When I was younger, my favorite monster was the werewolf. At times I use to dream and use my imagination that I was a werewolf on the prowl, and I am sure people thought that I was crazy or had a bad case of Lycanthropy. I for one just think that my spirit animal is a wolf. I mean my family has lots of Native American blood in the tree so it’s very possible. To me, the top werewolf of film is Universal’s The Wolf Man played by Lon Chaney Jr. and for comic books, it was Jack Russell of Werewolf By Night. The older I got, the more werewolf media came into my life such with movies like An American Werewolf In London, Werewolf of London, The Howling, Curse of the Werewolf and Legend of the Werewolf, not to mention TV show Werewolf and comic series Werewolf At Large. But my brother used to always tease me about one actor who played a werewolf more times then any other actor, one that he always claimed was the best and that was Paul Naschy. At first I am sure it was just a way to annoy me, and boy did he take pleasure in finding goofy things like this to get under my skin. After watching the heavily cut version of Night of The Werewolf called The Craving that we rented on VHS from Blockbuster Video, I was not impressed with what I saw and still stood by my stance that Chaney is the best. Over the years I saw more and more of Naschy’s werewolf films and started to find respect for them and liked the idea that like Chaney who played the character of Larry Talbot who was cursed to turn into a werewolf every full moon, Naschy also played the same character in every film as he played Waldemar Daninsky in over 11 films and 1 lost film! Now that’s some heart and a passion for a character. Every film the Werewolf’s look would change; sometimes it would look great like it does in Curse of the Devil, and in other films it would look like cheap Halloween do it your self kit make up like in Fury Of The Wolfman. But even at its worst, the Daninsky werewolf has my respect. Another cool thing about this film series is that they all take place during different time periods and even have the Werewolf tangling with vampires, phantoms, space aliens and many more monsters and creatures.
Paul Naschy, whose real name is Jacinto Molina Alvarez, grew up during the Spanish Civil War and lived a comfortable life with his parents. Growing up, he tried his hand at writing pulp western novels, drawing comic books, weightlifting and acting, and acting seemed to be his perfect fit. He made his acting splash in the 1961 film “King of Kings” in a uncredited part and later was an extra on an episode of the TV show I, Spy where he got to meet horror icon Boris Karloff. It was 1968 when Naschy wrote and stared in a film called “Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror” that kicked off his long lasting Waldemar Daninsky werewolf films and also made him a horror icon in Spain as he would go on to play almost every classic horror character from Count Dracula all the way to The Mummy in a number of films that were hits at the box office. Naschy, who grew up loving the Universal Monster films like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, was making films that meant so much to the kids at the time watching them just as he had watched Universal films. Naschy became one of Spain’s most popular actors, and his films were even being seen all over Europe and the United States and became popular at the drive-in theaters at the time. This lead to him teaming with many other producers from around the world to make more of his werewolf films and other horror inspired flicks. But like all good things, Naschy’s time at the top started to come apart in 1984. After the lose of his father, he became depressed and only returned in 1987 to direct one film called “El Aullido del Diablo” that stared his son Sergio and Caroline Munro. In 1991, Naschy had a near fatal heart attack that sparked a death rumor around the horror world. Naschy himself had to get the word out that he was very much alive. In 1996, Naschy made his 11th werewolf film called “Licantropo” and this was said to be his big comeback film, but sadly the film did poor at the box office and the critics panned it. Naschy did not allow this to hold him back as he did a wave of b-movies that included the 12th Daninsky film called “Tomb Of The Werewolf” directed by American film maker Fred Olen Ray. Naschy would also tour the horror convention circuit and would be swamped with eager fans who wanted to chat with the horror icon. While he was not well off with money and he hated the way Spain’s film industry was going, he was touched by how well his loyal fan based loved him. Sadly in 2009 the world lost a horror icon when Naschy passed away from pancreatic cancer. While he might be gone, the man’s legend lives on with his films. Naschy is truly missed, and I would have loved to gotten the chance to meet him at least once in my life. Rest in peace, Naschy.
Really quickly, I want to touch up on a few things before we get into the films and comics based on Waldemar Daninsky. First I want to say that if you are a Paul Naschy fan or if this blog has sparked your interest in learning more about this horror icon, I truly recommend his biography called “Paul Naschy: Memoirs Of A Wolfman.” It’s a great read and all the stories come straight from the man’s own words. I also would like to point out that besides the comic series “Return Of The Werewolf,” a few more comics have been made including one based on his film “Panic Beats” and another Daninsky inspired comic called “Waldemar Daninsky: The Origin of the Curse” that is based around his film “Beast And The Magic Sword.” While the issues of Panic Beats are in English, I have gotten word from the artist Javier Trujillo that Origin of the Curse is only in Spanish. So here is to hoping that some day this comic will be translated.
Before we move onto the films of Waldemar Daninsky, I would also like to invite all you readers to look up art based on the Daninsky Werewolf cause you will be amazed at how kick butt many of these pieces are! Many of them also make me wish that a full fledged comic series was being made around the character, and it also makes me really mad at Fangoria Comics for closing up shop way too quickly because stuff like this would have been a reality, as would many other cool horror film themed comics. Oh well, can’t cry over spilled milk, right? But take a look at a few of these great art pieces before we look at the films.
So as you know, this update is all about Waldemar Daninsky, and to get the full effect of the comic I should at least give you a rundown of the films that inspired the comic series and have been cherished by horror film fans for decades. Now I am going to only give you a small write up on what the films are about, and I am going to take them from IMDB because when I write about a Naschy werewolf film, I ramble and we can’t spend seven pages one just one film. I am sure none of you want that! So sit back and give the film descriptions a quick read. I should also note that I own all these films on DVD and the covers used are the DVD releases I own of the film.
Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968)
A man suffers from the curse of lyncanthropy and seeks out the aid of a German doctor and his wife who are experts in the occult. Unknowingly, the cursed man has summoned two vampires instead, who have plans of their own for the werewolf.
Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1970)
Aliens from a dying world plot to conquer earth by praying on man’s superstitions. Bringing two dead scientists (Michael Rennie and Karin Dor) back to life, they use their knowledge to re-animate various earth monsters, including the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy Tao-Tet, and the vampire Count de Meirhoff.
Side note from Matt: This film is mostly known as its alternate title Assignment Terror.
Werewolf Shadow (1971)
Elvira is travelling through the French countryside with her friend Genevieve, searching for the lost tomb of a medieval murderess and possible vampire, Countess Wandessa. They find a likely site in the castle of Waldemar Daninsky, who invites the women to stay as long as they like. As Waldemar shows Elvira the tomb that supposedly houses the countess, she accidentally causes the vampire to come back to life, hungrier than ever. Daninsky has a hidden secret of his own, but will it be enough to save the two girls from becoming Wandessa’s next victims?
Side note from Matt: This one is better known under the title “Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman”.
The Fury Of The Wolfman (1972)
A man has had a werewolf curse cast upon him. If he doesn’t get rid of it, he turns into a killer werewolf when the moon is full.
Dr. Jekyll vs. The Werewolf (1972)
Paul Naschy returns as El Hombre Lobo for the sixth time as he searches for a cure to his full moon maddness by visiting the grandson of the infamous Dr. Jekyll. What ensues next is a lovers’ triangle, and a savage sadistic Mr. Hyde who roams modern London and transforms into a werewolf on the disco floor.
Curse Of The Devil (1973)
The great inquisitor Ireneus Daninsky has Countess Bathory burned alive and her female followers hanged. Before perishing in the flames the countess puts a curse on Daninsky and his descendants. Four centuries later, Waldemar Daninsky accidentally shoots a gypsy while hunting a wolf. The angry gypsies, who knew of the curse, summon up the Satan and the beautiful Ilona is chosen to seduce the young lord. During a night of love, Ilona bites Waldemar who turns into a werewolf killing his preys on full moon nights. His murders are first attributed to a mad killer escaped from the asylum. Waldemar, who suspects the killer is none other than himself, falls in love with Kinga, the daughter of a professor from Budapest. When Maria, Kinga’s jealous younger sister, manages to seduce Waldemar and sleep with him, she is killed by the young man, once again turned into a werewolf.
The Werewolf And The Yeti (1975)
Waldemar, the renowned adventurer, joins an expedition to find the Yeti in the Himalayas. While hiking the mountains, he’s captured by two cannibalistic demon nymphets guarding a remote Buddhist temple and becomes their sex-slave. They transform him into a werewolf setting him loose to roam the mountain where he encounters a sadistic bandit.
Side note from Matt: This film is also known as “Horror Of The Werewolf” and “Night of the Howling Beast”.
Night Of The Werewolf (1975)
An evil witch brings back to life the infamous Elizabeth Bathory, who was executed several hundred years previously for murdering young woman and bathing in their blood.
Beast And The Magic Sword (1983)
In the 16th century, Waldemar Daninsky goes from his native Europe to Japan, seeking a way to cure himself of being a werewolf. Only a Japanese sorcerer named Kian and a magic silver sword can save him. This film moves the Daninsky family curse back to a medieval setting, as Naschy felt the Daninsky saga need not always be confined to a modern day setting.
Waldemar Daninsky is an aging writer still suffering from his werewolf curse, and seeking the pure woman that is the only permanent cure. A serial killer pops up in Naschy’s neighborhood, and the two compete for victims.
Tomb Of The Werewolf (2004)
Pre-credit opening sequence consists of Countess Erzabeth Bathory, making a pact with the devil in exchange for eternal youth & beauty from sacrificing young, nubile virgin women. After credits flashes to modern times, as a reality show TV crew visits Castle Daninsky, in search of hidden treasure hidden with the castle dungeons. Instead, they discover THE TOMB OF THE WEREWOLF, unleashing the cursed servant of the Countess, centuries later for all those in cable television land to see!
The films are all epic and each hold a charm that makes them worth watching. Missing from this list are two films. One film Naschy claims to have made but no known copy has ever been seen, and the second one is an off the wall film where Naschy plays a down and out actor who slips into many different horror icon characters that includes a werewolf. I also want to talk real quickly about the fact many horror hosts have hosted Naschy werewolf films including Commander USA who hosted The Werewolf And The Yeti under the title Horror Of The Werewolf, and many hosts have treated late night viewers to Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman. But one showing of a Naschy werewolf film that was iconic around here in Dayton, Ohio was when Dr. Creep hosted Assignment Terror (Dracula vs. Frankenstein) on his New Shock Theater in 1999 that marked the titan of late night fright’s return to TV in over 16 years! The episode was directed by Andy Copp and was about two grave robbers being sent out to find the grave of Dr. Creep and dig up the horror host’s body. They get a surprise when the grave is empty and Dr. Creep instead keeps them prisoners and makes them watch the Naschy classic with him. The episode was filled with other funny and silly skits and showed that our host Dr. Creep was back. It was a major deal around here when Creep came back to TV, and this episode will forever have a special place in my heart. The first time I ever saw this movie was on an old VHS tape I got at Kroger’s for a cheap price under the Dracula vs. Frankenstein title. The tape was unwatchable and was way too dark so it was nice to see it on TV with a slightly better print. This episode of New Shock Theater has come out on VHS and DVD-R so if you want to see it for yourself, it’s out in the world.
In 2011 during the first season of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre on episode, 6 Baron Von Porkchop hosted the Paul Naschy werewolf film “Fury of The Wolfman.” The episode had Baron Von Porkchop and his butler Bean going to Duke’s house for an interview with a professional werewolf hunter. For those who don’t know who Duke is, he is a character from the local horror film Wolf Hunter 2 who spends every waking moment killing werewolves in the state of Ohio. During the episode Duke shows the Baron a werewolf he has trapped in a shed and tells him of his first hunt. The downside a wild pack of cicadas have shown up and try to ruin the interview. When planning the first season with Baron, we both knew we had to show a Paul Naschy werewolf film, and we both agreed on Fury of The Wolfman. This episode aired a number of times on DATV, MVCC, The Monster Channel and The Vortexx and remains in the airing loop still to this day. If you’re looking to watch this episode, it is on DVD-R and can be found as I stated airing on one of those stations.
So with a look at all the Waldemar Daninsky films, horror hosts that have shown the films and even a look at the life of Paul Naschy, we are now at the point of the update where we review the comic series “Return Of The Werewolf,” a digital only comic that I was lucky enough to get a physical copy of thanks to a team up of some friends. So a big thanks goes out to Garrison, Eric and Amanda who made this update possible. This comic series was suppose to have come out via Fangoria Comics, but sadly the company folded before it was released. So it’s a true honor to be able to read this comic series and review it for you. Remember I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So with that, let’s howl at the moon and return to the werewolf!
Return Of The Werewolf # 1 ***1/2
Released in 2011 Cover Price $1.99 Fangoria Comics #1 of 2
Countess Elizabeth Bathory and her followers have been sentenced to death for crimes of murder, vampirism and witchcraft. While her followers have a quick death, the Countess’ is long and drawn out as she is walled up in her room. Also that day Waldemar Daninsky is killed with a silver cross to his heart for being a tool for evil when the full moon was out and for being controlled by Bathory as a killing machine of revenge. Flash forward and Erika, a young student, kills her teacher for a medallion that belonged to Bathory with the hope she can use it to bring the Countess back from the dead! At the old castle two grave robbers make the mistake of removing the silver cross from the dead corpse of Daninsky who springs to life as a werewolf and kills them both with one mighty hit. Erika, along with her friends Karin and Barbara, show up to the castle and explore the crypts underneath looking for the tomb of Bathory, but what Karin finds is Daninsky and his burnt faced maid and friend, Mircaya, who scare Karin and cause her to fall and hurt herself. Durning this time Waldemar Daninsky takes as the host to the girls and allows them to stay in the castle cause its been seen by Mircaya that Karin is the woman who will love and free his spirit from the curse of the werewolf. The night of the fullmoon as Erika and Barbara get ready to try and bring Bathory back Daninsky turns into a werewolf and if not for the silver cross held by Mircaya, Karin would have been a late night snack! Waldemar Daninsky as the werewolf crashes through the castle window and flees into the night.
What a fun comic that feels like the 12 film in the Waldemar Daninsky werewolf film series! This far in the series Erika is the lead baddie and kills her mentor and teacher in order to get an item that will help her bring back an evil and selfish vampire, she is also using her two friends to achive her goal. Karin is not fully flushed out yet but you get the idea that she is a good person who don’t like messing around with things that are evil. Barbara seems like a follower and I am sure this attitude will get her killed very soon in the next issue. Mircaya is a great character who while one side of her face is badly burnt she has a beauty to her that draws you in to caring about her, I love her back story of being accused of being a witch and was sent to burn at the stake and as they did so a rain storm came and saved her life. Her village still hating her sent her away and she found safety and friendship at the castle and has been close to Daninsky sense he was brought back to life by those two numbskull grave robbers. Waldemar Daninsky is as noble as ever and once more has found a woman to love and is hoping that she is the one to finally break his curse, as a human he is very caring and a likeable guy but as the werewolf he is a pure killing machine who has no remorse for his killing ways. The comics story is done by Paul Naschy based on his film of the same name and it shows that he knows and loves this character cause he delivers a classic feeling Spanish horror film adaptation comic and his love for the film “Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman” shines through as elements of this comic are clearly inspired by that film. The art in this comic is done by Javier Trujillo and its amazing stuff and her captures the mood and look of Naschy’s vision, his artwork is truly something special. This is a great first issue and I am itching to get to # 2 so I think I will not delay any more and will move onto the final issue in the series, but before that look at some of the cool artwork from issue 1.
Pretty great stuff right? Trujillo’s werewolf art is amazing and I wish he would do more Daninsky inspired comics. Well lets get to issue # 2!
Return Of The Werewolf # 2 ***
Released in 2011 Cover Price $1.99 Fangoria Comics #2 of 2
Erika uses the blood of Barbra to bring back Elizabeth Bathory who repays them both by turning them into her vampire slaves and together they torment and kill near by villagers. Sadly Waldemar Daninsky at night during the full moon does the same thing, but during the day he and Karin try to find the resting spot of the vampires so they can kill them while they sleep. Bathory gets upset by this hunt and they attack and transform Mircaya into a vampire and try to do the same to Karin who defends herself and kills the vampire Barbara with the silver cross. This attack means all out war and leads to Karin being bite and being the slave of Bathory and Daninsky finding their hideout and killing Erika and turning into the werewolf and battling Bathory to the death, in the end the Werewolf kills the vampire queen but he himself is killed with the silver cross by the hands of Karin who has had the vampire bite reversed and has set the one she loved soul free.
The second issue is the wrap up issue and while it’s good I do feel it was very much rushed and lacks some of the chilling appeal of the first issue, most the the storyline comes via dialogue and not via art and this takes you a little out of the atmosphere. Waldemar Daninsky knows he does bad things and in this issue he kills a few townsfolk, but even tho he is a killer he knows that Elizabeth Bathory is the greater evil and does what he can to kill her before his own death that he knows will be coming soon by the hands of his lover. Werewolf Daninsky is a cold blooded killer and makes short work of the vampire queen Bathory and shows his power and domination. Bathory is cold hearted and along with Erika they turn both Mircaya and Karin into vampires causing Waldemar to have to kill his friend and save the soul of his loved one. I really dislike the death and transformation of Mircaya and feel that both of these acts seemed like a second thought and not that important, and that saddens me as besides Daninsky she was my favorite character. Karin while important to the story just seemed like she was around to in the end kill the werewolf, and I felt as if I could not connect with her. The issue is filled with lots of blood and murder and when the werewolf goes off he shreds and kills with no remorse and this is just perfect for a horror comic. Javier Trujillo artwork is again breath taking and amazing and his work I feel is very underrated, while he works mostly doing sex art his horror stuff is truly the best. The cover on this issue showcases the Vampire Women and is as well eye catching.
This is a perfect horror comic and one of the better adaptations I have ever read, the joy of finally getting copies of this comic in my hand was a highlight of 2013 and for as long as I have heard about this comic I have wanted to read it so you can imagine my delight of being able to read and review these for you my readers. With these comics being so good I would have loved to see this be turned into a full fledge comic series and companies like Fangoria, Topps and Dead Dog would have been he perfect companies to put a series like this out, but sadly they all have closed. I figured that while I am in a horror comic mood the next update will be another adaptation as we will take a look at Topps Comics three issue run based on the New Line Cinema film Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, so I hope you will join me for that one. So with the sun coming up and the curse of the werewolf lifted I hope you enjoy a horror film or two and stay clear of wooded areas cause you never know a werewolf might be watching!