A classic slice of Spanish exploitation, this is Euro Horror at its finest. It runs like a Hammer film and contains many of the usual Gothic traditions - crucifixes, atmosphere, ruined graveyards, vampires, witches, werewolves, manacles, and deserted castles. The film is even set in an unspecified European locale (Northern France is mentioned, but this doesn't look much like France to me), so beloved of the Hammer studio. However, as this is a Spanish exploitation film and the Europeans were always less prudish than their British counterparts, there are the added touches of nudity (whenever women fight their tops get torn off, unsurprisingly) and more gore than we would usually expect from a fantasy piece about classic monsters like this. The gore is really icing on the cake though as the film is strong enough to stand up without it.
Highlights include the scene where Naschy kills his vampire sister and the final sequence where the witch dissolves into a maggot-covered skeleton. In the former, we watch as Naschy nonchalantly hammers a stake (with a huge mallet!) into his sister's chest, watching blood erupt from the wound, and then hacks her head off with an axe - all portrayed in a jaw-droppingly matter-of-fact way! The latter death scene is highly reminiscent of the influential Hammer Dracula deaths, once again a wax model being used to make it look like the corpse is decaying. A wonderfully over the top moment in a brilliant film.
This was my first exposure to Naschy's films and I have to say that I am greatly impressed. It would have been easy to let the gore run riot (no harm in that) and while the film isn't restrained, it also succeeds in building the type of atmosphere favoured by classic horror films from the decades before it. As a matter of interest, two of the classic monsters of the horror film are involved, and zombies and even the devil (well, his shadow anyway) turn up in bit parts. Naschy has said that he's fond of the Universal monster bashes of the 1940s, where one monster was teamed against another, and the evidence is clear here. The violent werewolf scenes are pretty good, although Naschy looks slightly comedic he is still excellent value for money. The only problem would be the poor quality of the makeup, which admittedly looks rather bad. The evil witch is intimidating and evokes Barbara Steele in her black robes and veil. Add to that the subplot of vampirism and you have a film well worth watching.
The locations are nice, the atmosphere is brilliant, the acting, although affected by dubbing, is nonetheless more than adequate with Naschy particularly excelling himself in his role. Never since the days Lon Chaney Jr. played Lawrence Talbot have we had such a well-portrayed and charismatic character consumed by his werewolf hunger and forced to kill in a series of films. Naschy certainly knows his stuff and he makes for a very memorable leading hero in his leather jacket. There are a couple of surprisingly touching romantic interludes between Naschy and Fuchs, achieved via a bit of tinkling piano music. The rest of the female cast is either required to strip or look spooky! Another guy, a policeman, looks like the spitting image of Gregory Peck.
Okay, the film itself is not particularly well made, down to the lack of budget more than anything else, but there are some nice bits of editing (the repeat flashes from Naschy to the full moon and back again are rather good) and it could have been a lot worse. The only problem comes when one piece of footage is accidentally repeated twice, making things truly weird. Watch out for an excellent scene where a girl is attacked by a decayed monk in the ruined castle. Could this be one of the undead Templars from TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD making a guest appearance? It sure looks like it! The film has all you could ever want from a horror film: violence, gore, action, suspense, atmosphere, romance, and characters you feel for. The only hurdle would be the obvious cultural barrier and the fact that you have to ignore that it's poorly dubbed. If you can get over that, this is an excellent slice of horror from a much-maligned age. This film has certainly led to a desire within me (not unlike the craving of a bloodthirsty vampire) to see more of Naschy's yarns, and on recent second viewing it was just as good again.
The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman
The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman
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Elvira is travelling through the French countryside with her friend Genevieve, searching for the lost tomb of a medieval murderess and possible vampire, Countess Wandessa. They find a likely site in the castle of Waldemar Daninsky, who invites the women to stay as long as they like. As Waldemar shows Elvira the tomb that supposedly houses the countess, she accidentally causes the vampire to come back to life, hungrier than ever. Daninsky has a hidden secret of his own, but will it be enough to save the two girls from becoming Wandessa's next victims?
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
November 09, 2022 at 02:51 PM