Thursday, 6 November 2014

Euro - Horror Vaction: The Curse of the Devil (aka El Retorno De Walpurgis)

The Curse of the Devil (aka El Retorno De Walpurgis) (1973)
Director: Carlos Aured
Starring: Paul Naschy, Fabiola Falcon, and Mariano Vidal Molina
Running Time: 73 min

  Paul Naschy was the king of Spain's horror movie industry.  Credited for over 100 films, the character that I'll most remember him for was Waldemar Daninsky, the man with the werewolf curse.  Naschy played this character in 12 separate features, some has sequels and some not.  I've only seen a handful of his films and I'm looking forward to seeing this one and more when I get a chance.

  Ireneus Daninsky battles Lord Bathory on horseback to stop him and his evil coven of witches from taking over his town.  They fight and eventually Daninsky defeats him and takes his head as a prize.  He then enlists the town people to help him shut down the coven and the hang all the witches, except for Elizabeth Bathory, who he wants to burn alive!  However before he sets her aflame, she curses Daninsky and his family forever! And then he lights her up.
  Many years later, I'm guessing, Count Waldemar Daninsky and a friend are hunting during the day and they shoot a wolf with a silver bullet, then it runs into some bushes.  However when they go to retrieve the carcass, they find a man instead of the wolf.  Confused because who has heard of a werewolf out during the day, Waldemar tries to make amends with the gypsies, but they won't have anything to do with Waldemar's money and leave.  The gypsies then decide that they will summon the Devil, so he can suggest the best course of action.  After the Devil is summoned and has fondled and molested most of the hot girls in the coven, he then chooses a girl to put his plan in action.  She is to bite Waldemar with the cursed skull of a wolf because that will turn him into a werewolf.  So, she lies in front on the road and waits for Waldemar to stops and help her.  Which he does and he brings her back to the castle and they have sex.  After the sex, she waits til he's asleep and then bites him with the skull.  She then runs off into the night and is unfortunately hacked to pieces by a maniac that has just escaped from mental institution.  Waldemar is not only heartbroken but now has the curse of the werewolf on him.
  Some time must have passed, but I'm not sure, however Waldemar meets another girl who he falls in love with, but again every full moon he turns into a werewolf and attacks villagers.  The police are confusing his crimes with the homicidal maniac that is still on the loose.  Can Waldemar ever escape the curse that his family is under and find happiness with his new love or is he destined to have flea baths after every full moon?

  To be honest, this was a lot better than I was expecting.  There are a lot of cool horror characters thrown into this, like witches, werewolves, a homicidal maniac and even the spirit of the devil shows up!  All that was left was an evil kitchen sink and it would have everything!  Although there was a lot of terrifying plates spinning, director Carlos Aured (The Mummy's Revenge, Horror Rises From the Tomb) actually handles most of these creatures that keep popping up  really well, and keeps the story flowing and going forward.  Most of the time, these B-Movies seem to drag but this one keeps hitting you with one thing after another.  There is no time to be bored.
  The makeup for the werewolf is pretty good and they do some alright transformation scenes.  There is a huge body count in this film and I'm surprised that they could still call it a village because with the numbers dwindling, I don't think there was anyone left living there by the end of the movie.  There is some gore, this werewolf seems to like to eat people's faces, but most of the violence is quick or done off camera but they do show the outcome of the attack.

  The concept of time in this film is really strange because they never mention or indicate that time has past.  Where most scripts stories deal with events with a certain period or indicate to the audience that more time has past, like some text that says a month later or something, this one does not.  Outside of the ancestral battle at the beginning, I didn't catch on that large amounts of time were passing until later on in the film.  Which is a little confusing at times for the viewer.
  Also, what may contribute to this is that there are no establishing shots in this film.  There are mostly hard cuts from scene to scene and there is hardly any dramatic build up for any of them.  Each scene is to there to give you specific information, is a love scene or it is a werewolf attack.  Either Aured didn't take enough or any exterior shots for coverage or he and the editor just cut the film for time and shoehorned every important scene in the film.  It's not really that bad, but it seems like you are just rushing through the film instead of just enjoying it.  However, this approach to film making is interesting to watch.
  Finally, there was only one scene that really bugged me in the whole film and put me off. It's when Waldemar's new love interest's sister comes to have sex with him in this cabin in the woods.  What bugs me is that she is attacked by the homicidal maniac and hit repeatedly with the ax, but when Waldemar eventually stops him and chases him away, she is ok?  Not even a scratch.  This guy is going to town on her with an axe and she should have been cut to ribbons considering the blows on her.  This dude is either the worst homicidal maniac ever or he really needs that ax sharpened.  It's just annoying because shit like this really takes people out of the picture.

Overall though this wasn't too bad and there were some good moments at times.  A lot of horror culture in this and the werewolf is fun to watch.  So next full moon, give this a shot and it might have you howling!


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