the man himself reveals how he came to play Waldemar; why the character was Polish, rather than Spanish, and the title of the film that inspired him to spend his life in movies.Naschy also discusses censorship, offers anecdotal memories of WEREWOLF SHADOW and holds forth on his friendship with, and admiration for, Leon Klimovsky (as well as highlighting a perceived weakness in Klimovsky's directorial style).It's the sort of featurette that makes DVD such a rewarding medium, and rounds off an essential purchase for followers of Spanish horror cinema.

2 comments:

  1. So awesome. I am a huge fan of Paul Naschy. This is him at some of his best. I definitely don't feel he's given the credit and attention he deserves. He's one of my favorite stars of Euro cinema.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The man is a legend, isn't he? I really need to do some serious Naschy renting.

    ReplyDelete