Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Fury of the Wolfman

To say I am a Paul Naschy fan is a gross understatement. I love the man. I love his unrestrained creative genuis, I love his gothic aesthetic. I love that he gets it on with every woman that crosses his path on screen. I love that they fall in love with him again and again. I love that he constantly recycles his Waldemere character with no explanation of his return, since he always dies in the end. I have even thought of changing my cat Bela's name to Paul Naschy on more than one separate occasion. There are many more reasons to love him, but if you don't already swoon at the sight of his pecs and basically worship the ground he walks on, don't start with Fury of the Wolfman. Now, I freakin' loved Fury of the Wolfman, because of it's all consuming Naschyness, extremely mad science, and complete lack of restraint, but dare I say it is really for the already Naschy initiated? It's fairly wild and hard to keep up - I don't know if I all-together did that great a job at it. Allow me to illustrate.

One dark and stormy night, our dear Waldemere returns home to his wife, Erica, after a snowy expedition in Tibet of which he is the only survivor. In a flashback sequence I can hardly describe in words - think three scenes superimposed over each other all going at once- Waldemere remembers an avalanche and a strange creature (a Yeti!?) and the fact that all his friends are missing and will likely never be found. He's also suffering a Yeti related injury (a bite?) which causes him to writhe around and seek the help of the smokin' hot, but icy, Dr. Ilona back at the University where he teaches classes in something, I'm not quite sure what, but that involve lecturing around a corpse on an operating table and may or may not have something to do with an investigation on metabolism(?). This is also not the only time Naschy will tangle with a Yeti. He runs afoul of one in The Night of the Howling Beast as well, another must see!

Dr. Ilona is a brilliant professor in her own right, teaches classes in MAD science and is seemingly the only one that can help cure Waldemere from his Yeti disease. Seems most of her research involves creating 'human cyborgs which will eventually lead to the resolution of all that is known' (Dr. Ilona's words). Fair enough. But it seems Dr. Ilona's lovely lab assistant, Karen, expresses some moral concern over the good doctor's experiments. Dr. Ilona dismisses Karen, saying that she can 'help mankind through science.' It's expressions like this that make me giddy with pleasure. I love a good line about mankind and science, even if it's from the fringes of MAD science, in fact, even better if it's MAD.

Okay, this is only like the first ten or fifteen minutes of the movie and it's already pretty confusing. I honestly couldn't write my notes fast enough - usually I just jot down some key stuff, here, I was writing whole sentences and trying to record everything possible, because there's SO MUCH going on. I would look away and several key moments would be lost. I literally could not keep up. And it only gets more ridiculous. So my efforts are futile.

So Ilona agrees to help Paul and tells him to meet her at her apartment later that night. Upon returning to his vehicle, Waldemere receives a note from a student that is having an affair with Erica (remember Waldemere's wife?). He's so distraught that he gets in a car accident, but no mere car accident can hurt Paul Naschy, shit, a possible Yeti-induced avalanche can't kill the man, so he dusts himself off after crawling out of the wreck and returns home to find Erica gone. I noticed that he has a great suit of armor in his house, something I've always wanted. To truly have a great gothic looking and/or haunted house, you've got to have a suit of armor. I've got the coffin coffee table and the skulls and the taxidermy, and the pickled animals floating in jars, all I really need now is a suit of armor.

So Waldemere goes to see Ilona and she apparently knew about the affair between Erica and the student but that's of no matter, because she can cure of his disease, 'as long as he acts like a real man.' Some other stuff may or may not happen, seriously, I can't discern my notes really, and a storm happens and Waldemere wolfs out and attacks Erica, biting her on the neck. Her suitor interupts the attack, and Waldemere makes quick work of him as well. Then he does a bunch of frenzied leaps all over the town and ends up electrocuted in the woods as the storm rages on.

Next thing we know, Ilona is lecturing, while wearing her sunglasses, about the domination of mankind through the absolute control of the brain, which no students seem to find unsettling, it must be MAD scientist school. She then has a moment of silence for the passing of Waldemere. I drew some arrows and wrote a note about Waldemere seeming nervous and weird upon his return from Tibet and then (again, the next thing you know), Ilona has found a parchment and knows Waldemere can't die. It's here that I really narrow my eyes at Ilona, she's up to no good for reals this time, not just talkin' crazy about domination of the brain and so forth. She gets some dudes to dig up Waldemere's body, dismissing their apprehension, 'don't worry, his mind is dominated,' and brings him back to her house to 'reach limits that are superhuman.' Sounds sexy. Heddy and Barbara, two hawty lab assistant babes, will assist her in reaching said superhuman limits. Sounds even sexier. She claims, 'the experiments we shall do here shall revolutionize science!' Good lord, I've always wanted to say that and mean it! Dr. Ilona's my hero, seriously.

Oh, and did I mention the whole thing about Karen's (remember her?) reporter boyfriend being worried about the situation with Ilona and some police involment subplot into the circumstances surrounding Waldemere's death? I didn't? Oh, don't worry about it, I can't even begin to get into it here.
So one of the babelicious lab assistants gets all worked up about the doc's experiments. You thought you were confused before? Well, how about adding a man standing in a giant plant who is 'neither animal or plant but after the doctor's experiments, they'll be authentical mutants!' She obviously is as confused as I am and raves, 'It can't be scientific! It can't be scientific!' She's soon killed for her insolence. If there is one thing to be gleaned from this entire exercise, it's that Dr. Ilona is NOT to be fucked with.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the chemotrodes! the chemotrodes! These chemotrodes, a discovery of Ilona's I think, will destroy the destructive parts of Waldemere's brain, leaving him completely in her control. Ilona, where can I get some of these chemotrodes? I've got a man or two I need in my complete control. There's also a man wandering around wearing a rubber mask. At this point, I've completely surrendered my control to this movie, just like Waldemere at the hands of Ilona. I just can't keep up. Who is the man in the rubber mask? A patient of Ilona's? Best not to worry about it.

Also best not to worry about the dirty hippies and Spanish dwarf that have broken into Ilona's 'hermetically sealed' (don't ask, 'cause I don't know) abode and are partying in the dungeon.

So Waldemere wolfs out again while chained to a wall and Ilona whips him with a bull whip. Sex-ay, again. He frees himself of his shackles and jumps through a window and mauls a man writing at a desk, who's mother (?), upon finding the body two seconds later, alerts the proper authorities, those police detective types in the subplot. The dogs get hot on his trail, but not before he rapes a raven haired beauty. Then he just kinda strolls about (what happened to the frenzied leaping of earlier?) wearing a different outfit. It's almost as if some the scenes were taken from other Waldemere movies. Like there's a shot of him in period garb and this movie takes place, I think, in present day 1970's. And his shirt keeps changing color. One minute it will be a blue shirt, the next, maroon.

So after his little maul, rape, and stroll, he returns to Ilona's in Waldemere form, albeit looking disheveled, and fights a guy wearing a suit of armor who comes outta nowhere. I swear I glance away for one second and the next thing I know Waldemere's sword fighting some knight and Karen's passed out. Or I might not have even glanced away, who knows? Then Karen's revived and she and Waldemere keep trying to escape but discover some corpses instead. Along the line, Waldemere discloses to Karen the ways he can be killed, either by the hands of a beast like himself or by a woman who loves him.

Then we hear about a certain Dr. Helmut Wolfstein (I wish my name was Wolfstein - from here on out, you must refer to me as Mistress Wolfstein - I was initially going to say 'please refer' but Mistress Wolfstein doesn't say please) because I think Waldemere and Karen find his journals or papers or some such evidence of him having existed and done some werewolf experiments or something. There's a ceremony involving Ilona, the body of Helmut (I think he turned out to be the guy in the rubber mask stalking the corridors AND as Ilona's dad), a Great Dane, and several hotties holding candles. Sounds sexy. Come to find out, Waldemere is cursed by Ilona and this whole thing was her doing so Waldemere would kill Erica because Ilona was really in love with him. I think.

So Ilona does the only sensible thing, she digs up Erica's body, shackles it to a wall and brings it back to life as a werewolf! Waldemere does his wolf thang too, and we are then treated, I believe, to the only husband and wife werewolf showdown in the history of werewolf showdowns! It's also nice to see a female werewolf for a change - you don't see them often.

My final note for this Naschy-fest is as follows verbatim: Ilona shoots Waldemere because she loved him back in the day. I can't think of a better way to end this write-up, even though I normally don't transpose my notes word for word in blog form. But I'll end it like that here, mainly because I feel kinda drunk reading what I wrote and trying to remember all the sordid details.

Good times! Now, it might not seem like it, but like I said, I loved this movie. It was so ridiculous, so hilarious, so MAD, I couldn't help but laugh maniacally as none of it made much sense. I was left almost beaten by this thing, hanging and shaking my head, for fear I had been defeated. But alas, I had not! In fact, it was the most entertained I had been in awhile, because I had completely surrendered control - it was like I was flying high through a werewolf, MAD lady scientist, suit of armor, dead body, Naschy-land for a fleeting second, and this felt invincible, amazing, incredible.

My one complaint is this - no nudity. Not even some real good sexy times scenes involving Paul and any one of the Euro-babes in this thing. And you know they all want to throw themselves at him. Who wouldn't? At least he takes his shirt off on several occasions.

Anyone want to shed some light on this one for me? Or is it best just left as is, confusing, wonderful, weird, and mad science filled?


  1. I think I can help out a little here, Jenn, though in fairness to you, you've done a pretty accurate job of capturing the fever-dream viewing experience awaiting anyone who picks up FURY OF THE WOLFMAN.

    The director here, José María Zabalza, was a raging alcoholic. He was regularly 3-sheets windward while directing, and occasionally passed out drunk on-set, at which point his 14-year-old nephew took over, telling the crew "what his uncle wanted" and sometimes even rewriting the dialogue. Yes, the kid. So the parts of FotWM that weren't directed by a drunk were directed by a kid in jr. high school. (I know, it sounds crazy, but I'm taking this from Naschy's autobiography and the excellent "Mark of Naschy" website, so it must be true!)

    You're right to notice the weird juxtaposition of the Naschy wolf-out leapitude we know and love vs. the "werewolf strut" in certain scenes, since Zabalza shot several pick-up scenes without Naschy, with another actor in his make-up! BLASPHEMY! Not only that, but the "period costume" scene you talk about, I think you'll find, is actually footage cribbed from CURSE OF THE DEVIL, a far superior Naschy vehicle.

    Anyway, can you imagine the FURY OF THE NASCHY when he found out about Zabalza's tinkerings? By all accounts Jacinto was so furious, he refused ever to work with Zabalza again, and indeed never did.

    For all its faults, though, I still love this movie. It's a Naschy overdose, a hurricane of Jacinto. It's definitely the most out-of-control Waldemar Daninsky flick I've seen, and that's going some distance.

    BTW--chances are good that a nudity-filled version exists somewhere, but you can imagine this one being low on the to-be-restored for DVD list. ;) You should totally pick up a copy of MEMOIRS OF A WOLFMAN by Naschy, though--it's available on Amazon used and is a cracking read. It's even translated! ;)

  2. OH! And the "Wolfstein" thing is, I think, a reference to the FIRST Daninsky movie, FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR. Which it goes w/out saying you need to see. ;)

  3. Wow. So a fourteen year old kid directed parts of this? That's too wild, but it makes sense. I'm sure, as much of an ego-maniac as Naschy was (is?), he was downright furious. And damn, Zabalaza sounds worse than me in the I'm such a fucking drunkard department :)

    I have not yet procured a copy of Memoirs of a Wolfman, but it is on the list. I think I might need to take a crack at that sometime quite soon.

    I have seen Curse of the Devil (I love that freakin' cover art where Naschy's head slowly transforms into the wolfman head) and Frankenstein's Bloody Terror was the first Naschy vehicle I cut my teeth on - both are smashing good times and are responsible for my obsession to this day.

    Thanks for the great background info - to refer to this as a fever dream experience is spot on!

  4. I am another HUGE Naschy fan, but this one ranked much lower for me than many of the other Hombre Lobo entries. I would love to see a decent copy, but I could only find a cheap Public Domain copy with terrible edits and grain. For my taste, Night of the Werewolf showed the most technical prowess and most beautiful cinematography!

  5. Great review, Je... I mean uh, Mistress Wolfstein. I think I might have this movie in one of my public domain box set thingies so I may have to check it out sooner than later. The only other Naschy movie I've seen was about satanic rituals and witches, so I may need to hit up one of his Hombre Lobo movies to get a full appreciation for the Naschy.

  6. You will not be disappointed - just surrender complete control and let it overtake you.

    Hmm, satanic rituals and witches? You might have seen Vengeance of the Zombies - although not part of the Daninsky cycle, still superb - he's a triple threat in that one, acting in three different roles, including the devil!

    The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Women appears on one of those public domain box things, also a good one! Let me know how your adventures in Naschy-land go!

  7. Cool review. Nice to find a kindred spirit on here. You just can't beat obscure horror and drunken rambling, can you? Its like looking into some sort of bizarre blog mirror. Great site - keep up the good work. :P

  8. Thanks! I've met lots of cool kindred spirits in doing this blog! Nothing goes with a horror movie like a big bottle of wine, either :)

  9. Jenn, it was actually a film called Inquisicion that I saw. It's a neat little flick, have you seen it? I sought it out because of an actress that's in it and it turned out to be a Paul Naschy joint. Bonus!

  10. Aaron, I don't think I have seen Inquisition. I must see it though, since it's got my man in it! Thanks, I will seek it out!

  11. Sweet, let me know what you think about it if you end up watching it. And watch out for the nipple-clamping scene!

  12. I wish I'd seen this sooner. I'm hosting a WEREWOLF Night at a NY Theater and one section of the show is our "Tribute to Paul Naschy", an appreciation essay, with clips from "Vampire Women", "Fury of the Wolfman" and the hard-to-find "Werewolf Vs. The Yeti" (where his character does not die in the end, but get cured.)