EL AULLIDO DEL DIABLO/THE HOWL OF THE DEVIL

1988

Cast: Paul Naschy (Hector Doriani, Alex Doriani, Rasputin, Quasimodo, Bluebeard, the Frankenstein Monster, Fu Manchu, the Phantom of the Opera, Mr. Hyde, the Devil, Waldemar Daninsky), Caroline Munro (Carmen), Howard Vernon (Eric), Sergio Mills/Sergio Molina (Adrian), Fernando Hilbeck (Priest), Crisanto Huerta (Vagabond), Isabel Prinz, Carmen Plate, Mabel Ondonez
Director: Paul Naschy
Screenplay: Paul Naschy
Photography: Julio Burgos
Music: Fernando Garcia Morcillo
Production Company: Augusto Boue & Paul Naschy for Freemont-Nasch International (Madrid)

Running time: 97 min.

Fujicolor

U.S. theatrical release: None

Video: Various bootlegs released

   

Review:

"Someday my reign will end and you will rule, you, the anti-Christ."

The above quote is the very last line of dialogue in Paul Naschy's most personal and self-reflexive horror film. Personal in the sense that his own son, Sergio Molina, appears in a key role and the project appears to be Naschy's review (with commentary) on his own career as writer, actor and director. It is the first of his horror films signed with his screen, Paul Naschy, rather than his real name, Jacinto Molina. It's as if he is acknowledging his unique place in the history of Spanish horror even in the film's credits. Immediately following the main credits is a telling dedication to Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney and Jack Pierce (the creator of the make-up of so many of the classic Universal monsters). The fact that the legendary make-up artist's name is placed alongside such more familiar horror legends as Karloff and Lugosi is especially interesting in this context. HOWL OF THE DEVIL is, if anything, a kind of cinematic equivalent to "Famous Monsters of Filmland," and Naschy appears as the Frankenstein monster, Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fu Manchu, just to name a few.

The film is set in modern, post General Franco Spain. In a way, it could be read as an allegory of a new era haunted by old mythologies. A parallel can be found to Luis Bunuel's VIRIDIANA, made during the repressive Franco regime, where the estate itself could be Spain straining under the burden of neglect and fear. Hector Doriani (Paul Naschy) is a disturbed ex-actor, who despite a respectable career, remains bitter that his late brother, Alex, was more famous for his many horror roles. Alex is also played by Naschy (in a flashback) and a clip from PANIC BEATS, watched by young Sergio on video, defines the late 1980s as an era which saw the start of an interest in European horror by fans all over the world. Sergio is representative of that generation, and the ultimate fate of his character is made all the more disturbing by that connection.

This is the new Spain where XXX films are allowed and hookers can hitckhike in open only to get picked up by the awful Dr Orloff himself, Howard Vernon. They are then delivered to the actor's villa for well paid, perverted sex games after which they are graphically disemboweled by a killer wearing black gloves (perhaps a reference to the gialli of Dario Argento?). Vernon tells a victim that Time has stopped in this household and indeed it has. All the famous monsters are trotted out for the edification of our (and Paul Naschy's) fandom. But an even more sinister force than the twisted Doriani watches from concealed areas. Is it the vengeful spirit of Alex Doriani, or Satan himself?

Spanish Catholicism is given a workover through Fernando Hilbeck's hypocritical priest, who rapes a guilt ridden servant (Caroline Munro) after she refuses to resume an affair. Naschy pans up to Christ on the cross, reminding us of the crucifixion of the title character in his 1979 masterwork, EL CAMINANTE. This is Spanish horror, after all, and Naschy delivers throat cuttings, guttings, ax murders, torture, sexual mutilation and more. It's all to a purpose, though. He makes us question our expectations of horror cinema while going over the top of our wildest dreams. It's all bound together by the great Fernando Garcia Morcillo's oppressive score.

With such icons as Vernon and Munro in the cast, Naschy playing a double role, and the superb supporting cast of Spanish horror vets, we are treated to an acting workshop which demonstrates how to intelligently cast a horror film. It's obvious, as a writer, Naschy put a lot of thought into the scenario, and the layered references to Hollywood and Euro cinefantastique are numerous and awesome to behold. Needless to say, multiple viewings are absolutely essential. Rich in metaphor and dazzling in its detailed gallery of creatures, HOWL OF THE DEVIL is the Euro cult film to end all Euro cult films. Going back to our opening quotation, the end promises an evil era. The world dominated by the Anti-Christ. Could it already be upon us?

Reviewed by Robert Monell 2002


Notes: So far, EL AULLIDO DEL DIABLO is the last significant horror film made by Paul Naschy. Unlike the more recent LICANTROPO, Naschy had a certain amount of control, as co-producer and director, in DIABLO. The film was meant to be more accessible to English-speaking audiences and possibly re-introduce Naschy to British and American movie-goers, this time heralding his first major appearance in an "English-language" film. Filming began in English, and Naschy used a known English cast, Caroline Munro and Howard Vernon, to supplement the Anglo effect he was going for. Reportedly, the English-language script was an awkward word for word translation of the Spanish original, and Caroline Munro had to smooth it out to make it sound right. In a "making of" featurette, one can see how Spanish cast members were prompted/aided by off-camera line readings in English. Apparently all this effort was for naught, as an English language version of this film has never shown up (nor has the film ever had a theatrical showing in England or the United States). There is an indication that shooting in English was eventually dispensed with as being more trouble than it was worth, but work may have been possibly left over for post-dubbing. Whatever the case, post-production difficulties, including the death of a producer, relegated the film to an unfortunate limbo, with only later Spanish television showings giving it an "official" light of day.

For Naschy, this film was a personal statement on the horror genre and the cruel response of critics to his art. As an actor, he had a field day paying homage to a legendary cast of horror characters, from the Phantom of the Opera to Fu Manchu. The film is indispensible viewing for any fan of Paul Naschy and for the general afficiando or student of horror cinema.

[By the way, the "poster" above is a mock-up. There is no known poster to this film.]


Some of the "monsters" played by Naschy in THE HOWL OF THE DEVIL: 

     


Waldemar Daninsky


Fu Manchu


Quasimodo

 
Spanish lobby cards contained the same corner artwork by Jano, who decided to pay his own homage to classic horror figures by depicting Frederick March as Mr. Hyde, German Robles as Count Karol de Lavud  (used though there is no vampire in EL AULLIDO DEL DIABLO!), Karloff as the Monster, and what looks like the Cryptkeeper himself, though probably meant to represent the skeletal appearance of Alex Doriani in the film's finale.