Monday 21 June 2010

Werewolf VS Samurai

The Beast and the Magic Sword
1983 Spain Directed by Jacinto Molina
Camden Collection DVD Region 0

Written and directed by Paul Naschy himself (under his real name), The Beast and the Magic Sword is the 10th of the 12 movies made between 1968 and 2004 starring Naschy as everyone’s favourite Spanish werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. And this ones a real humdinger.

I’m getting a little bit more relaxed as I get older about the total lack of continuity from movie to movie in this cycle. The only constant seems to be that Paul Naschy plays Waldemar Daninsky the werewolf. Whether he is roaming around early 70s London chasing after Doctor Jekyll or whether he’s living in another century altogether (such as the 17th century where most of this film takes place)... he’s still playing Waldemar Daninsky the werewolf.

Whether he got killed in the last film for good or not, he’s still wandering around at the start of the next one playing... Waldemar Daninsky the werewolf.

Whether he got bitten by another werewolf, got cursed by a witch or some other strange cause is explored as to the origin of his character’s malediction which completely contradicts another film in the series... he is still bloody playing that Polish wolfman he’s so famous for... Waldemar Daninsky... the werewolf.

After having seen half of this series now (and it was not an easy task to find these damn prints) I’ve really begun to mellow towards the fact that you just have to watch Spanish werewolf films on a movie to movie basis and not worry too much about connecting the dots... and this is one of the better ones in the series!

In this one, every seventh generation child in the Daninsky’s bloodline is cursed with lycanthropy by a vengeful demon worshipper. Year’s later, in the seventeenth century, the cursed one in the family line is... yeah, you’re way ahead of me now aren’t you?... Waldemar Daninsky the... right, okay, whatever. Anyway, fleeing the Spanish Inquisition with the blind daughter of his doctor and his... well it’s probably his wife but it’s not made clear, he goes to ancient Japan to seek out a katana slinging doctor who fights off both samurai and ninja to keep our blood swilling and, quite literally, bodice ripping wolfman from killing him before he can concoct a cure. Yes folks, this movie has a werewolf, samurais, ninjas, thick blood dribbling down Naschy’s furred up features and women having the tops of their dresses constantly torn off... what else does a film really need?

Along the way, Daninsky and his companions have to fight off a demon lady who possesses a silver katana with which she could kill Daninsky... except, after seeing him fight a tiger (and it’s a real tiger folks) she decides she wants to use him instead for her own demonic ends. Needless to say, after she kills the blind daughter, Daninsky gores her up and escapes with his “wife”... who then gets speared to death.

The samurai doctor geezah, meanwhile, has tried to perfect a cure from rare Tibetan flowers and, bearing in mind that former strong-man Naschy must have been a big fan of the old classic Universal horror movies of the 30s and 40s, I think this must be a well appreciated nod to the Tibetan Marifasa Lupina plant which was a short term cure for lycanthropy in Universal's first stab at a werewolf movie in 1935, Werewolf of London. Nice one Jacinto!

In the end however, the doctor's cure proves useless and has to get Naschy’s new lover (because only a wolfman’s true love can fully kill a wolfman... I believe that must be a reference to Lon Chaney Jr’s second wolfman movie, Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman) to kill him with the demon lady’s handy silver sword.

Which she does...

Thus leaving the series open for another sequel to totally ignore the ending of this film.

Great stuff.

And who cares anyway... blood and wolfman and samurais and ninjas and gratuitous bodice ripping! What’s to think about here?

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