Saturday, 23 April 2011

Beyond Re-Animator

2003
Dir. Brian Yuzna

Surviving the collapse of the crypt he was cornered in by a horde of his reanimated corpses, Dr Hebert West continues to conduct his grisly experiments. He is eventually arrested and imprisoned but continues his research. When a young doctor named Howard Phillips begins work at the prison, he teams up with West to help bring his experiments to the next level. Hell breaks loose and copious blood is spilled however when several of the reanimated corpses break free and wreck havoc in the prison. Creative carnage grisly mutations ensue.

Stuart Gordon’s progressive and splattery adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s short story Herbert West: Re-Animator was one of the defining horror films of the Eighties. Fiercely independent, unconventional, awash with splashy effects and boasting the darkest, severed tongue-in-cheek humour imaginable, Re-Animator still wields its grisly power and effectiveness today. It was followed by the Brian Yuzna directed sequel Bride of Re-Animator, which while nowhere near as original or daring as its predecessor, still had its fair share of jaw-dropping spectacles. Yuzna returns to the director’s chair for this, the third and arguably weakest instalment in the series thus far.


While certain scenes really revive the spirit of the original, the film still pales in comparison. In many ways it simply retreads events from the original with West immersing himself in his amoral experiments at all costs, while his idealistic and naive assistant becomes involved with a woman whose death and subsequent reanimation pushes him over the edge. Setting the story in a gloomy prison adds an air of claustrophobia and tension – West’s fellow prisoners are a nasty bunch that poses as much of a threat to him as his reanimated monstrosities do. When the inevitable guts begin to hit the fan and slosh across the screen, Yuzna trots out a plethora of eye-widening set pieces and astounding special effects, and the film, at last, really hits its stride.

Highlights include the opening scene where a couple of young kids and the sister of one of them are menaced by a jawless zombie in their leafy suburban home, the appearance of a reanimated torso swiftly closing in on West and the closing credits sequence boasting the unforgettable sight of a rat tussling with a reanimated dismembered penis. No, really!
The very likable Elsa Pataky and Jason Barry help give the film a little warmth, but the undisputed highlight of the film is Jeffrey Combs as the irrepressible Herbert West, and even though he isn’t given enough to do, when he is onscreen and delivering his lines in that inimitably drool and emotionally detached manner, he has real presence and wry charisma.


Beyond Re-Animator is a fun, gore-sated ride for fans of the prior instalments of the series. While it hasn’t radically revitalised the splat-schtick of the original or done anything stunningly original, it still possesses the sick charm and messy joy de vivre you’d expect it to. Plus its got Jeffrey Combs in it!

Beyond Re-Animator was produced by Brian Yuzna’s Spanish film company Fantastic Factory, a company set up with Julio Fernández to produce modestly budgeted genre films for the international market using international genre talent as well as local talent. The lovely folks over at the ever-amazing Arrow Video have gathered together a collection of Fantastic Factory’s output in one beautifully packaged boxset. It serves to highlight the work of an interesting production company and often overlooked filmmaker, Brian Yuzna, whose work, while sometimes uneven, could never be accused of not being interesting.

The Arrow Video boxset was released on 18th April 2011. It includes Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt, Beyond Re-Animator, Arachnid and Faust: Love of the Damned.

Special features on the Beyond Re-Animator disc include:

- Audio commentary by director Brian Yuzna
- “All In The Head” – Brian Yuzna on the Re-Animator Chronicles (50 mins)
- Original trailer
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring new artwork
- Collectors’ booklet featuring “World Of Lovecraft” and an interview with star Jeffrey Combs by author and critic Calum Waddell
- An extract from H.P. Lovecraft’s original story “Herbert West: Re-animator”
- Reversible sleeve featuring brand new and original artwork
- English Stereo, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio options.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt

2004
Dir. Paco Plaza

Spain, 1851. The inhabitants of a small village are terrorised by a savage serial killer. Ravaged corpses bear both animalistic mutilation and precise surgical incisions. As the village is plunged into panic-ridden chaos, travelling salesman Manuel Romasanta eventually confesses to the crimes, but claims that he is not responsible for his actions because he is a werewolf…

Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt is a sensual, unusual, boldly original and at times rather uneven take on the werewolf film. It is based on the true story of Spain’s first documented serial killer, Manuel Blanco Romasanta, who confessed to thirteen murders in the mid-nineteenth century. Writers Elena Serra and Alberto Marini (who specialise in lo-fi, brooding horror such as Darkness, The Machinist and The Fragile) have written a screenplay that concentrates more on presenting the story as a historical drama allegedly based on facts, than a typical monster movie, while director Plaza adopts the slow-burn approach to tease out the story. Before he upped his ante and co-directed the startlingly effective and terrifying camcorder horror [rec], Plaza made the subdued, moody psychological thriller The Second Name, co-written with British horror writer and MR James enthusiast Ramsey Campbell, and Romasanta’s low-key execution shares more in common with that film than the former.


While an interesting take on the genre, Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt is nowhere near as full-blooded as it could be and sadly it eventually just runs out of steam. In place of what should have been a feverish denouement, it just trails off, resulting in an effect akin to someone relaying an intriguing enough story, but just trailing off mid-sentence.
Lush photography and elegant framing techniques ensure the film is always beautiful to look at, and a number of striking moments such as the flaming carriage rushing through the forest at night and the expertly realised and disturbing reverse transformation sequence will sear themselves onto the viewer’s retinas for some time to come. The period setting lends proceedings an irresistibly gothic atmosphere, and events languidly unravel in dark forests, quaint peasant villages and isolated farmhouses.
It’s all just too subdued though; while story development and characterisation are a welcome aspect, the sluggish pacing does have a negative impact on the film.


Leads Julian Sands and Elsa Pataky carry the film, and Sands in particular ignites the screen whenever he appears. The classically trained theatre actor has often been accused of hamming it up in much of his film work. Here however, he plays it straight and never once resorts to histrionics. He is equal parts charming and sinister – a part he is more than able to play considering some of his past roles, such as The Phantom in Dario Argento’s dire Phantom of the Opera and the dashing but deadly Yves Cloquet in David Cronenberg’s queasy Naked Lunch.

Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt is an interesting and beautifully produced, though ultimately quite flawed and rather beige film. While it takes its time to build story and character, it cheats by not providing a fitting pay-off to equal the carefully sustained anticipation.

Romasanta was produced by Brian Yuzna’s Spanish film company Fantastic Factory, a company set up with Julio Fernández to produce modestly budgeted genre films for the international market using international genre talent as well as local talent. The lovely folks over at the ever-amazing Arrow Video have gathered together a collection of Fantastic Factory’s output in one beautifully packaged boxset. It serves to highlight the work of an interesting production company and often overlooked filmmaker, Brian Yuzna, whose work, while sometimes uneven, could never be accused of not being interesting.

The Arrow Video boxset was released on 18th April 2011. It includes Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt, Beyond Re-Animator, Arachnid and Faust: Love of the Damned.

Special features on the Romasanta disc include:

- Reversible sleeve featuring brand new and original artwork
- Romasanta: Lycanthropes, Lunacy and the Last Days of The Fantastic Factory
- Making Romasanta: Interviews with director Paco Plaza, stars Julian Sands, Elsa Pataky and John Sharian.
- A featurette on the S/FX design in Romasanta
- Interview with composer Mikel Salas
- Deleted Scenes with introduction and commentary by director Paco Plaza
- Original Trailer
- Double-sided fold-out poster featuring new artwork
- Collector’s booklet ‘Sex, Sun and Sinful Celluloid’ by author and critic Calum Waddell

2.35:1 (16x9) Anamorphic
English Stereo/Spanish 5.1 with optional English subtitles
Region 0 PAL

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Warlock

Moments before he’s set to be burned alive on a pyre of kitties, an evil warlock (Julian Sands) uses the dark arts to transport himself from 1691 Boston to 1991 downtown LA, in order to escape the flames and track down the Satanic bible, which he hopes to use to bring about Armageddon.
Fortunately, ‘Warlockfinder General’ Giles Redferne (Richard E Grant) is hot on his heels. They crash into the life of sassy chick Kassandra (Lori Singer) who is subsequently cursed to age 20 years a day until the warlock is apprehended.

While immensely trashy, Warlock also takes itself very seriously, which is probably its saving grace. A number of striking ideas pepper the schlock, and it's interesting to see how writer DT Twohy mingles medieval superstition with more contemporary ‘old wives tales’ and practices, and a healthy dose of Eighties sass.

Head over to Eye for Film to read my full review.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh

1971
Dir. Sergio Martino

The arrival in Vienna of international diplomat Neil Wardh and his wife Julie, coincides with a spate of vicious murders. In her husband’s increasing absence, Julie finds herself the (mainly) unwilling recipient of attention from her sadomasochistic ex, Jean and her latest suitor, George. As the killer continues to wreck havoc, and Julie's affair with George becomes more torrid, it becomes apparent that the victims are all connected to her and she begins to suspect each of the men in her life of being the sadistic maniac… Can she work out who it is before it’s too late?

During the early seventies, just after Dario Argento’s dazzling and justly influential The Bird with the Crystal Plumage sparked a trailblazing trend, director Sergio Martino made several giallo films back to back which would come to represent several of the genre’s most evocative and archetypal entries. Giallo (plural: gialli) is Italian for ‘yellow’ and the name originates from the trademark yellow covers of pulp crime-thriller books that were extremely popular in Italy. Their cinematic equivalents featured titillating scenes of sex and violence in an often blinding amalgamation of exploitation grit and art-house chic. The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh was Martino’s first foray into the dizzily stylish genre and despite the fact that the director is criminally underrated - due in part to the fact that he dabbled in so many different genres, including westerns, sci-fi and comedies – the film stands as one of the finest and most exemplary gialli ever made.


The title itself is a riff on the 1946 noir The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, a film thigh deep in its conveyance of the affinity of sex and death; a common trait of most gialli. The various locations which provide the chic backdrop for the story – Vienna and Spain - lend the film a distinctly international flavour and jet-set feel. Bucking the trend of setting and filming gialli in Italy, Martino imbues his already ravishing film with an exotic and heady atmosphere, particularly when events move to Spain. Memories of Mario Bava’s groundbreaking The Girl Who Knew Too Much are also evoked from the get-go with the introduction of the exquisite Julie Wardh (Edwige Fenech) descending an escalator in an airport.

Martino and cinematographers Emilio Foriscot and Floriano Trenker have created an alluring looking film peppered with strikingly framed and seductive shots – most notably the dream sequences and flashbacks revealing the protagonist's titular vice - she is equally repelled and aroused by the sight of blood. Julie and her former lover Jean (Ivan Rassimov - Torso) are shown in darkness, locked in an unsettling tryst as he slaps her and showers her in broken glass. Filmed in delicious slow-motion, these erotically charged moments really fuse the film with an intoxicating malaise, as does Nora Orlandi’s sensual and eerie score. Other flashbacks of their abusive relationship feature the two writhing around in slow-motion in torrential rain in a wood. Compelling POV shots and sharp editing also adds to the intriguing blend of old fashioned sexual politics, misogynistic leanings, red herrings, sadistic killers decked out in black leather gloves, glinting switchblades, psycho-sexual deviancy, kitsch Seventies décor and Edwige Fenech’s sultry beauty and tremulous glances.



The film’s central mystery eventually builds to a twist, which when revealed, is genuinely surprising and should prompt viewers to rethink certain events previously played out. It pays homage to a particular Hitchcock thriller. Various set pieces dominate proceedings, such as Carol’s murder in the park during a rose-tinted sunset – which echoes a similar scene in the Jacques Tourneur directed/Val Lewton produced The Leopard Man, and would be revisited in Dario Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet. Martino’s pacing is quite uneven though, and when he isn’t creating astoundingly beautiful and oddly unnerving flashbacks, or staging wonderfully orchestrated scenes of violence and carnage, the story saunters along at a too leisurely pace, occasionally veering into exposition-heavy scenes that weigh down the thrust of the narrative. As the story progresses however, Martino cranks the tension ever higher until the fizzling, suspense-ridden denouement with its plethora of revelations, perverse twists and ingenious use of an ice-cube and the sound of a heartbeat.



While Martino’s gialli may lack the complexity or subtextuality of the likes of Argento’s masterful works, they are still shining examples of the genre that remain as entertaining, imperative and stylish as they ever were. As well as the dazzling array of style, intriguing mystery and suspense, The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh also benefits from the irresistible triptych of Edwige Fenech, Ivan Rassimov and George Hilton together for the first time. The three would become synonymous with the genre and go on to star together again in several other titles, including Martino’s second excursion into the genre, the beautifully titled All the Colours of the Dark.

The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh was released on DVD (£15.99) by Shameless Screen Entertainment on 28 March 2011.

Special Features Include:

- English audio and optional Italian with English subtitles.
- All-new 20 minute interview with director Sergio Martino titled Thrills, Chills and Cleavage*.
- Introduction by director Sergio Martino.
- Shameless Fact Track by Justin Harries.
- Theatrical trailer plus complete Shameless Trailer Park.
- Edwige Fenech bio presentation.

*The title of this interview was taken from an article I wrote about Martino. Exciting stuff, eh!? The article can be read here. Aside from a couple of minor typos in the subtitles, this unfussy special feature is top drawer stuff! It sheds much welcome light on the work of Martino - a vastly under-appreciated director. Insightful, probing and jam-packed with juicy information, titbits and exclusive anecdotes, the interview showcases a razor-sharp and candid Martino, interspersed with clips and stills from his work – particularly his luminous gialli.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Cat People

The first film in a series of moody, literate horror films produced by Val Lewton in the 1940s, Cat People is an evocative example of how effective the ‘less is more’ approach to horror can be. Directed with effective restraint by Jacques Tourneur, the film is a masterpiece of mood and atmosphere. Choosing to suggest the horror rather than show it outright, Cat People remains a beautifully eerie and atmospheric chiller to this day. One of the first films to reference the work of Sigmund Freud, it plays out as a dark and unflinching study of sexual repression and anxiety.

Head over to the Classic Horror Campaign to read my full review.

Keep up to date with the Classic Horror Campaign on Facebook and sign their petition to return classic horror double bills to BBC scheduling.

Classic Horror Campaign Presents: A Horror Double Bill!

The lovely folks behind the Classic Horror Campaign have just announced the launch of a series of horror double bills! The first event takes place this Easter on Good Friday, at the Roxy Bar & Screen in London.
Starting at 3pm on April 22nd and in the old tradition of the BBC Horror Double Bills, there will be a double bill screening of Night of the Demon (1957) followed by Hammer’s classic Vampire Circus (1972).
As well as the movie screenings there will be some horror DVD giveaways and the opportunity of appearing on the Classic Horror Campaign website when they post coverage of the event.

Tickets are £5 and are available on the door. Seating is limited, so it’s recommended that you get there early.

More details of The Horror Double Bill event can be found on the Classic Horror Campaign Facebook page - so check it out regularly for updates. And why not support the campaign in its noble cause to bring back the old classic horror double bills to BBC scheduling, and sign their petition...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Night Train Murders

1975
Dir. Aldo Lado

AKA
L'ultimo treno della notte, The New House on The Left, Second House on The Left, Don't Ride on Late Night Trains, Last Stop on the Night Train, Late Night Trains, Last House Part II and Xmas Massacre

Two young girls are dealt a harsh blow by fate when they take a night train from Germany to Italy and cross paths with two thugs and a psychotic nymphomaniac. What follows is a gruelling night of degradation, rape and murder. In another twist of fate the murderous trio eventually encounter the parents of one of the girls. When the realisation of their daughter’s ghastly fate onboard the night train occurs, the parents’ exact bloody revenge…

A loose reworking of Wes Craven’s groundbreaking grit-fest, Last House on the Left, and therefore Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, Lado’s outing is a much more stylish, polished affair, raising it to a loftier status than its American predecessor. While Craven featured grimy realism, Lado opts for cinematic flair that still packs a weighty punch. Night Train Murders uncoils amidst an utterly claustrophobic setting with slow-burning, sustained suspense. Not content to just create a bloody, censor-baiting revenge yarn, Lado works notions of fate, social responsibility and class conflict into the mix too, ensuring the film is not just another mindless Italo rip-off. Not that there’s anything wrong with mindless Italo rip-offs, mind you.


Those familiar with the underappreciated director’s other genre work, such as the unusual and stunningly shot gialli, Who Saw Her Die? and Short Night of Glass Dolls – will know that his work is imbued with intelligence and political subtext, as well as being exquisitely photographed. The director also addressed themes of class struggle in the highly original Short Night of Glass Dolls and its depiction of an older, higher-class generation literally feeding off their subordinates.

Opening with impressive shots of bustling squares and thoroughfares in the heart of Munich, Lado’s camera swoops and prowls amongst the crowds, gradually singling out the film’s protagonists with repeated shots of them amongst the throngs of people; the girls - Irene Miracle (Inferno), and Laura D’Angelo - happily shopping, the two thugs - Flavio Bucci (Suspiria) and Gianfranco De Grassi (The Church) - getting into scuffles and the mysterious 'lady on the train' - Macha Meril (Deep Red) - mopping around wearing a veil, looking all prim and aloof. The way the shots are cut together, the randomness of people’s actions and the paths they decide to take, highlights the idea of fate and how it weaves lives together. Of the abundance of people we see, it is the two girls, the two young men and the lady with the veil whose paths will cross, ensuring devastation will be wrought.



Played with icy calm and rapturous exhalation by Macha Meril, ‘the lady on the train’ is clearly the figure of authority manipulating the whole sordid situation. Meril’s icy beauty and austereness was highlighted in Dario Argento’s Deep Red to convey her fragility and vulnerability, whereas here it renders her a cold-hearted, callous bitch! She echoes the members of the sect from Lado’s Short Night of Glass Dolls in her representation of the sadistic power of the establishment. From the opening scenes it was arguably evident that louts Blackie and Curly, were perhaps all bark and no bite. Curly must rely on drugs to ensure he can see through the miscreant deeds. While certainly not civilised or even remotely exempt of blame or responsibility, the pair of reprobates might not have taken things as far as they did were it not for the older woman. It wasn’t until their encounter with the seemingly prim and haughty ice queen that things begin to get out of hand. Instead of feigning off their sleazy come-on, she actively goads them into perverse sex with her. Spurned on by her ever outrageous and morbid demands, the young men eventually molest and humiliate the girls as the older woman extracts pleasure from the seedy proceedings.

The violence is for the most part, kept off screen. Sometimes, just off screen. The most graphic moment occurs when Lisa is cruelly forced to admit her virginity and subsequently raped with a blade. The humiliation and abuse dealt the girls is also psychological and delivers a stinging welt. One of the most unsettling moments comes when the dire situation the girls find themselves in is inter-cut with their middle-class parents welcoming friends to their comfortable house for dinner and drinks, oblivious to their daughter’s plight.


Morricone’s score exploits a similarly lonely and atmospheric harmonica riff as that deployed in Once Upon A Time In the West. Characters are identified by music motifs throughout, especially Curly, who actually plays the instrument onscreen, and his tune features as the main motif of the soundtrack. In one particularly taut moment, the presence of the trio of misfits is signalled by the baleful strains of his harmonica, rendered ominously creepy by the mounting anxiety of the girls and the strangely deserted train they’re hurtling through the night in. The lighting in these scenes becomes decidedly lurid as events progress, as though mirroring the nightmarish world the girls now find themselves in.

Night Train Murders is a carefully structured, bleak and provocative thriller that in many ways betters its source material, and once again highlights Aldo Lado’s unique vision and the fact that he’s a sorely overlooked filmmaker.

The film was banned as a video nasty in 1983 in the UK, after being rejected by the BBFC when submitted for cinema classification in 1976. Even though it was acquitted and removed from the list in 1984, it still never got a release until 2008 when it was finally passed uncut and distributed on DVD by Shameless Screen Entertainment.

Check out the trailer here.

Friday, 1 April 2011

The Werewolf and The Yeti

Paul Naschy (born Jacinto Molina Alvarez) is a cult icon and one of the most significant figures in the history of Spanish Horror cinema. He is best known for his twelve “Hombre Lobo” movies, a collection of unrelated stories that all feature the character of tragic werewolf, Waldemar Daninsky (played by Naschy himself). The Werewolf and The Yeti AKA Night of the Howling Beast AKA Curse of the Beast AKA Hall of the Mountain King, is the eighth in the series, and was directed by Spanish exploitation devotee, Miguel Iglesias, under the alias M.I. Bonns. Made at a time when Spanish horror films were starting to fade out of popularity after their ‘Golden Age’ in the early Seventies, The Werewolf And The Yeti would be the last Daninsky picture for several years, until Naschy returned in 1980 with El Retorno del Hombre Lobo/Return of the Wolf Man; one of his own personal favourite films.

The Werewolf And The Yeti’s pre-cert VHS release was banned in the UK by the BBFC under the Video Recordings Act of 1984, and was featured on the “Video Nasties” list. Interestingly, although the film would be one of several titles quickly dropped from the Video Nasty list, and despite many of the titles on the original list finally achieving release anyway, The Werewolf and the Yeti has never been released in the UK – it remains unavailable to this day. The version I watched was acquired online and had no English subtitles or dubbing, but the quality of the film was surprisingly good. Hey, the dialogue isn’t that crucial in a film called The Werewolf And The Yeti! My Spanish isn’t great, but I was still able to follow what was going on for the sake of this article…



The plot revolves around intrepid anthropologist and doomed werewolf-to-be Waldemar Daninsky as he joins an expedition led by Professor Lacombe to Tibet in search of Yetis. Becoming stranded at a hotel during a snowstorm Waldemar and a guide who claims to know a secret path through the mountains, decide to chance it and head out into the storm. They eventually become lost in the snow-covered terrain and the guide does a runner, leaving poor Waldemar to the mercy of the elements.

Wondering about in a snowstorm-induced daze, it isn’t long before he happens across a cave in which he takes shelter. Exploring its Mario Bava-lit depths, he happens upon two sisters who ‘revive’ him by performing various sexual acts. Unfortunately, they also turn out to be cannibalistic vampire-witches who feast on the flesh of their lovers. Waldemar manages to dispatch them, though not before he is bitten by one of them, and subsequently infected with ‘the curse of the beast.’



Meanwhile, Professor Lacombe and his expedition group have been taken prisoner by uber-bandit, Sekkar Khan. Lacombe’s totally hot daughter Sylvia manages to escape and is pursued by Khan’s men into the snow-swept wilds. As her pursuers catch up to her, with rape on their minds, Waldemar – who has turned into a werewolf – slaughters her attackers and saves her. Sylvia faints and when she awakes she encounters a disorientated Waldemar. They seek sanctuary in an abandoned monastery where they are told how to break ‘the curse of the beast’ – either by stabbing the werewolf with a silver dagger or administering the blossom of a mystical flower. Their stay at the monastery comes to a sudden end when they are captured and taken to the mountain fortress of uber-bandit Sekkar Khan. Hey, that’s where that bizarre title Hall of the Mountain King must come from!

Waldemar is chained up and made to watch as a captive woman is flayed alive; the skin from her back used to treat an unusual skin condition Khan suffers from. A sadistic sorceress called Wandessa, who also tries to seduce Waldemar, carries out the flaying, but he resists her evil charms. Meanwhile, Sylvia manages to escape from her cell along with several other scantily-clad women and free Waldemar, who then defeats Khan in an action-packed, leap-attack fuelled tussle. Realising that he is turning into a werewolf again, Waldemar attempts to abandon Sylvia for her own safety, only for the poor girl to wind up getting herself captured by the eponymous and hitherto elusive yeti. Finally, we get to the battle of the title, as Waldemar turns into a werewolf and has an action-packed, leap-attack fuelled tussle with the yeti. Needless to say, Waldemar kicks yeti butt, but is wounded in the process. As luck would have it though, Sylvia suddenly finds the magic flower that will save him. Talk about great timing! She mixes the blossom with her own blood and lets Waldemar sup it, transforming him back into human form, presumably breaking the curse. He and Sylvia then do what most folk in their position would do: wander off misty-eyed and hand in hand into the sunrise… Natch.



Naschy was apparently not particularly happy with The Werewolf and The Yeti, citing the likes of Miguel Iglesias’ direction, and the lack of brooding intensity and tragic malaise that permeated the prior Daninsky films as its major flaws. While it apparently fell short of the grand scope Naschy envisioned, The Werewolf and The Yeti is a much sought after rarity amongst fans, and Naschy even received the best actor award at the 1975 Sitges Film Festival for his performance.

The flaying scene where Melody has the skin stripped from her back is actually pretty graphic, especially when one considers when the film was made. The sex scene in the cave is perhaps another reason why the film found its way onto the video nasty list. Aside from the rather graphic two-on-one action, there’s also some just-out-of-camera-shot oral pleasuring that most likely pushed the BBFC right over the edge. In comparison with today’s standards these scenes seem quite tame, kitsch even, but at the time such scenes would have proved too provocative for censors. Wimps. Quite why the film has still never been released in the UK is a mystery though. Given that Naschy sadly passed away last year, and the huge cult following he has, the time for a release of his work in remastered form, maybe presented in a box-set, laden with extra-features – including a release of this title – is now.



According to www.naschy.com two English-language tapes are the sources of copies currently available; the now out-of-print Super Video release of Night of the Howling Beast (US/NTSC format) and the Dutch PAL on Sunrise Tapes release The Werewolf and The Yeti. The former is apparently the superior copy, despite claims by ‘reputable’ video copiers that the Dutch PAL tape contains ‘uncut’ scenes of torture, sex, nudity, cannibalism, etc, not found in other versions. Aside from the language used in the credits (the titles in the NTSC version are in Spanish, while the Dutch tape’s credits are in English), there is only one difference found between the two, and this takes place in the pre-credit sequence featuring a pan of the wintry landscape. The sequence is a few seconds longer in the Super Video ‘cut.’

This article is dedicated to Jenn over at Cavalcade of Perversions – the biggest Paul Naschy fan I know.