Someday somebody is going to write an essay comparing Paul Naschy's "Fury of the Wolfman" to the great Spanish surrealist films, "L'age D'or" and "Un Chien Andelou". The Naschy film is a masterpiece of delirium from beginning to end. Dali and Bunuel probably loved it, and ate their hearts out seeing someone do with such apparent ease what they had to rack their brains to pull off. The film lacks cohesive structure even though it does have a plot that moves from A to B to C. Some mishmash about a "Professor Walterman" -- his first name, mind you -- who was bitten by a Yeti monster during an expedition to Tibet and hasn't been the same since, which is understandable. One of his jealous colleagues, the insane daughter of the noted Doctor Wolfstein, knows about his condition and reveals that his wife has been cheating on him. But its a setup for a twisted scientific experiment to unleash his inner beast. "Walterman" flips out, turns into a werewolf, kills a few people, is electrocuted, dies, is buried, unburied, taken to a castle filled with circus freaks, wired to various machines, zapped with assorted electronic effects, injected with potent elixirs, is chained up, turns into a werewolf, a woman in an evening gown with thigh-high Nazi fetish boots whips him, he escapes, helps the pretty female doctor find her way out of the castle, fends off the circus freaks with a battle axe, eventually turns back into a werewolf, and has to fight to the death against the female werewolf incarnation of his cheating wife. The lady with the Nazi boots shoots him with silver bullets from her Luger pistol, they die together, and the pretty doctor walks off into the morning with the studly reporter, who did nothing. "Look! What a beautiful day it is!" "La furia del Hombre Lobo" was written by Paul Naschy in a hurry. Original director Enrique Eguilez was fired and replaced by José María Zabalza, a drunk who was infamously intoxicated throughout the production. He was often unable to work (though he did find time to instruct his 14 year old nephew to make some alterations to the script) and Naschy ended up directing much of the film uncredited. Zabalza did rally enough to clip some action scenes from one of Naschy's previous movies, "Mark of the Wolfman". The scenes were fortunately good enough to use twice even if the costumes were different, and helped pad out the runtime after Zabalza refused to get out of bed to finish the movie. Post production was a nightmare. Nobody knew who was doing the editing, the money ran out, the master print disappeared for a while, and then at a pre-release screening for a film distributor the executive arrived to find Zabalza urinating into the gutter in front of the theater. He was too drunk to find the restroom but at least he made it to the curb. Yet somehow the film works, if you let it. It keys into those atavistic memories we have about murky castles, vaulted catacombs, chains, whips, gloomy moors. Fans of those sort of things will find it hypnotically watchable even if the story as a whole doesn't make much sense due to the fractured discontinuity of the execution. In one scene its pouring rain and the wolfman howls at the lightning; in the next shot its bone dry and he's howling at the full moon. Then its raining again. And yet you don't look at it as a gaffe. Its like an unfolding dream where contradictions are possible, opposites are the same, and effects proceed causes; First the wolfman picks up the power cable and screams, and then the cable starts sparking with electricity. People say its low budget hurts the overall effectiveness -- I say the film would have been unwatchable if they had a dime more to spend. It is a marvel of making something out of nothing, and succeeds not because of what it could of had, but because of what it does. It's easy to laugh at stuff like this and even easier to dismiss it. The trick is being able to see through the mayhem, or rather to regard the chaos as part of the effect. Paul Naschy died last week at the age of 75. He had been ill with pancreatic cancer for a year or more, was working on film projects right up until his last days, but passed away in Madrid, Spain, with his family while receiving chemotherapy treatment. His rich, varied, and surprisingly lengthy career is a legacy to a man stubbornly pursuing his artistic vision in the face of universal mainstream disinterest. And yet in all of us there is an eleven year old kid who will watch his movies like "Fury of the Wolfman" in rapt awe. Even people who don't like Euro Horror will discover something in this movie to marvel at, if only for just a minute in a couple spots. You can find it for free at Archive.Org or even buy it on a DVD for a nickel. It's worth far, far more. Amusingly, Naschy was horrified to learn that many others like myself regard this twisted, sick, demented little movie as a classic, if not an outright masterpiece of Cinema Dementia. The problems he encountered during the production and the mess of a film that was left after were perhaps too personal an artistic disappointment for Naschy to forgive. I would never presume to dare to forgive it for him, but I will say this: I'd rather watch "Fury of the Wolfman" in its dingiest, most cut and degraded fullscreen public domain print than ever sit though the overbearing, obnoxious crap churning out up at the Swine Flu cineplexes this or any other weekend. The world lost a great artist this month. Watch his films, and remember. 9/10
Fury of the Wolfman
Fury of the Wolfman
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.
January 27, 2021