Perhaps the most perverse aspect of being an avid moviegoer or Blockbuster aficionado is the mere fact we aren't exposed to all types of cinema. We are, in fact, lucky if a few Foreign films somehow filter through to the multiplex cinema & some of us make a special point to check them out. The rest of us are satisfied with the status quo & desire nothing more than what the mainstream audiences crave. At the end of the day, there is so much around the world to see & we have simply allowed ourselves to be blinded to all that exists in any given format.
Perhaps one of the most endearing werewolf love stories ever.
One of the most commonly overlooked genres is the Spanish Fantasy/Horror which is as wide as any in America. There are thousands upon thousands of great films which hardly anyone has heard of that have seemingly fallen through the cracks. A few films have somehow managed to maintain a shelf life through old VHS tapes which are now available on quality DVDs & that's truly a godsend. It's time to re-visit those oldies for a brief moment in our lives & to perhaps discover what we should have had the pleasure of enjoying all along. Thankfully, there are now websites which try to aid in facilitating work for veteran actors who were leads in the international Horror classics so this legacy may continue to evolve.
Perhaps the most underrated or overlooked actor of the Spanish Horror genre is non other than Paul Naschy AKA Jacinto Molina. Often compared to cinema greats such as Lon Chaney or Vincent Price, one can't help but be at least curious when considering the longevity of his career & obtaining some of his best works on DVD. Perhaps some of you may even remember hearing of his WolfMan films in the late '60s, '70s, or perhaps even the middle '80s. The most common film to appear in the states was THE CRAVING which Vestron Video released in the late '80's. THE CRAVING videotape wasn't great quality but I prized this possession nonetheless for many years as Naschy's work was extremely
difficult to find back then. Fortunately, most of the WolfMan films are now readily available on DVD & the transfers are astonishingly beautiful.
Paul Naschy was one of the most handsome actors with or without hair.
Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky is certainly one of Naschy's most famous Horror characters & Naschy holds an amazing record of playing the same role in 12 consecutive films easily beating out Chaney who only played a wolfman 7 times in his entire life. Unfortunately, none of the 12 films seem to be connected as far as plot goes nor could they be placed in any sort of chronological order. In no two films does the character have the same origin & many of them didn't have the same distributor. Strangely enough, Naschy had developed quite a cult following throughout the years despite these inconsistencies.
Although Naschy was most famous for playing the WolfMan character, he tackled many other roles & scripted several films which eventually would lead to directing projects in the late "70's. While certainly impossible to locate all the films in Naschy's prolific career, we should tip our hats to the man for trying not only to maintain the genre but ensuring these films would be viable for many years to come. Count Dracula, Mr. Hyde, a mummy, & a hunchback are just a few of the great characters Naschy would bring to life. Pretty impressive, eh?
Today, Naschy continues to work as hard as ever pursuing projects of all kinds in the artworld. There is no telling where we will find him on any given day but we can be assured that his name won't be easily forgotten. Some of the recent work in the Naschy archives would be an autobiographical book entitled "Memoirs of a WolfMan" in 2000 & the film Rojo Sangre was unleashed in 2003 on DVD. Although ROJO SANGRE is much different than any other Naschy film I've ever seen, it's easily one of the best overlooked Horror films in my personal opinion. In addition to his many contributions to Horror cinema, Naschy also appeared on the theatrical stage in LAS
MUJERES FRAGANTES, which is a re-working of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray story. Probability suggests that Naschy still has more work to complete in his life which is reassuring to hardcore fans like myself.
The old U.S. cover from Vestron Video brings back memories of good times.
Another great master of Spanish cinema is Jose Mojica Marins, also known by his alter ego Zé do Caixão (in English, Coffin Joe.) Many of you have perhaps seen the DVD covers for three of his films which were granted release in America by Fantoma DVD. Although I don't believe Marins was nearly as prolific as Naschy per se, his work is nonetheless worthy of great praise & is particularly popular with Horror enthusiasts. Mike Patton, Sepultura, & Rob Zombie have openly admitted to being huge fans of Marins' work with great reason. Sadly, we don't have releases of all Marins' extensive catalog currently on DVD but were instead blessed with three terrific films which I've seen numerous times in the past five years.
Horror films were practically non-existent at the time in which the first Coffin Joe film was released in Brazil. To this day, Coffin Joe may very well be the spookiest villain or psychopath Brazil has ever encountered in black & white cinema or psychedelic color. Marins directed & played unholy undertaker Coffin Joe who terrorizes his hometown in search of an atheist woman to carry his child. Naturally, no one dares to stop him in the beginning & Coffin Joe gets whatever he wants. Considered very controversial during it's initial release, the film was nevertheless a great success in Marins' native country. Shortly thereafter, Marins bequeathed the sequel which is nearly twice as horrifying & every bit as original. Sadly, most fans were under the impression our beloved villain had finally died at the end of the second film.
At last, curiosity seekers discover that Marins still makes films & I've recently read that the third installment of the Coffin Joe series entitled The Embodiment of Evil was released in Brazil by
20th Century Fox this year. Supposedly, this entry was shot during November and December 2006 & naturally I'm hoping this film will somehow find it's way to American audiences. In this final entry, Coffin Joe returns to Sao Paulo after spending 40 years in an insane asylum to continue with his singular quest for the perfect woman yet again. I can feel chills running up & down my spine all over again at the mention of his name & I am keeping my fingers crossed.
And you will live in terror until he steals your soul.....
The history of Spanish Horror lives on in the hearts of those who have followed these films for years & now can see them they way they were meant to be seen. Throughout the course of nearly forty some odd years, we have come a long way. Guillermo Del Toro has made himself a household name with films like Pan's Labyrinth although his story wasn't an overnight success either. Perhaps the crossover acceptance of his masterpiece will give way to more Horror films produced in Spanish countires being imported to North America. Again, one can hope that this wasn't a fluke & great things can be expected sometime in the near future.
As I approach my 34th birthday this month, I stop & reflect upon all the great cinema that I have been fortunate enough to discover in my life & all the films that still find their way into my heart even now. Probability suggests I'll never be completely satisfied with being confined to what the friendly multiplex will allow us to see but I'm constantly searching for new finds in the digital world as far as great cinema goes. I give my utmost respect to those out there still cranking out the great works of art even though I may not see them for many years after their initial release. Trust me, there is plenty of material out there which is good regardles of the medium in which it can be seen & we are fortunate to have this material readily available. Do not take it for granted.
email this column to a friend
Comment on this Column:
|Sorry, you must be a member to add comments to columns.|
Join or Login.
Subscribe to MatchFlick Movie Reviews through RSS
|Sinema Infatuated Junkie|
Every other Saturday
Dissecting artwork be it trash cinema or tomorrow's cult classic wannabes & spreading the knowledge on how to distinguish the real from the reels. Exploring unchartered territories throughout history of film-making which have been overlooked & simply deserve a second chance.
If Pan met Apollo down with the sin, I would be amongst the angels who descended to Earth with great mission to seek newfound meaning & to explore great sinema. Brian was born in 1974 ofcourse on the NC/VA border & has been watching movies for as far back as he can remember. One should never forget a great movie nor pass up the chance to spread the word on a bad one.|
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Brian Yandle by clicking here.|