Exploring : Paul Naschy and El Hombre Lobo

Born during the Spanish Civil War as Jacinto Molina Alvarez, the man who would one day be known as Paul Naschy didn’t write his first werewolf film — much less plan on starring in it — until he was 34 years old. He had plans of being an architect but moved between acting, writing and professional weightlifting.

However, he wrote The Mark of the Wolfman, a script about Polish werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky and talked Maxper Producciones Cinematograficas into financing the film. Naschy wasn’t going to be in the movie, but when the producers failed to find the right actor for the part — and the 62-years-old Lon Chaney Jr. said he was too ill to travel for the movie — Alvarez became Naschy, named after Pope Paul VI and Imre Nagy, one of his weightlifting heroes.

By 1972, Naschy wrote and starred in seven horror films and was working with the biggest directors in European horror, such as León Klimovsky (his favorite director), Carlos Aured, Javier Aguirre, José Luis Madrid, Juan Piquer Simón, Francisco Lara Polop and José Luis Merino.

Eclipsing even Chaney Sr., Naschy is the only actor to play Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, Fu Manchu, the Hunchback, Rasputin, a warlock, a zombie, a medieval Inquisitor, a serial killer and — sixteen times — a werewolf, mostly the aforementioned Daninsky.

Counting La Casa del Terror and an appearance on Route 66, Lon Chaney Jr. only played a werewolf seven times. Naschy played El Hombre Lobo twelve times, as well as two unconnected werewolves. Let’s dive in and explore the furry magic, film fans!

Also — if you read through these and wonder why they don’t seem connected at all — you are starting to understand the awesomeness of these films. Even if they had all come out in America, they would have all been released out of order and perhaps been even more confusing.

The Mark of the Wolfman (1968): This is where it all starts. Whether you see it under its original title or as Hell’s Creatures: Dracula and the Werewolf, The Nights of Satan or Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror — the version I saw — this is an astounding 3D blast of weirdness. Count Waldemar Daninsky is attacked by a female werewolf and asks for help from two doctors, who end up being vampires and resurrecting that female werewolf all over again for a final battle. Blame Sam Sherman for this movie’s American title, which was needed to pad a double bill with Al Adamson’s Dracula vs. Frankenstein.

Las Noches del Hombre Lobo (1968):  This lost movie hasn’t even been seen by Naschy, who claimed that he went to Paris for a week to shoot the movie for Rene Govar, who apparently only directed this one film). Govar was said to have died in a car accident in Paris a week after the filming was completed and the film was thrown away from the lab when it was not paid. Some Naschy scholars believe that the movie was actually canceled and the script used to make the fourth Daninsky movie, La Furia del Hombre Lobo.

Assignment Terror (1970): This is another multi-named Naschy effort, boasting titles like The Monsters of Terror, Dracula vs FrankensteinDracula and the Wolf Man vs. Frankenstein, Operation Terror and Reincarnator. An alien scientist — played by The Day The Earth Stood Still star Michael Rennie — is trying to destroy humans so his alien race can move in. How would he do that? By using vampires, werewolves and mummies, that’s how!

The Fury of the Wolfman (1970): After multiple Daninsky movies, now his origin changes. He has now become a werewolf thanks to a yeti bite and dies after killing his cheating wife and the man who cuckolded him. Then, a mad scientist brings him back to kill even more, as well as his now furry ex-wife. There’s also a Swedish movie of this with longer sex scenes called Wolfman Never Sleeps.

Art by Zornow Must Be Destroyed. Check out his site at https://zmbd.storenvy.com/

The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman (1971): Naschy’s most successful movie is also known as The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman, Shadow of the Werewolf, Night of the VampireNight of the Bloody Witches, The Black Mass of Countess Dracula, Werewolf’s Shadow, Fury of the Vampires and Night of the Werewolves, this one finds El Hombre Lobo revived when doctors remove the silver bullets from his heart. He later bleeds on the corpse of Countess Wandessa de Nadasdy, who ends up becoming his nemesis. Some Naschy fans like to think of this as a direct sequel to The Mark of the Wolfman. This was directed by León Klimovsky.

Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf (1971): Naschy was inspired by the Universal monsters and the way they would crossover into one another’s films. That’s why in this Klimovsky-directed installment, El Hombre Lobo attempts to be cured by the grandson of Dr. Jekyll, who may have some sinister plans.

The Return of Walpurgis (1973): How many names can one movie have? How about seven? In addition to the Walpurgis title, this is also called Curse of the DevilNight of the Fiendish Orgy, Death Grip of the Cruel Wolves, Night of the Killer, The Mark of Dracula and Return of the Werewolf. This starts off with a Daninsky relative killing a witch and moves forward to the modern day Daninsky being bitten by a wolf skull after being seduced by a gypsy girl!

Curse of the Beast (1975): I saw this under the title The Werewolf and the Yeti, but you may know it as Night of the Howling Beast or Hall of the Mountain King. You’d think that another yeti would transform our hero into El Hombre Lobo, but Naschy is cunning and somehow creates a story not only one, but two vampire women, bite him and turn him into the werewolf. Well done.

Return of the Wolf Man (1980): Basically a remake of Walpurgis Night, this was released in the U.S. as The Craving. Naschy has gone on record saying that this was his favorite Hombre Lobo film and it was also the last one to play the U.S. In this one, he battles Elizabeth Bathory.

The Beast and the Magic Sword (1983): This movie is absolutely, positively, magically insane. Imagine — and then see that it’s true — Naschy making a period Japanese feudal movie mixed with werewolves. Sometimes when I’m sad, I think how lucky I am to live in a world that made this film.

Licantropo: the Full Moon Killer (1996): Yeah, there was no American release. And yeah, the budget sucks. But even a bad Naschy movie is better than 98% of any other werewolf movie you’ve ever seen. Daninsky versus a serial killer? Sure, I’ll watch that.

Tomb of the Werewolf (2004): A relative of Daninsky inherits his castle and as soon as he gets there, Elizabeth Bathory (Michelle Bauer!) gets him to pull the silver dagger from El Hombre Lobo’s corpse! Oh man — directed by Fred Olen Ray and shot by Gary Graver, it would be the last Daninsky movie made.

There are also some other films where Naschy played a werewolf, including the child film Good Night, Mr. Monster; the monster-filled comedy It Smells Like Death Here (Well, It Wasn’t Me) and A Werewolf in The Amazon.

Howl of the Devil (1987): A movie where Naschy plays just about every monster ever wouldn’t be complete without a brief cameo by our friend Waldemar. Also, Caroline Munro is in this, which should be enough to get you tracking it down.

As you may already have realized, we love Paul Naschy. We’ve also watched him in Horror Rises from the Tomb, Panic Beats, and The People Who Own the DarkThe Killer Is One of 13Blue Eyes of the Broken DollSeven Murders for Scotland Yard, The Devil’s Possessed and Count Dracula’s Great Love.

They’re all awesome. But not as awesome as werewolves fighting yetis.

Looking to own these films? We can help. Click the links and get something awesome for yourself.

Night of the Werewolf (the 1980 Return of the Wolfman) is on Shout! Factory’s The Paul Naschy Collection and The Werewolf and the Yeti is on their second volume.

Ronin Flix has Assignment Terror and Fury of the Wolfman.

Mondo Macabro has The Beast and the Magic Sword.

For even more Naschy — and everything else awesome in strange films — turn to Diabolik DVD.

If you want to see every werewolf movie we’re watched so far, check out this Letterboxd list!

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