Ding dong, the Wolf Man’s dead

If you can tear yourselves away from the latest Tiger Woods update for just a moment, I have a real tragedy to report.

Paul Naschy has passed on.

Who’s Paul Naschy? you ask. Permit me to enlighten you, friend reader.

Paul Naschy was a cult filmmaker from Spain. (His real name was Jacinto Molina, which sounds more like a baseball player than a movie star.) For most of his lengthy career, Naschy acted in horror films, many of which he wrote or directed or both. Due to his performances as many of the classic monsters of cinema, he was nicknamed “the Spanish Lon Chaney.” And like the junior of the two American actors by that name, Naschy was most famous for portraying a werewolf on screen.

Beginning with his 1968 film The Mark of the Wolf Man (La Marca del Hombre Lobo), Naschy created his signature character, the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. (Naschy made his antihero Polish because the government cinema censors of the day would not sanction films that showed Spanish characters engaging in violent behavior.) Naschy would assume the Daninsky role a dozen times over the next 35 years, in movies that for the most part had little if anything to do with one another, save for Naschy/Daninsky himself. He finally retired the character in an American production, Tomb of the Werewolf, directed by another notorious schlockmeister, Fred Olen Ray.

In addition to his Wolf Man series, Naschy starred in dozens of other movies, almost all of them in the horror or crime genres. Unfortunately, most of Naschy’s oeuvre — at least the handful of examples I’ve seen — is pretty poor by any objective standard. In fairness, we’re talking about films that were being made on budgets smaller than our monthly cable bill. Still, it doesn’t take all that much viewing to figure out that as filmmakers go, Naschy was immeasurably closer to Ed Wood than to Orson Welles.

During my tenure as a film critic for DVD Verdict, I once landed the unfortunate assignment of reviewing a Naschy opus — 1973’s Curse of the Devil (titled El retorno de Walpurgis in its original Spanish release). I don’t know what the devil had against me that he cursed me with watching this incoherent monstrosity, but if you follow the magic link, you can share my agony. Because misery loves company.

Or is that Missouri? I forget.

Anyway…

Whatever his failings as a cinematic genius, Naschy boasted a devoted fan base that salivated over every ghastly frame of celluloid in which he appeared. The strong-stomached among you may wish to check out The Mark of Naschy, a thorough and surprisingly well-appointed shrine dedicated to the man and his legacy.

Make sure your sidearm is loaded with silver bullets.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Celebritiana, Cinemania, Dead People Got No Reason to Live, Ripped From the Headlines

One Comment on “Ding dong, the Wolf Man’s dead”

  1. urdead2me Says:

    RIP – Paul Naschy, 75, who drank blood, howled at the moon, swathed himself in bandages, and didn’t let a hunched back deter his dreams. But the “Boris Karloff of Spain” was no match for an even more horrific monster: pancreatic cancer. http://urdead2me.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/rip-paul-naschy/


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