Curse of the Devil (aka Return of the Walpurgis) (Carlos Aured, 1973)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
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When a Grand Inquisitor has a witch burned at the stake during the Spanish inquisition, she curses his bloodline. Years later his descendant kills what he thinks is a wolf on his castle grounds, only to discover it has turned into a dead Gypsy man. The head Gypsy witch then sends a young slut to seduce and then curse him with lycanthropy. Now doubly cursed, the man transforms into a bloodthirsty werewolf during the full moon and terrorizes the locals. 
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This is the kind of film that reminds me why I got so hardcore into horror in the first place. It’s atmospheric, beautiful, scary, has a very well developed story with a multitude of layers, contains beautiful women, devil worship, serial killing, monsters… there’s really not a lot it doesn’t have going for it. Paul Naschy reprises his role of Waldemar Daninsky (El Hombre Lobo – a role he returned to eleven times, beating out Lon Chaney Jr. for most film roles playing a werewolf with a respectable seven), the cursed noble-turned-wolfman who bangs sluts left, right and center (not so much in wolf form, unfortunately). Of the dozen films that feature Daninsky, the origin of his lycanthropy remains abstruse as each film in the series (Curse of the Devil is the seventh) has its own standalone story unrelated to its predecessors. Sadly it seems that one of those aforementioned twelve films (1968’s Las Noches del Hombre Lobo) may no longer exist or had never actually been completed, (possibly having been discarded by the lab that developed the film negative after the producer failed to pick it up due to being involved in a fatal car accident a week after the film wrapped. Naschy was once quoted as stating even he hadn’t seen it and had been unaware until decades later that it had never been released anywhere).

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In this particular iteration, Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy; Hunchback of the Morgue, Horror Rises From the Tomb) is a nobleman who spends his time hunting and banging chicks, until he gets cursed by a hot Gypsy witch (Elsa Zabala; 99 Women, Vengeance of the Zombies) (after the coven take turns fucking and sucking the devil – literally) who turns him into a werewolf, where the then spends his time banging sluts and hunting, confused as to why he keeps waking up with strange dreams and torn clothing.  Seems alright to me. I’m pretty sure the only thing I would change if I were a rich guy in a castle with werewolf powers would be bathing in the blood of my enemies.

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As if that wasn’t enough to make an entertaining monster movie, there’s also a gibbering lunatic that’s been wandering the woods chopping up locals with an axe. Between that and the awesome Spanish Inquisition action at the very beginning and the burning of the Countess Bathory (Maria Silva; The Awful Dr. Orloff, Tombs of the Blind Dead) at the stake and you have quite the robust storyline. Needless to say, Curse of the Devil has no time to drag its heels. Even wrapping the story in so many layers and taking it in so many directions the film never gets muddled or confusing, it flows together perfectly. It’s a testament to Naschy’s writing talent, no question.

The production itself is masterfully executed, the score is brilliant, and the locations are breathtaking; with long atmospheric shots of the Spanish countryside, dilapidated castles, mist-laden foreboding woods, the film draws the viewer in completely and effortlessly. In fact, the photography contained herein could be subject of review in and of itself.
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Written by Naschy under pseudonym “Jack Moll”, El Hombre Lobo has never been in better form. Naschy was undoubtedly deeply influenced by Lon Chaney’s Wolf Man but fortunately had the foresight to add sex and violence into the mix to satiate those of us with more mature tastes, resulting in an exquisite amalgam of classic monster movie and Eurosleaze – that’s really what makes these films so great. Naschy’s El Hombre Lobo always makes me feel like a kid again yet continues to keep me interested with naked sluts, gratuitous violence and carnage. Naschy was truly ahead of his time, I wish there were more filmmakers willing to take the old standby monster archetypes and sleaze them up as perfectly as Naschy did. Jess Franco had some hit and miss dabbling with Drácula Contra Frankenstein, both Blood For Dracula and Flesh For Frankenstein were outstanding entries from the Andy Warhol funded Paul Morrissey, and Mario Mancini’s deliciously sleazy Frankenstein 80 all come to mind as close contenders, but none of them really capture that monster movie feel as well as Naschy’s films do.

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It’s no secret that we here at The Church of Splatter-Day Saints are HUGE fans of the late, great Paul Naschy. I feel it would be a disservice at this point to not mention the brilliant book that was put out last year by Creepy Images: Muchas Gracias Señor Lobo which is a beautifully illustrated compilation of advertising material, movie posters, lobby cards, etc. spanning from the late 60s to the 80s that took over 18 years to assemble. This is in my opinion essential for any serious fan of Paul Naschy and European horror movies in general. I consider it an honor to own a copy of the limited hardcover edition of this fabulous tome and implore you to check it out if you haven’t already; it’s worth every fucking penny. Rumor has it that there is an additional volume coming out containing material from Naschy’s non-horror movies as well as newer films. Fuck yes.

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If you’ve ever shied away from the ever-present Universal Monsters films because you felt they’d be too tame, give the El Hombre Lobo films a shot. Curse of the Devil is a great place to begin. You’ll thank me later (I accept cash and dirty pictures of your sister).

Official COSDS Nunspank Rating: 
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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