Friday, 10 September 2010

Like a Werewolf Scorned

Fury of the Wolfman
(aka La Furia del Hombre Lobo
aka The Wolfman Never Sleeps)
Shot in 1970 but released in 1972 Spain
Directed by José María Zabalza
The Camden Collection DVD Region 0

Fury of the Wolfman is the fourth (or third if you discount legends of the “lost film”) in the cycle of Paul Naschy’s 12 movies about the Waldemar Daninsky character made between 1968 and 2004.

I would also have to say, it’s certainly the worst of the seven Naschy movies that I’ve seen to feature the titular wolfman/Daninsky character. And it’s really a shame too because the movie started off extraordinarily well... for a Daninsky movie.

Unlike most of the other movies I’ve seen in this “loose series”, the film opens with some really good cinematography (reminiscent perhaps of the gialli that were being made in Italy at the time) with excellent use of contrasting colours and some quite unexpectedly competent sound design which gives the earlier sections of the film a nice, genuinely haunted atmosphere. In these start up sequences we are given yet another “origin"... this time around Waldemar has recently been bitten by a yeti during his scientific research visit in Tibet, although I believe this has nothing to do with the later entry into the series - The Werewolf and the Yeti (aka Night of the Howling Beast). Now I’m getting quite used, as I said in an earlier Daninsky review a month or so ago, to Naschy’s recurring character having a new and completely different origin to his lycanthropic curse in each movie... just as I am getting used to him being killed for good at the end of each picture, only to return in the next film in the series without any fanfare or continuity from the last picture.

That being said... Why was Daninsky on a scientific expedition in Tibet in the first place? You guessed it... because in this film he’s a scientist. What? So Waldemar Daninsky is a scientist now? Okay. And everyone is calling him Professor Daninsky? Okay, I can live with that. Paul Naschy is not the best actor in the world but compared to the lame theatrics displayed by most of the rest of the cast in these films... well... if they say he’s a scientist then he’s a scientist. He doesn’t possess a pipe though so I’m not 100% sure I can buy into that idea completely.

The soundtrack of the film uses a lot of audio flashbacks of conversations with words like pentagram repeated almost endlessly in a not bad trick which works quite well at the beginning of the movie to help create a certain sense of impending dread. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a cheesy and cliched way of handling things but it’s actually quite sophisticated and reined in compared to what I'd usually expect from these kinds of movies. But like I said earlier, it doesn’t take long for this film to take a detour into being an absolute mess of celluloid.

Here’s what I could make out of the plot in a nutshell (and if I had a nutshell I’d stick it in there and give it to a squirrel to horde somewhere far from me!)...

After being bitten by said yeti, Daninsky returns to Spain to continue his scientific research job with a fellow scientist, a woman with whom he has had a passionate three year fling in the past, prior to his marriage to another woman. Now I know this other woman is definitely a scientist because she keeps using terms like “chemitrodes”... rather a lot actually. I don’t know what a chemitrode is exactly but this lady loves them.

Anyway, Daninsky finds his wife having an affair with another man, but they’ve “fixed” the brakes on his car and he crashes it into a tree. He survives the crash and returns home to find his wife and her lover... the full moon has it’s usual effect on him and he kills them... or “wolfs them up good” as I like to say. During his hairy frenzy, he manages to electrocute himself to death. His ex-lady friend colleague takes his body away to her scientific retreat which seems to be a castle of some sort... easily affordable as a second home if you’re a scientist and dealing with unwieldy and worrying things like chemitrodes in your workplace, apparently.

She revives Waldemar with her chemitrodal meddling in her attempt to alter his mind... a term called “human zebra” here... but whatever it’s called, the plot is just not going to stay black & white for long. While she goes away for some supplies for her dastardly experiments (presumably Chemitrodes R Us is open 24/7), Waldemar rekindles love with a young scientific assistant whom he is trapped in the castle with... along with some drug crazed mutant hippies who sometimes seem to be their friends and sometimes attack them. In fact... by this point I’ve got no idea what’s going on anymore... other than the fact that Waldemar finds the affair his wife was having was caused by mad scientist lady altering his wife’s and her lover’s hypothalmus with... oh, you know what with by now. Those chemitrodes have a lot to answer for... it was all a plot to kill Waldemar so she could revive him and control him.

But seriously, by now the editing has got the better of this film... Why is Walfdemar’s girlfriend attacked by someone hiding in a suit of armour? Why is there a masked figure stalking the castle? Why are the hippie people friendly, then hostile, then friendly again, then hostile... honestly, by this point it’s like somebody has got all the footage cut in little strips, thrown it into the air, and re-edited into a sequence that makes no sense from shot to shot. I truly believe that the director, who was apparently disliked by Naschy and apparently spent a lot of the time drunk, just didn’t get the footage required to be able to edit this mess into a coherent, decodable narrative. More’s the pity since it had such a promising opening (been a while since I saw a promising opening but since I’m not writing a porn blog I’ll refrain from going down that avenue, gentle reader).

All I know for sure is that the scorned scientist revives Waldemar’s dead wife who is now infected with the lycnthropy passed on for her husband and you get to see two werewolves fight before Waldemar gets killed... again... and finds his final peace... which will be shattered when he revives for the next film in the series.

Fury of the Wolfman is, frankly, a terrible movie and, unlike most others in this wonderful series of bizarre Spanish werewolf movies, not much fun either. My favourite of the seven I’ve seen so far is still Doctor Jekyll and The Wolfman from 1971... love those swinging London locations which I remember as such from my childhood. If you want to see a fun Waldemar Daninsky movie... watch that one and let this horrible, ravaged carcass of a movie rest in pieces.


  1. With added scenes from the original Daninsky to pad out a few scenes, shame!

  2. Yeah, I remember you saying this at the time. I did catch one of those scenes which I suspected was from "Frankenstein's Bloody Terror" or whatever the first one is called this week. I suspect only two thirds of this film actually got made and the fact that it didn't get any kind of release until after Doctor Jekyll Versus The Wolfman makes me suspect that this was assembled for release purely to cash in on that entry in the series.

  3. I agree with your above view, shame really