Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy starred in a dozen werewolf flicks as lycanthropy-stricken Waldemar Daninsky. What’s most amazing about this film series is not that there were a dozen entries, but that they are all unrelated in regards to plot. They are all standalone films, even though the protagonist and tragic hero has the same name in each and is played by the same man. Strange things happen in the world of low-budget filmmaking.
From 1972, Fury of the Wolfman features a screenplay from the aforementioned Naschy, and he also stars as the aforementioned Daninsky. José María Zabalza handled the directing duties.
In this flick, Daninsky is a college professor recently returned from a tragic expedition to the Himalayas. There, the expedition was attacked by a Yeti and Daninsky was the only survivor. But, he is now a wolfman. Using a Yeti as the origin of a werewolf is an idea out of left field, but Naschy and company liked it so much they used it for at least one other film in the series.
Whenever the moon is full, Daninsky turns into the wolfman and kills some people. Unfortunately for his wife (Pilar Zorilla) and her lover, Daninsky makes them early victims. As Daninsky flees the scene, he is electrocuted to death by a downed power line. But, it’s all part of a plan.
One of Daninsky’s colleagues at the university, Dr. Ilona Ellman (Perla Cristal), has been conducting unauthorized and unethical medical experiments on human subjects. She bombards their brains with waves and stuff in an attempt to control them. She learns of Daninsky’s little problem and decides a wolfman would be perfect for her experiments. She also knows that nothing but silver through the heart can kill a werewolf, so she has Daninsky’s body dug up, she hits his brain with the rays, and a killing machine is resurrected and released.
That’s about as much sense as I can make of the plot. That’s owing to the fact the cut I saw of this flick was one put together by AVCO Embassy Television for late-night picture shows, and they really mauled it to death. The first thing they did was cut the nudity, then took their knives to the rest of the flick to move some stuff around. What’s even worse is that, according to the internet (so it must be true), Zabalza was unreliable, necessitating a lot of reused footage from earlier Naschy werewolf flicks. The result is a jumbled mess of a movie that does have a plot, but only two scenes in every five seem to deal with that plot. Despite this, the film is strangely watchable.
It takes place in contemporary times, but I have yet to see a Spanish horror flick from the era that wasn’t somewhat medieval. I am a fan of gothic horror flicks, and this film has all the trappings of one, from the werewolf aspects, but also a very liberal dose of Mary Shelley. Dr. Ellman is a classic mad scientist, focused on her discoveries no matter their perceived immorality or heresy.
Perhaps, also, the slapdash nature of the plot contributes to, rather than hurts, the film’s watchability. There are countless dull and plodding films out there that are akin to Fury of the Wolfman. This one, though, tricks a viewer, through its complex web of plot and subplot, into paying attention to it all. It’s kind of like the way a soap opera can worm its way into one’s brain after a couple weeks of unemployment. It leaves one just as squeamish about enjoying it.
Regular readers might be surprised about where this flick ends up falling into the Watchability Index, but it’s my list and I can do what I want. Fury of the Wolfman makes it into the hallowed top half of the index, where I swear each and every movie is at least watchable, displacing The Humanity Bureau at #150.