I normally don’t like to celebrate or make note of the passing of a celebrity because it should be about remembering them and their work, not when they left us. But back in November of 2009, we lost one of the last great horror movie icons: Jacinto Molina, better known as Paul Naschy. People who know me or regulars to this site know of my passion for Naschy’s work, so that loss really hit. He really is one of my horror heroes, and truly is an icon, one that I would put right up there with names like Karloff, Lugosi, Cushing, Price, and Lee. With close to 50 years worth of work in cinema, as a writer, actor, director, he created so many memorable characters, from monsters, villains, heroes, and so much more.
Thankfully, we are still able to watch and appreciate a lot of his films today, some looking better than they ever have! We have a ton of Blu-rays that continuing to be released, to model kits, action figures, and amazing T-shirt designs (that you can find HERE thanks to artist Geraldo Moreno). So I know his legacy is alive and well and is only going to grow with each new generation discovering his work.
To honor this great man and his work, I reached out to his son, Sergio Molina, to ask him a few questions on his father’s legacy and how it was growing up with his father being the infamous Hombre Lobo!
Kitley’s Krypt: How was it growing up in the cinematic world of your father? How much of his passion did he share with you as a child?
Sergio Molina: We lived it as something normal. At home, we were aware that my father was a special person. He did not have an average job. He wasn’t a lawyer, a doctor, or an office clerk. He was making movies and not only that but they were horror movies. But for us, that something normal. Our house was full of weightlifting and power lifting trophies, so for me especially, my father was some kind of superman that could save me from whatever complicated situation. His life was cinema and sports. He was very passionate about everything he did and it transmitted to his sons and family members. Everyone at home lived that passion.
KK: When did you realize the worldwide fame he had, as well as the impact he has made in the genre?
SM: We knew that he was known worldwide because we used to get letters from all over the world. My father always tried to make export-friendly pictures so it could be seen in the same manner in Madrid as well as in New York. But it is true that we started to grasp the importance of his work was when we traveled to the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors in New York, where we saw the passion that he would awake in people. That trip was very gratifying for everyone. After that came many conventions, festivals, awards, and recognition where all of my father’s work was valued.
KK: What does it mean to you hearing from fans from around the world about their love of his films or that have been inspired by your father’s work?
SM: Of course, it has been a huge honor. Besides, I find it extremely interesting that many of who write to me have a varied set of favorite movies. What that tells me is that it’s not like he only has one or two well-known titles and the rest are of little interests. To this point, fans have very different favorites that they tell me about. I take this as a positive which tells me that the majority of his films have interests and that is very complimentary in current times. And of course, I greatly appreciate all the gestures of affections towards him that I receive from an infinite number of countries. I believe he was someone very special.
KK: It has been a decade since his passing, but it seems his popularity has almost exploded. Between all the Blu-ray releases, books on him, and these recent T-shirts and artwork of him and his movies, it would seem he must be looking down with a big smile. What do you think is the cause of this rise in attention?
SM: He can finally say for sure, it was well worth it. During his final days at the hospital, he asked me if all the effort for such a difficult genre in Spanish cinema was worth it. I told him not to doubt it for one minute and today, all of these awards and recognition reinforce that I was correct. It is a cinema that is enduring. I believe that many of his films are being recognized as classics of the fantastic cinema and iconic figures (Waldemar & Alaric) are there for everyone to enjoy. I know I will keep enjoying them. The fact that many of his films continue to be re-released 40 or 50 years after their production tells me that they were special and I’m good with that.
KK: How have these recent museum exhibits been received?
SM: Very good! The Week of Terror in San Sebastián has been very receptive of his legacy and that is a great deal of pride for us.
KK: Over the last decade, have you learned or discovered anything about your father, from his fans, followers, or the people that worked with him, such as Jack Taylor or Helga Liné, that you didn’t know before?
SM: More than anything, it is the fact that I have yet to hear negative feedback from his co-workers, especially actors. As a director, he cared deeply about all actors and was very attentive to their needs. Payoff from his associates to me have been tenfold. Jack is a great friend and always had a great relationship with him. Helga is wonderful. She mentioned what a pleasure it was to work with my father and how he was ahead of his time in Spain, a country not very receptive to this genre.
KK: Speaking of which, there was a time when Spain’s attitude towards your father’s work was not appreciated. How has that changed?
SM: Well, that’s not entirely true. The public did value his at different stages of his professional career, but now more than before. There are many collections of his moves that are available on the web in Spain, where La noche de Walpurgis (aka The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman, 1972) has been seen by more than a million viewers, which for this country is a lot. La marca del Hombre Lobo (aka Mark of Wolfman or Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror, 1968) has been seen by more than 800,000 people! By this, what I mean is that his viewers really do value him. Then there are the critics that understood that in Spain he was a writer of a higher standard. From my point of view, things are changing because now he’s recognized as an icon of the Spanish fantastic cinema and that’s undisputable. If we think about the year, 1968, it was my father who began a movie with werewolves and vampires that up until then, movies were basically comedies or bordering on movies that were not of the fantastic genre. He was a pioneer in that kind of work in a complicated country.
KK: What is your favorite of your father’s work? And why?
SM: It all depends on the type of movies, but there are three that I especially like: El caminate (aka The Devil Incarnate, 1979), El huerto del Francés, and Inquisición (aka Inquisition, 1977).
From the Waldemar Daninsky series, the ones I like the most are El retorno del hombre lobo (Night of the Werewolf, 1981) and La bestia y la espada mágica (aka The Beast and the Magic Sword, 1983).
From the classic age, I like El jorobado del la morgue (aka Hunchback of the Morgue, 1973) and La noche de walpurgis (The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman, 1971).
KK: Thank you, Sergio. It was so nice to hear about your father’s work first hand.
SM: Thank you, Jon, for the support to my father’s work and image.