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Paul Naschy a.k.a. Jacinto Molina, the King of Spanish Horror - A Biography

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2007, updated March 2010

Films starring Paul Naschy on (re)Search my Trash

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To horror fans, Paul Naschy is known first and foremost as El Hombre Lobo, the werewolf, a Spanish version of Lon Chaney jr's Wolf Man - which is why Naschy was frequently dubbed as the Spanish Lon Chaney jr [Lon Chaney jr bio - click here] - however, to reduce Naschy to the werewolf role, popular as it was, would mean to neglect his many contributions to genre cinema, his diversity considering roles (even if his acting wasn't always up to it), and his importance to Euro horror as such.

 

But let's start at the beginning:

Paul Naschy was born Jacinto Alvarez Molina in 1934 in Madrid, Spain and grew up under General Franco in post-Civil War Spain. Attending a screening of Frankenstein meets the Wolf Man (1943, Roy William Neill) at age 11 is often quoted as young Jacinto's key experience, and judging from his El Hombre Lobo-films - where the werewolf would often meet other horror characters (including Frankenstein's monster) - this actually makes sense - on the other hand the story sounds just too perfect and too made up for press release to not be taken with a grain of salt ... 

Be that as it may, growing up, Jacinto Molina studied first agriculture, then switched to architecture and eventually began developing an artistic interest - which soon had him drawing record covers professionally as well as comic books, and even having some of his paintings shown at exhibitions. Besides that, he wrote a series of novels - mostly Westerns, no horror - under his pen name Jack Mills. Besides all that he was a sportsman, having quite a record-setting career in weight-lifting. Some sources also claim he had a background in professional wrestling.

 

However, eventually he got bitten by the movie bug, most possibly while working as an extra on Nicholas Ray's King of Kings (1961), a film about Jesus shot in Spain starring Jeffrey Hunter as the son of God and Siobhan McKenna as his mother Mary, with Orson Welles narrating. (By the way, two other young Spanish actors with a future in genre cinema, Antonio Mayans and Aldo Sambrell, also had small early roles in this one).

Over the next few years, Naschy would appear in a number of films in small roles or as an extra, including an episode of the American TV-series I Spy (episode Mainly in the Plain [1966, David Friedkin]) which also starred Boris Karloff.

 

In 1967, Naschy, still under his (somewhat abbreviated) birth name Jacinto Molina, played his first bigger role, an inspector hunting a sex maniac in the crime drama Agonizando en el Crimen (Enrique López Eguiluz), and he had his only role in a Western to date, La Furia de Johnny Kidd/Dove Si Spara di Piu (Gianni Puccini). In  this film, his appearance is only about a minute long, but Naschy claims he also helped directing the film. By and large it seems by 1967, Naschy had pretty much given up his acting career for a career behind the camera, as the same year, he was assistant director on two films he didn't even appear in, Aventura en el Palacio Viejo (Manuel Torres Larrode) and Cronica de 9 Meses (Mariano Ozores).

 

In 1968 however, when Naschy merely tried to pitch a horror script to German production company Hi-Fi Stereo 70, his career would totally change. Originally (or should I say allegedly), the producers tried to get Lon Chaney jr [Lon Chaney jr bio - click here] for the lead role in Naschy's script, that of a man who turns into a werewolf by night, but by now Chaney jr, 27 years after his original The Wolf Man (1941, George Waggner), was 62 years old, of ill health, obese and a heavy drinker - in other words he was in no condition to play a role as demanding as this (even if it was in a cheap horror flick). The producers then unsuccessfully tried several other actors until they suggested Naschy to star in the film based on his own script himself ... only thing was, his name sounded too regional and he had to choose a more internationally sounding name. So Jacinto Molina took the surname of a Hungarian weightlifter he admired, Imre Nagy, changed it around a bit, added to it the first name of the then current pope, Paul VI, et voilá, Paul Naschy, Jacinto Molina's on-screen alter ego, was born.

 


Flix.com

The film in question is La Marca del Hombre Lobo/Frankenstein's Bloody Terror/The Mark of the Wolfman (1968, Enrique López Eguiluz), and it marked not only Paul Naschy's breakthrough performance as an actor but also marked the beginning of the El Hombre Lobo-series, one of the longest running series in horror history (the last film so far was made in 2004, still with Naschy in the lead).

La Marca del Hombre Lobo told the story of Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy of course), a kind-hearted nobleman who hunts down and kills a werewolf - but not before being turned into a werewolf himself. Waldemar desperately tries to get rid of his curse but soon realizes this is a goal he cannot achieve on his own, and thus he visits a doctor and his wife for treatment - only to have to realize they are vampires and ultimately he has to battle it out with them, in the end dieing a hero's death.

(An interesting aside on El Hombre Lobo's human name, Waldemar Daninsky: Actually the character was supposed to have a Spanish name, but under the rule General Franco, censorship was still strong and the censors opposed to a Spanish werewolf, so Naschy simply changed the name of the character to Polish sounding Waldemar Daninsky, and everybody was happy - at least that's how the story goes.)

By all means, La Marca del Hombre Lobo is not an especially good film, it's a cheaply made Euro-shocker based on a script that doesn't always make sense and that is anything but subtle. And Naschy, in his first leading role, proves rather wooden as an actor (he would improve over the years though) - but for trashfilm lovers like me these are all reasons to love and to treasure the film rather than condemn it, but that's beside the point now.

All its inconsistencies aside, La Marca del Hombre Lobo also struck a chord with the audience, it had a certain romantic dimension to it not usually found in films like this. And since the film was a relative success with the audience and films like this could be cheaply made, a sequel was inevitable. (Do note though that the Hombre Lobo-series has no continuity as such, each film is supposed to stand on its own.)

 

Actually, the first sequel to La Marca del Hombre Lobo, Las Noches del Hombre Lobo/Nights of the Werewolf was shot in later 1968 by French TV-director René Govar in Paris and was co-scripted by Paul Naschy. Essentially the film would have been about a student (Naschy), who suffers from lycanthropy and asks his professor for a cure, but the professor instead uses him as a tool for his vengeance and has the werewolf kill those who have wronged him - definitely shades of The Mad Monster (1942, Sam Newfield) here ... It is however questionable if the film ever came out anywhere, since a series of lawsuits and finally the direcotr's death in a car accident shortly after filming was finished caused the film to be impounded - and unfortunately nowadays, noone knows if a print of it still exists anywhere in the world. Some sources even claim the film was never made in the first place.

 



There is no doubt however about the existence of the next Hombre Lobo-film, the Spanish-German-Italian co-production Los Monstruos del Terror/Dracula jagt Frankenstein/Assignement Terror (1970, Tulio Demicheli), a film in which three aliens (Michael Rennie, Karin Dor [Karin Dor biography - click here] and Ángel del Pozo) are resurrecting the earth's greatest monsters - Dracula (Manuel De Blas), Frankenstein's monster (Ferdinando Murolo), the Mummy (Gene Reyes) and El Hombre Lobo (Paul Naschy of course) - to take over the earth with their help. The film, again scripted by Paul Naschy, who is again using his real name Jacinto Molina as scriptwriter (as he would in many a film to come), is pretty much as silly as this short synopsis might suggest, a wild mix of Universal's all-star monster-movies from the 1940's like House of Frankenstein (1944, Erle C.Kenton), or House of Dracula (1945, Erle C.Kenton), 1950's science fiction cinema of the alien invasion kind and the then popular 1960's espionage fare. If you are at all into Euro trash, you will be thrilled by this film, it's even sillier than you would expect, and the bad Dracula- and Frankenstein-make-up jobs are something that must be seen to be believed.

 


Flix.com


Flix.com


For the next few years, Naschy kept the Hombre Lobo-franchise going with films like La Noche de Walpurgis/The Werewolf's Shadow/Werewolf vs Vampire Women (1971), his first collaboration with veteran genre director León Klimovsky (who had been directing films since the late 1940's), which pits the werewolf against vampire women, La Furia del Hombre Lobo/The Fury of the Wolfman/The Wolfman Never Sleeps (1972, José María Zabalza), the genre fave Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo/Dr. Jekyll vs the Werewolf (1972, León Klimovsky), which mixes elements of the Hombre Lobo-saga with the Jekyll and Hyde-story and also stars Jack Taylor as sinister Doctor Jekyll, El Retorno del Walpurgis/Curse of the Devil/Return of Walpurgis/The Black Harvest of Countess Dracula (1973, Carlos Aured), in which the werewolf has to fight witches, and the rather wacky La Maldición de la Bestia/The Werewolf and the Yeti/Night of the Howling Beast (1977, Miguel Iglesias), which not only features the werewolf and the Yeti but also a bunch of cannibal women.

 



All of these films are enjoyable Euro horror that are by no means to be taken seriously, they are cheaply made silly and often trashy shockers with quite some (not always convincing) gore effects that simply should be enjoyed as such ...

(It should perhaps at this point be noted that many of these films were shot in two versions, one for the repressive Spanish market, and a racier one with nudity and sex for the international, which was back then quite common in the Spanish [horror-]film industry.)

 

With the early 1970's though, Naschy also tried to break away from the Hombre Lobo-character - even if apart from the gangster flick El Vértigo del Crimen (1970, Pascual Cervera) and a few other minor movies, he remained firmly within the confines of the horror genre. Interestingly, despite the vast number of films he starred in during tht period, Naschy also scripted or co-scripted almost all of them under his real name Jacinto Molina.


    Flix.com


  • In Jack el Destripador de Londres/Sette Cadaveri per Scotland Yard/Jack the Ripper of London (1971, José Luis Madrid), a contemporary version of Jack the Ripper, he plays a former circus performer who is suspected of being the famed serial killer and therefore on the run.
  • El Gran Amor del Conde Drácula/Count Dracula's Great Love (1972, Javier Aguirre) stars Naschy as Dracula himself. This might not be the most convincing choice given Naschy's rather bulky stature (don't forget, he once was a weightlifter and looks it) that looks nothing like what you've come to expect from the Eastern European aristocratic vampire - but at least he plays the role with dignity. Plus the film gives the Dracula-legend a romantic twist, with Naschy playing the vampire not as evil incarnate but a tragic character a bit in the vein of El Hombre Lobo.

  • Flix.com


  • For El Espanto Surge de la Tumba/Horror Rises from the Grave (1973, Carlos Aured), Naschy created the character Alaric de Marnac, a vengeful sorcerer from the 15th century who is resurrected in the 20th century and immediately starts having revenge on those who have wronged him, a role that he would repeat in his self-directed Latidos de Pánico/Panic Beats (1982).
    Interestingly, the Alaric de Marnac-character was based on the historic figure of Gilles de Rais, whom Naschy played in León Klimovsky's El Marsical del Infierno/Devil's Possessed from 1974, a period piece set in the 13th century with Naschy playing de Rais, a field marshal with an interest in black magic going mad and turning to gruesome killings over his search for the philosopher's stone. For some reason though, Gilles de Rais is renamed Gilles de Lancre in the film.

  • Flix.com


    Flix.com

  • Los Ojos Azules de la Muneca Rota/House of Psychotic Women/Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1973, Carlos Aured) is a murder mystery shot very much in style of the then popular Italian gialli.
  • With La Venganza de la Momia/The Vengeance of the Mummy (1973, Carlos Aured), Naschy added the living mummy to his roster of horror characters, as he plays the bandaged one as well as his descendant who ultimately brings him back to life to go on a killing spree through Victorian London - which is actually quite gory. Jack Taylor and Helga Liné co-star in this one.
  • Javier Aguirre's El Jorobado de la Morgue/The Hunchback of the Morgue (1973) has Naschy playing a hunchback who supplies a mad scientist (Alberto Dalbés) with corpses  because the scientist has promised to revive his dead lover. The whole thing is a fun mixture of gore flick, gothic horror and science fiction with Naschy in one of his more interesting roles. The film also stars Euro beauties Maria Perschy and Rosanna Yanni.
  • León Klimovsky's La Rebelión de las Muertas/Vengeance of the Zombies (1973) features Naschy in a double role, as a soft spoken and mild mannered guru from India, and his disfigured evil brother who has had an education in voodoo and therefore knows how to raise the dead - for one reason and one reason only, to avenge himself.
  • In La Orgía de los Muertes/Orgy of the Dead/Return of the Zombies (1973, José Luis Merino), a film about zombies in the Scottish highlands and one of the few films of that era not (co-)scripted by Naschy, he only plays a supporting character, that of a deranged gravedigger.
  • Los Crímenes de Petiot/The Crimes of Petiot (1973, José Luis Madrid) is a horror/murder mystery set in France about a series of killings during World War II that seems to have strange repercussions nowadays. Naschy plays a masked assassin in this one.
  • Disco Rojo/Red Light (1973, Rafael Romero Marchent) is another gangster flick with Naschy as a villain. Interestingly it is one of the few non-horror films of that era Naschy co-wrote.

  • In Las Ratas no Duermen de Noche/Crimson, the Color of Blood (1973, Juan Fortuny), Naschy, a dangerous criminal, finds himself at the wrong end of a lobotomy performed by your typical mad scientist - which makes Naschy even more dangerous.
  • Tarzán en las Minas del Ray Salomón/Tarzan in King Solomon's Mines (1973, José Luis Merino) is an unauthorized Tarzan film - which is why it wasn't widely distributed - with a certain David Carpenter as the lord of the jungle, Nadiuska as his love interest and Paul Naschy playing a baddie.
  • The Spanish-Italian co-production Una Libélula para cada muerto/Red Killer (1974, León Klimovsky) is another murder mystery done in the then fashionable giallo-style. This time around, Naschy plays an inspector trailing a serial killer prowling on immoral. Erika Blanc,a veteran of Euro genre cinema, plays Naschy's wife.
  • Muerte de un Quinqui/Death of a Hoodlum (1975), yet another film directed by León Klimovsky, sees Naschy as an escaped convict with a troubled past holding a depraved family hostage.

  • Flix.com


    Flix.com

  • Exorcismo/Exorcism (1975, Juan Bosch) is one of these typical Euro-remakes of American blockbusters (in this case The Exorcist [1973, William Friedkin]) of its time: It's neither as lavishly produced nor as highly budgeted as its American counterpart and is a good deal sillier, but it's also not nearly as pretentious and way more fun - if fun at times in an unintentional way. Naschy by the way plays the role of the exorcist.
  • La Diosa Salvaje/Kilma, the Jungle Goddess (1975, Miguel Iglesias Bonns) is another jungle flick Paul Naschy was in, one of the white jungle girl-variety, with Eva Miller aka Blanka Estrada as Kilma the jungle goddess and loads of attractive girls in fur bikinis. Later the same year, the film even got a sequel, Kilma, Reina de las Amazonas/Kilma, Queen of the Amazons (1975, Miguel Iglesias Bonns), again starring Eva Miller but without Paul Naschy.
  • In the French film Docteur Justice/Doctor Justice/Karate Killers (1975, Christian-Jaque), an adaptation of the superhero comicstrip of the same name by Raphael Marcello and Jean Ollivier, Naschy only has a small supporting role as one of the villain's henchmen while the main action is left to John Phillip Law in the title role and Gert Fröbe as - who else - the lead villain. The whole thing pretty much amounts to a cheesy but somehow charming Eurospy trash-adventure.

In 1976, Paul Naschy for the first time was no longer content with just acting and writing his own screenplays (as mentioned above, he also scripted most of his films), and he took over the director's chair as well for the film Inquisición/Inquisition, under his birth name Jacinto Molina (the name under which he also wrote the screenplay).

Inquisición is pretty much your typical witchhunt film in the tradition of films like Witchfinder General (1968, Michael Reeves) and The Devils (1971, Ken Russell), but it certainly lives up to neither one of these masterpieces. Rather, you will find the film resembling flicks from the more sensationalist (and trashier) end of the subgenre like Der Hexentöter von Blackmoor/The Bloody Judge (1970, Jess Franco) and Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält/Mark of the Devil (1970, Michael Armstrong), and as in these movies, the film's narrative mainly serves as an excuse to show a wide variety of (naked) women in various torture set-ups. Interestingly though, Inquisición refrains from passing judgement on the inquisition itself and until the end leaves it open if the head inquisitor (Paul Naschy) was just torturing all these women for his own pleasure or if they were really possessed by the devil (wouldn't you know it, Paul Naschy again).

By no means was Inquisición a great film, a trailblazing film or even a good film, and judging from it one would be hard-pressed to call Paul Naschy a great director, but for lovers of pure, unadulterated Euro-trash the film is also extremely loveable for its cheapness, its unpretentiousness and its straight-forewardness.

 

By and large though, Naschy's fame was on the decline during the late 1970's, when cinema in general and horror cinema in particular began to change thanks to the introduction of the blockbuster. Cheap locally produced horror flicks were no longer as much in demand and if, bulky Paul Naschy was not the perfect actor to star in them - so during the latter part of the 1970's, Naschy's appearances in genre films were rather rare while he tried his hand on quite a number of other genres outside of horror.

 

Among his more interesting late 1970's films, there was the post-doomsday-science fictioner Último Deseo/The People who Own the Dark as well as the kidnapping drama Secuestro (both 1976, León Klimovsky), which was based on the kidnapping of Pattricia Hearst and in which Maria Jose Cantudo plays the traumatized and kidnapped victim who is hit by the Stockholm Syndrome and falls in love with one of her kidnappers. Then there was the political thriller Muerte de un Presidente/Comando Txikia (1976, José Luis Madrid), which was based on the real life assassination of Carrero Blanco, the then-president of the Spanish gouvernment in 1973.

 

José Jara's El Transexual (1977) was a film about about (what else) transsexuals starring Ágata Lys and treating the subject in a very matter-of-fact and non-pejorative way. Surprisingly, Paul Naschy not only had a role in it, he also co-wrote the screenplay (which is surprising not so much because he co-wrote the screenplay as such but because he touches very sensible terrain that goes way beyond his usual horror scripts).

 

In his second movie as a director, El Huerto del Francés (1978), Naschy (again as Jacinto Molina) gives himself the role of a serial killer, the Frenchman, who is a perfectly charming man by day who's married to a upper-class wife, played by Julia Saly - but by night he turns into a brutal killer, murdering out of lust, out of the need for a quick buck, out of frustration over his lower-class roots, or whatever else he can think of.

El Huerto del Francés was a definite improvement over Naschy's directorial debut Inquisición, but for some reason, it never reached the same level of fame and notoriety and is nowadays (2007) still waiting for a decent DVD-release.

 

In 1979, Paul Naschy directed his next film, an erotic satire about upper-class Madrid, Madrid al Desnudo, which caused a bit of a stir upon its release, but is definitely inferior  to El Huerto del Francés and probably deserves to be forgotten nowadays.

 

In another self-directed movie, El Caminante (1979), Naschy plays the devil (again), who has come to earth in the flesh to see how humankind has progressed, and play his usual tricks on the humans, in what turns out to be a mixture of sex romp and morality play - maybe not great but certainly worth a look ...

 


Flix.com

In the early 1980's, Naschy became even more involved in directing, with very varying success: First he tried revive the sword and sandal-genre with Los Cantabros (1980, Paul Naschy as Jacinto Molina), a film originally intended for Amando de Ossorio, but failed (1980 was not the year for sword and sandal-movies to begin with), then he directed another entry into the Hombre Lobo-series, El Retorno del Hombre Lobo/Night of the Werewolf/Return of the Wolfman (1980), which was by and large a remake of Werewolf vs Vampire Women from 1971, and considering the year of production, the film seemed horribly dated and is one of the lesser (and less entertaining) entries into the series. Then though to everybody's surprise, Naschy made a string of documentaries for Japanese television, and suddenly everything changed ...

 

In his documentaries about topics like the Prada Museum, the Royal Palace of Madrid and the Altamira Caves, Naschy, who for years was known only as a horror actor/writer/director, suddenly showed a more serious, more sincere, and (let's face it) more intelligent side of himself, and these films brought him not only great acclaim but also contacts to the Japanese film industry which eventually led to a handful of Spanish-Japanese co-productions with Naschy in the director's chair:


    Flix.com

  • The first of these films is El Carnaval de las Bestias/Human Beasts/The Pig (1980) in which Naschy plays a ruthless killer, who during the course of the film has a change of character and tries to redeem himself - which sounds very cheesy, but the film contains quite a few odd twists and turns ...
  • For La Bestia y la Espada Mágica/The Beast and the Magic Sword (1983), Naschy yet again revives his Hombre Lobo-character but this time takes him to Japan, mixing werewolf- and samurai-lore. The result is interesting but not terribly convincing.
  • In the crime thriller El Último Kamikaze (1984), Naschy plays one of two hitmen who come face to face in the end to shoot it out.
  • Naschy himself called his super-spy spoof Operación Mantis (1984) his greatest failure - on both a financial and an artistic level: It totally crippled Naschy's own production company Aconito Productions which he had only set up a few years ago, and as a comedy it simply sucked - which is probably why the film failed to get proper distribution ...

But even besides his documentaries and Spanish-Japanese co-productions, Naschy was all but idle during the early to mit 1980's: He played a small part in Juan Piquer Simón's terrible Misterio en la Isla de los Monstruos/Mystery on Monster Island (1981), which also starred - for whatever reason - Terence Stamp and Peter Cushing, in Buenas Noches, Senor Monstruo (1982, Antonio Mercero), a showcase for the kiddie-band Regaliz, he can yet again be seen as a wolfman, but he refused to honour the film with his character name Waldemar Daninsky (his usual human name as Hombre Lobo) because the film was just too childish and silly.


Flix.com

With the above-mentioned, self-directed Latidos de Pánico/Panic Beats (1982), Naschy tried to revive another character from an old film of his (El Espanto Surge de la Tumba/Horror Rises from the Grave [1973, Carlos Aured]), Alaric de Marnac, and while the movie was properly trashy and violent, the character didn't catch on nearly as well as El Hombre Lobo.

Mi Amigo el Vagabundo (1984, Jacinto Molina = Paul Naschy) is a bittersweet showcase for Naschy's own son, Sergio Molina (who acted in a handful of his father's films), in which Naschy himself only plays a supporting role - but has written for himself some dream sequences in which he can appear as Musketeer, Western gunslinger and the like.

 

In the mid-1980's, after his production company had crashed, Naschy slowed down his pace considerably, almost as if he - being in his early 50's - wanted to retire. His films were few and far between and he was even talked into making a direct-to-video shocker in the Netherlands, Shadows of Blood (1988, Sydney Ling), which was made on a shoestring with very limited production values ... and then out of nowhere, Naschy emerged with what was probably his best film to that point, both as a director and actor: El Aullido del Diablo/Howl of the Devil (1987, Paul Naschy).

 

In Howl of the Devil, Naschy plays both a respectable actor, Hector, who became embittered over the years, and his late brother Alex, a horror actor who had the fame and success Hector thinks he himself deserved. Hector lives out his frustrations with hookers (who are delivered by none other than cult horror actor Howard Vernon) who are then brutally dismembered by a killer wearing traditional black gloves - which might be Hector, his dead brother Alex ... or even Satan himself.

What makes this film special though is not so much the script as such as Naschy paying hommage to his own career as well as classic horror movies as a whole, as Naschy finds himself playing Rasputin, Quasimodo, Bluebeard, the Frankenstein monster, Fu Manchu, the Phantom of the Opera, Mr. Hyde and of course El Hombre Lobo in short sequences during the course of the movie. Plus the film ably demonstrates how much Naschy has grown as an actor in the last 20 years.

Unfortunately, what should have been Naschy's triumphant return to the big screen with special attention to English-language audiences (who were supposed to be attracted by his international co-stars Howard Vernon and Caroline Munro  [Caroline Munro bio - click here]) turned out to be pretty much dead on arrival, and for a variety of reasons that had nothing to do with the quality of the film: All sorts of post-production problems including the death of a producer prevented the film from ever coming out theatrically and eventually it premiered on Spanish television - which is a fate the film just didn't deserve ...

 

By and large, the late 1980's and the 1990's were not a too exciting period for Naschy, and even though he still acted on a steady schedule (even if in way less films than in his heyday in the early 1970's), wrote some of his films and even directed one more film, his films became less and less memorable:

  • La Hija de Fu Manchu '72 (1990 Santiago Aguilar, Luis Guridi) is a comedy short that stars Naschy as the oriental villain Fu Manchu himself - a role which he as mentioned also tried in Howl of the Devil.
  • La Noche del Ejecutor/The Night of the Executioner (1992, Paul Naschy as Jacinto Molina) is Naschy's last effort as a director so far, but is also one of his lesser films.
  • Naschy also had a small role in the film State of Mind (1992, Reginald Adamson) that starred Fred Williamson and was a French-Belgian-Dutch-American co-production ... and a rather weak crime thriller.
  • Licántropo: El Asesino de la Luna Llena/Lycantropus: The Moonlight Murders (1996, Francisco Rodriguez Gordillo) is yet another entry into the Hombre Lobo-series and is naturally again scripted by Naschy. And even though for the first time CGI-effects are used for Naschy's transformation into a wolf and the film contains some clever subplots, it's one of the lesser films of the series, almost totally lacking both nudity and gore, things the dedicated fan has come to expect from the series.
  • In 1998, Naschy played the character Rafa in 8 episodes of the popular Spanish TV-series Querido Maestro.

The 2000's saw a new interest in Paul Naschy, thanks to many of his old films being released on DVD and a growing fanbase for Euro-horror by and large - and suddenly Naschy found himself in demand again, at least concerning genre productions:




  • School Killer (2001, Fernando Arribas) is a quite atmospheric and suspenseful modern slasher film - it's just too bad that Naschy is reduced to playing a killer lurking in the hallways looking menacingly.
  • Mucha Sangre (2002, Pepe de las Heras) is an over-the-top science fiction/splatter comedy, among other things about alien zombies sodomizing men, that tries to parody pretty much all cult horror films of recent (and not so recent) years.
  • El Corazón Delator/The Tell-Tale Heart (2003, Alfonso S.Suarez) is a short based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe that shows just how much Paul Naschy has matured and grown as an actor since the 1960's.



In 2004, Naschy even travelled to the USA for two direct-to-video productions - which might sound bigger than it actually is: The first of these two films was Countess Dracula's Orgy of Blood (2004, Donald F.Glut), a sort-of semi-sequel to The Erotic Rites of Countess Dracula (2001, Donald F.Glut), that is actually less a horror and more of a lesbian softcore-sex film with a horror framing and Naschy lending it some credibility with the horror crowd. That said, director Donald F.Glut is one of the better softcore sex directors and the film is totally watchable if obviously cheap.

The second film Naschy did in the USA was Fred Olen Ray's Tomb of the Werewolf (2004), the (so far) latest entry into the Hombre Lobo-series - and the first film of the series Naschy did not write himself (director Fred Olen Ray was responsible for the script).The film mixes the typical werewolf story with the Elizabeth Bathory-legend (who is in this film played by American genre veteran Michelle Bauer) and plenty of lesbian sex. And while it's certain that the Hombre Lobo-series deserves to have a better ending than an American direct-to-video shocker, it should also be pointed out that Tomb of the Werewolf is one of Fred Olen Ray's more carefully directed and more decently budgeted films.

 


Flix.com


Flix.com

While his American films are not totally convincing on a quality level though, back in Spain Naschy made his probably best film to date: Rojo Sangre (2004, Christian Molina - no relation to Naschy aka Jacinto Molina).

It's not so much that Rojo Sangre - scripted once again by Naschy himself, whose screenplays have become much rarer in recent years - convinces on a story level. Basically the film is about an embittered veteran horror actor who has a run-in with the devil and becomes a serial killer - shades of Naschy's earlier masterpiece Howl of the Devil here. What makes the film so special though is Naschy himself, who gives an amazing performance full of subtleties in what could have been a clichéd role. It might come rather late in his life (Naschy was 70 in 2004), but without a doubt, Rojo Sangre is Naschy's signature-performance, and it would have been a great coda to his career.

 

Since Rojo Sangre though, Naschy hasn't remained idle - even if his latest films hardly measure up to his late masterpiece.

 


Rottweiler (2005, Brian Yuzna), produced by Brian Yuzna's Spanish production company Fantastic Factory, is a science fiction flick about an escaped convict-with-a-heart-of-gold (William Miller), who is pursued by a cyborg Rottweiler, and who eventually ends up in a city of criminals ruled by evil Kufard - played with joy by Paul Naschy. Of course, Rottweiler is a silly B-picture all the way, but at least it's an enjoyable one, and Naschy gives a great performance that carries at least his part of the movie.

 

... and then there is of course the Brazilian flick Um Lobisomem na Amazônia (2005, Ivan Cardoso), an a little bit insane re-interpretation of H.G.Wells' The island of Dr. Moreau, with Naschy playing the good doctor. Unfortunately the film has not been released internationally as of yet, even though director Cardoso has the best credentials, having learned his trade from Coffin Joe himself, José Mojica Marins ...

 

... even though he has grown immensely as an actor, I doubt that Paul Naschy will ever be considered a serious thespian, and if he plays any more roles (which is unsure inasmuch as the man is by now in his 70's), they will most probably be in the B-horror genre and no match for his acting skills ... but all this is only secondary to the role he has played in the field of Euro-horror as a whole. True, many of his films were underbudgeted, clichéd, badly made and badly written, but at least for the dedicated trash fan most of them were also immensely enjoyable, and time and again, one could actually find a cinematic gem ...

 

Update: Sadly, Paul Naschy passed away in November 2009 in Madrid, having suffered from pancreatic cancer.

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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