Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968)
Directed by Enrique Eguiluz
Starring Paul Naschy, Manuel Manzaneque, Dianik Zurakowska, Julian Ugarte, Rosanna Yanni, Aurora de Alba, Carlos Casaravilla, Julian Ugarte, Jose Nieto
Full disclaimer: Being a huge Naschy fan, my review here could be just a little jaded…just a bit, so I want you to understand that right from the beginning. Sure, it might be a little difficult to be unbiased, but that is just the way it is. Fans of this site should know by now of my deep admiration for Mr. Naschy (aka Jacinto Molina), his love and passion for the horror genre, and his work that still lives on years after his passing. If you are one of those that have never seen, or God forbid, never heard of, one of this films, then you need to pay even more attention!
If you are a fan of the old classic Universal monster rallies, as well as the gothic films from Hammer Studios, then it will be very easy for you to become hooked on Naschy’s first outing as his long running hombre lobo character, Waldemar Daninsky. The plot is very similar to those of yesteryear, where we have werewolves and vampires fighting with and against each other, in some vicious and ferocious battles. Add all of that in an incredible gothic castle locations, with dungeons galore, and what more could you need?
What was that? I said werewolves and vampires, but I didn’t mention Frankenstein or his creation? That is correct. If you are completely new to Naschy and/or this title, then let me explain. If you know this story, then feel free to skip to the next paragraph. Back in the early ’70s, Sam Sherman of Independent International, picked up the rights for the American release of this picture, originally titled La Marca del Hombre Lobo, or The Mark of the Wolfman. The reason was because they had pre-sold a Frankenstein picture to some exhibitors, but it just so happened that it wasn’t ready just yet. So they needed a Frankenstein picture and needed one fast. So Sherman, being the promotional genius that he is, picks up this Naschy flick, adds in an animated intro narration giving us the history of the “Wolfstein” creature, then changing the title to Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror and unleashed upon the drive-ins! Sure, might have been a little deceptive, but hell, what do we care…it got Naschy over here in the states!
The film starts off with Daninsky seemingly not being the nicest guy, as he tries to put the moves on a the young countess, who is already seeing another man. As it turns out, the countess falls deeply in love with Daninsky anyway. But he soon shows his true colors when he saves the life of the old boyfriend, in turn getting attacked and bitten by a werewolf, and so starts the curse. In trying to help finding a cure, they contact a strange doctor who says he can help. But this doctor and his companion aren’t what they seem to be.
This was Paul Naschy’s first entry in his long history of horror films, as well as the continuing exploits of Waldemar Daninsky, the cursed hombre lobo. He loved a good old fashion monster movies, being inspired as a child by Universal’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, which you can see these inspirations throughout his career. With this film, not only do we have a great monster romp with two vampires and two werewolves, but we get to see that Naschy really shows off the empathy for this character, as someone who knows he will kill when the moon is full, but knowing, and dreading the fact, that there is nothing he can do to stop it.
While this might not be the best of Naschy’s werewolf work, or his work in general, it still is a great place to start, or just a fun film in general. It has everything a monster fan would want, and more. Naschy’s always gave his all when it came to his Daninsky character. He is my favorite out of all the movie werewolves because he gives such a physical performance, showing the pain and terror that he goes through with each transformation, as well as being one agile beastie, jumping and tearing around the countryside on the nights of the full moon. Truly a memorable performance, each and every time.
Another great thing about Naschy’s werewolf films is that really don’t follow any continuing storyline. So it doesn’t matter if this is your first of his flicks or 5th or 6th, they all play on their own.
Released on DVD by Shriek Show in 2005, this might not make the completist too happy since this is not the original uncut version, but FBT release, though the scenes that were cut are on the disc as an extra. While normally I would be 100% in agreement that the uncut version should be released, since this was the first version of the film that I saw, plus the fact that as cheesy as the animated Wolf-Stein intro is, I actually kind of like it and even prefer it. It reminds me of that period of decades gone by, with good old fashion movie huckers, cheap promotions, and those tricks to get you to come see the shows. So it doesn’t bother me to have this part of this presentation. Sure, it would have been great to have both versions of the film on a release, but for what they did, I can’t really complain. I mean, as much as you might want to bitch about Sherman cutting the picture and doing what he did, we have to give him credit for bringing this film to the states, which might not have happened otherwise.
Now all that aside, the disc comes with some nice extras. First up in a great interview with Paul Naschy, that runs close to 30 minutes, where he talks about the film, its origins, and his fondness of the genre. There is also a couple of trailers, deleted scenes, and poster gallery. The film is also presented in a wonderful 2.35:1 format. The film quality does look pretty good. Not great, but good enough for anyone to really enjoy the movie. One of the things I love about this film is simply the look of it. With the widescreen shots, you have these wonderful landscapes with the fog, the castle, and of course the werewolves. It’s a shame that more horror movies can’t be filmed in settings where Naschy did a lot of his films since they always added to the feel and look of the film.
The disc also comes with audio commentary by Sam Sherman. As he did with the Blood Island movies, he gives a very informative talk over the movie. The only complaint would be that his discussion is not about the movie itself that much as it is about his and Independent International’s connection to the film and getting its release over here in the states. He also goes into great detail about their attempt to get it re-released in a 3-D format, which failed miserably. Sherman mentions that he’d love to try and do that again today and take it on the road. If this was to ever happen, I know that I would make damn sure I would be there to see it. So while you won’t hear that much detail about Naschy or the film (other than how it went from La Marca del Hombre Lobo to Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror), Sherman does give us some more great stories of distributing films back in the early 70’s.
This really is a must for horror fans. And I’m not saying that just because of my devotion to this man’s work, but because I really do think he turned out some high quality monster entertainment for his fans. Give this one a try and see if you don’t agree.