Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968)

Paul Naschy’s real name was Jacinto Molina, but when German film distributors demanded he have a name that sounded like something native to their country, he took the name Paul from Pope Paul IV and Naschy from a Hungarian athlete.

Naschy had been inspired to make a horror movie since working on the movie Agonizing In Crime a year earlier. Despite several filmmakers trying to dissuade him from making such a film, he persevered and this film would become the first in a long line of werewolf films that would make Naschy famous all over the world.

Originally known as La Marca del Hombre Lobo (The Mark of the Wolfman), this movie is also known as Hell’s Creatures: Dracula and the Werewolf, The Nights of Satan and as the title I saw it run as at the Drive-In Super Monster Rama, Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror. But wait…isn’t this a werewolf movie? Read on, friends. Read on.

The film’s American distributor, Independent-International Pictures, had a big problem on their hands. While they also distributed films like All the Colors of the Dark (renamed They’re Coming to Get You! in an attempt to get audiences to think it had something to do with Night of the Living Dead), Satan’s SadistsBlue Eyes of the Broken Doll and others, now they needed a second Frankenstein movie and they needed it in a hurry.

That’s because producer Sam Sherman already had 400 theaters lined up for the Al Adamson film Dracula vs. Frankenstein and had promised those grindhouses and drive-ins a Frank-centric double feature.

That’s why this movie begins with an animated opening sequence that explains that the cursed Frankenstein family has had all manner of issues in their history, but this film will discuss one branch of the family tree that has been cursed with lycanthropy and changed their surname to Wolfstein.

La Marca del Hombre Lobo was originally filmed in Jan Jacobsen’s Hi-Fi Stereo 70 3-D format. This led Sherman to hire Linwood Dunn to craft what were reportedly gorgeous 35mm prints that needed to be projected through high-end lenses. The producer even set up a star-studded Hollywood premiere that went to pieces when inferior acrylic lenses were used to show the film. This story feels apocryphal, as I can’t see A-listers showing up to celebrate a Paul Naschy movie. But man — if it did happen, how amazing is life?

The hijinks begin when a gypsy couple gets trashed and spends the night in the Wolfstein castle. Their shenanigans lead to the silver cross being removed from the body of Imre Wolfstein, who rises from the dead to kill them and go wild in a nearby village (by going wild, he attacks a few people).

When a hunting party goes to stop what they believe are wolf attacks, Count Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy) is attacked and receives the titular mark of the werewolf. Prayer and friendship aren’t enough to stop his curse, so he turns to two experts, Dr. Janos and Wandessa de Mikhelov.

They turn out to be Satanic vampires and revive Imre, then hold Waldemar’s lover Janice and best friend Rudolph in thrall. They seem to be more swingers than vampires, mutually supporting one another’s open marriage and need to dominate more docile partners. I’m kidding — they’re totally vampires. But really, come on. They’re swingers.

At the end, the two werewolves battle, with Waldemar winning, leading to him killing the vampires and being shot by a silver bullet fired by Janice. It really doesn’t pay to be a werewolf, you know?

Naschy would follow this film with 1968’s film Las Noches del Hombre Lobo. That movie is even stranger than this one because even today, no one is sure that it even exists. Wait…what?

It’s true. Even though many refer to it as the second of Naschy’s twelve Waldemar Daninsky movies, no one has ever seen this movie. Not even Naschy himself, although he claims that his script was filmed in Paris by director Rene Govar — who has no other known credits. Govar died in a career accident a week after the film was sent to the lab, where it was never paid for and destroyed. Naschy also claimed that he worked with actors Peter Beaumont and Monique Brainville, but no one knows if they existed either.

Supposedly, the film was about a professor who learns that one of his students suffers from lycanthropy, so he uses that student as a method of revenge on his enemies. That also sounds a lot like a later Naschy film, 1970’s La Furia del Hombre Lobo (The Fury of the Wolfman).

Most Naschy experts feel like he brought up this film early in his career to pad his resume and make it seem like he was working in foreign markets so that he could appear to be a bigger actor than he was. Nevertheless, it’s a strange footnote in his career.

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