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, featuring the tragic werewolf character, 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 favourites.

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!



The plot revolves around intrepid anthropologist and doomed werewolf-to-be Waldemar Daninsky as he joins an expedition 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.’ We eventually 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, he is cured by the blossom of a mystical flower and is able to wander off into the sunrise, misty-eyed and hand in hand with his true love.



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 actually quite graphic scene in which a captive woman is flayed, and the sex scene in the cave, are perhaps reasons why this otherwise fairly tame 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.

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

Comments

Jenn said…
You did a lovely job describing one of my favorite Naschy titles. It never seemed like he was happy with any of his films, at least the ones that happen to be favorites of mine.

And thank you so much for the dedication. I'm humbled :)

You rock, James. Here's to many more Naschy-movie viewings for both of us!
James Gracey said…
Yay! I really must try and check out more Waldemar Daninsky flicks, seeing as how this one was so jolly good. I really love the look of Naschy's werewolf.

I can see now why you're such a fan!
Thanks for stoppin' by - hope you've had a cool weekend. :)
Jenn said…
There is so much goodness there. Nothing like a Spanish werewolf. I can watch them over and over and never get bored. I think it's because Naschy loves horror so much. He 'got' it, you know. It wasn't like it was trendy in Franco's Spain or anything. It was truly art for the sake of art, the real deal. That really resonates with me, ya know. That, and he was always scripting himself getting it on with the loveliest of ladies. Gotta love that shamelessness. His movies are such a good combination of just about everything I love. Glad to see someone else falling for his work.
James Gracey said…
Spoken like a true fan, Jenn! Naschy sounds like such an interesting character and I'm very keen to check out some more of his stuff.
Also cool that he was kinda anti-establishment in his own way. And as for the shamelessness of getting it on with all the lovelies in his movies... He's kinda like the James Bond of the horror genre! :)

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