Night of the Werewolf

10/11/2019 06:34

Film: Night of the Werewolf (El retorno del Hombre Lobo)

Year: 1981

Director: Paul Naschy

Writer: Paul Naschy

Starring: Paul Naschy, Julia Saly and Silvia Aguilar



This was a film that I never heard of, but I know about Paul Naschy, who wrote and directed this under a pseudonym as well as starring in the film under his real name. This film came up under a different title from an encyclopedia that I’m working through. Other than that, I came in pretty blind here. The synopsis is an evil witch brings back to life the infamous Elizabeth Bathory (Julia Saly), who was executed several hundred years previously for murdering young woman and bathing in their blood.

We start this at a castle in Hungary. It is there that we see the Countess Elizabeth Bathory on trial along with all of her associates for witchcraft. Among them is Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy), who can supposedly become a werewolf. All of them are executed with a silver cross stabbed into Waldemar’s heart.

It then shifts to the present of when this film was made. We see a couple of girls in Rome as they’re hanging out with some guys. One of them is Karen (Azucena Hernández) and the other is Barbara (Pilar Alcón). Through their conversations we learn that they are going to Hungary soon as they’re archeologists. They focus on the occult from what we gather as well.

From here we meet Erika (Silvia Aguilar) who is at the home of a former professor. She tells her about the information she has gathered, thinking that they found the tomb of Waldemar and Countess Bathory. He is excited and wants to know more. This turns dark though when he learns about what her true intentions are.

During this, we see a couple of grave robbers, Ricardo Palacios and Rafael Hernández. Rafael doesn’t want to be here, while Ricardo goads him on. They go into the crypt and discover they’ve found the grave of Waldemar. They open it and remove the silver cross that is stabbed into his chest. The problem is that he wakes up and attacks them. There is a specific way to kill him, which involves the weapon that was holding him at bay, but he needs to be stabbed by someone who truly loves him. When the moon is full, he becomes a werewolf and attacks those in his way.

Erika and her two friends arrive and soon learn this is a dangerous area. They are saved by Waldemar. Karen takes a liking to him and Barbara wonders who he is. Erika knows, but Barbara can’t believe it. What Erika is there will turn this trip into a nightmare as well.

Now I wanted to go a little bit vague in my recap, but I think if you probably have an idea of where this is going. I don’t really think this is a film that is ruined by knowing that information if I’m going to be perfectly honest. There’s not a whole lot of depth to these types of films, but I also think they were intended them that way. I wasn’t overly high on the first film from Naschy I saw, but this one did click more for me.

I should point out that I love that this film has Countess Bathory in it. She is a figure that I didn’t know a lot about until I really started getting into more obscure horror films and I have to say, she draws a lot of my interest. This one doesn’t really have her as a vampire in life. She is a witch though and is performing her craft is how Waldemar became a werewolf. I dug this idea for sure. There is a slight issue for me though with her later in the movie and what she has become.

Going from my last point, I do feel that this film they kind of just decided to throw as much into it as they can. We get vampires, a werewolf, a witch and even what I assume is a kind of zombie. Somehow for me though it works. It doesn’t go into the deepest explanation outside of it just being witchcraft which I could actually buy here.

A more legit issue I had here though is with this and the other Naschy film is that they slide in the romance. It becomes part of the way that Waldemar’s soul can be freed, which is fine, but then we get Karen and him falling for each other. It becomes problematic, because I feel there is a slight editing issue. We never really learn how long these people are at the castle. I took that there are there for a couple months, which gives a legit timeline. I just don’t know if that is the case for sure.

I don’t want you to think I had a complete problem with the pacing though. I do think that the film does lose its way a bit, but I never got bored. It does build tension, especially when things start to happen around them. There actually is something that happens later in the movie as well that really ramps it up for me and made it where things have to happen that night or people will be lost forever. The ending works for me for what they were building to. We also get a decent amount of sleaze, which I don’t mind every now and then.

That will take me to the acting of this one. Naschy was great in this role. He plays it stoic, but I think that is him hiding the trouble and cursed soul that he has. He also seems like a man that I could buy Karen falling for. I thought Saly was solid as the Countess. She plays the role with some malice behind it and I liked it. Erika was pretty good in her role. She has an early reveal I wasn’t expecting, but it really is a catalyst to everything that happened. Hernández and Alcón are both fine. We do get to see a good amount of the women in this film, which I’ll never complain about. I also think that for the most part, everyone is a bit wooden, but rounded out the film for what was needed.

Next I’ll shift to this to the effects. Being that this is from the early 80’s and being foreign, they went practical here which I thought looked good. The transformation scene isn’t as good as films like An American Werewolf in London or The Howling, but I like that they did it with time lapsing the footage. The blood and gore we do get was solid. I would also say that this film is shot well also.

The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. When the opening credits hit, the song that was used there and for the closing credits took me off guard as I don’t feel it necessary fit for this type of movie. It’s not that I hated it though. I actually dug it if I’m honest. The rest of the selections that stood out fit for what the film was going for and did help to raise the tension as well.

Now with that said, this isn’t a great film, but it is one that I had a lot of fun with. I really like using the character of Countess Bathory and the witchcraft that she performed to create the monsters that appear here. They incorporate quite a bit there that I can get down with. There are some slight issues, like the needing of the romance we get here as well as the film does struggle to establish an idea of the timeframe. This hinders the pacing a bit, while it does still build tension. Naschy was good and Saly was solid, but the rest of the acting was a bit wooden. The effects though were really good and the soundtrack did help to build tension for the most part. We also get a bit of sleaze here, which I need every now and then. This won’t be for everyone and I watched it in Spanish with subtitles on. If that’s not an issue and you want to see a fun monster film, give this one a viewing.


My Rating: 8 out of 10