LA FURIA DEL HOMBRE LOBO/THE FURY OF THE WOLFMAN
|Director: Jose Maria
Producer: Maximiliano Perez and Cesar Gallego for Maxper (Madrid)
Script: Jacinto Molina
Music: Angel Arteaga, Anna Satrova
Cast: Paul Naschy (Waldemar Daninsky), Perla Cristal (Ilona Wolfstein), Michael Rivers, Veronica Lujan (Karen), Mark Stevens, Diana Montes (Erika), Jose Marco, Miguel De La Riva (Heinrich)
Alternate title: WOLFMAN NEVER SLEEPS
perverse, highly-erratic gem. Naschy's script is particularly good,
exploring as it does the tension between man and woman (in this case, a
woman's need to dominate a man's will). The scene where ice-queen Ilona (Perla
Cristal) descends the stairs to the dungeon, whip in hand, to tame
her chained, former-lover Daninsky summarizes perfectly the erotic subtext
running throughout the movie. The Naschy trademark approach to horror
(throwing in everything but the kitchen sink) is in full bloom here also.
So we have Daninsky battling a man in a suit of armor and a "phantom of
the opera" type, as well as a female werewolf and mental patients, or
mutants, or whatever the hell they're suppose to be. The canned music
ruins the film at moments; it use at the ending is particularly
debilitating, while in the more frantic sequences, it works in a
surreal/macabre way to underline the perverse fantasy playing out before
us. But the film is at its most involving (and original) when it deals
with the Ilona character, a scientist/professor played with a seductive
bitchy sting by the Argentinian-born Perla Cristal. Her quest is nothing
less than harnessing the love, and symbolically the testosterone, of
Daninsky. "Be a man!" she goads the weak-willed Daninsky at one point. She
forces the issue by resurrecting Daninsky after he has been apparently
killed and forcing him to turn into a werewolf in an attempt to awaken his
dormant manliness. A current of lesbianism also seems to run through the
Ilona character (most of her helpers are bitchy, aloof women like herself),
furthering the curious webs the film weaves. These noteworthy points only
highten the film's obvious deficiencies. The director, Jose Maria Zabalza,
was drunk most of the time, according to Naschy in his interview for
Videooze magazine (P.O Box 9911, Alexandria, VA 22304). Naschy also
revealed in the same interview that it was one of the few times he cried,
as he saw what was happening with the movie as it was being made. Because
the film came out too short, it was padded with scenes from
LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO, and in certain long shots another
actor was used instead of Naschy. So, coupled with really effective
sequences, we have scenes of the Wolfman walking like a normal person
(almost casually strolling!) down deserted city streets. (This was the
double secretly employed by Zabalza.) The dubbing only adds to the heady
confusion, for Naschy's character is called a variety of names at various
points. Because of its unevenness, this is a frustrating film, to be sure.
But it also works on the level of "I-can't-believe-what-I'm-seeing." Not
to be missed. (Source print: Alpha Video, a sell-through label. Recorded
in SLP mode, cut of any nudity; this is undoubtedly the soft "TV version"
of the film.)
Above: Front and back of the old Unicorn large-size clamshell video
Swedish Video cover on the VTC label, number 5148 ("Varulven" means "The Werewolf"); film was never released theatrically in Sweden. This PAL video is the source for the letterboxed dupes of this film. Cover scan and info thanks to Johan Karlsson.
Bits and Pieces: Perla Cristal (Ilona) appeared in the first two Dr. Orloff films, Gritos en la Noche (Cries in the Night/The Awful Dr. Orloff) and El Secreto del Dr. Orloff (The Secret of Dr. Orloff/Dr. Orloff's Monster), both helmed by Naschy's Spanish compatriot, Jess Franco.
DVD REVIEW & Comparison with WOLFMAN
The Alpha Video DVD is not in Alpha's catalogue anymore (ever since, at least, 2002). Instead, Front Row Entertainment has released the exact contents of the Alpha DVD, including the Alpha main screen. Front and back cover below:
Bijouflix released a two disc VCD of the cut version of the title, while some time ago Spain issued a Super-8 version of the film on four reels, 180 meters, in color and sound:
The Different Versions
There are several versions of LA FURIA DEL HOMBRE LOBO worthy of consideration as each has at least one element that is distinctive. This may seem to compound the difficulty of assembling a "totally uncut" version, but this review will be a template for such an enterprise should someone desire to make such a meritable attempt. This review, however, cannot be considered complete, as other versions may exist, containing other minor variants, and the dialogue in the Spanish version certainly warrants more study. There are four primary versions I will deal with in my analysis:
1) The Spanish version released by Unicorn Video years ago and out-of-print.
2) The Alpha Video DVD version, which is considered the non-nude TV print variant of the film. This version is similar to ones the company released in video form once upon a time and the English-language version released by Unicorn, also once upon a time. 16mm prints of this version have appeared on eBay.
3) The Charter video release, likewise out-of-print, which contains alternate nude scenes. This was the release commonly available in the United States and for a while was considered "uncut."
4) The "Wolfman Never Sleeps" English language variant, sourced from a rare Swedish video, which contains even more nude scenes than the Charter version!
As of this date, the Swedish version is the most complete of this title, so we'll start with a look at this version and work our way from there. Unlike all previous video/dvd versions, this variant is available in widescreen format, though still not full using the 2.35:1 dimensions of the original Techniscope framing. Freed up from pan-and-scan, the film obviously takes on new dimensions. The running time clocks in at a misleading 1:23:06 (nearly a minute shorter than the cut version!), which is accounted for by the increase in frame-rate of the presentation.
WOLFMAN NEVER SLEEPS, though, is not fully integral. The film deletes the entire beginning narration, starting at a point slightly later in Daninsky's car ride through the mountains with the credit: "International Film presents". Unfortunately, half of the narration in the Charter version is missing! The full narration, a translation of the one in the Spanish version, is: "When the heliotrope starts growing among rough rocks and the full moon shines at night, in a certain area of the earth a man turns into a wolf." The Charter version, which contains the visual information that accompanies the narration, is silent until: "In a certain area of the earth a man turns into a wolf." After Waldemar Daninsky is back home, two very minor edits occur. When a bare-chested Waldemar stands looking out of the window, a shot of the sky has been cut; a minute or so later, a shot of a reflecting lake that ends his nightmarish dream of his Tibetan experiences is also missing. These two cuts were probably made because the content is curious: the sky shot doesn't look anything like a night sky during a thunderstorm, which is occurring outside, and the reflecting water (a shot that seems to be lifted from LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO) is an odd transition. [There are more curiosities concerning this reflecting lake shot: In the cut Alpha and Unicorn versions of the film, a close-up of the pentagram on Daninsky's chest dissolves smoothly to the reflecting water, but in the Charter version the dissolve is missing; the shot comes up instantly. Furthermore, in the Alpha and Charter versions, there is a bad edit to from the reflecting water to the subsequent shot of the university at which Waldemar teaches; the change is clumsily done, with a hint of an obscure fame and a second of a black screen. In the Unicorn video version (which is the censored version), this rough transition has been deleted, creating a well-done edit from one scene to the next.]
The Spanish version contains dialogue that is different and, at least in one case, missing from the English-dubbed version. More study needs to be done regarding the Spanish audio track, but this is what I was able to pick up from a brief sampling. After Ilona slaps Karen for suggesting that she is still obsessed with Daninsky, Ilona embraces Karen, asking for forgiveness, and, in the Spanish version, addresses her as "carino"--dear one, beloved. This accentuates the Sapphic, or Sapphic-tinged, relationship between the two. In the English dub, the line is simply, "Oh, Karen, oh, Karen, please forgive me." Later on, when Daninsky is wired up and in torment with radio waves pounding into his brain, the Spanish version has an over-dub of the Tibetan priest warning him about the pentagram (the audio is taken from the Tibetan nightmare Danisky has at the beginning of the film). In the English dub, these lines are missing, replaced only by the pained moans from Daninsky. Here, again, a important plot element is diluted, as it is Ilona who is behind the transformations of Daninsky into a full-fledged wolfman, and this shows how she is reinforcing his Tibetan experiences in his subconscious. Incidentally, all versions have the same print damage in the cellar transformation sequence before Ilona begins whipping Daninsky.
A definitive edition must embrace all these variants. Perhaps the best way to do so would be a presentation of the Spanish original, employing accurate English subtitles, with inserted nude scenes from the uncensored English version if no such elements can be found in a hitherto unseen Spanish-dub. An English audio track should be an option, as the voices used are quite good. (Whoever dubbed Ilona nailed her temperament down perfectly; the dubbing for Naschy is excellent also, voicing a person sympathetic and slightly bewildered.) Right now it is important that all original elements be located and saved from the ravages of time. Spanish vault elements are particularly important here. Spanish government and cultural institutions should be solicited to this end, and Swedish government and film institutions should be contacted regarding the WOLFMAN NEVER SLEEPS version. Indeed, a worldwide search for elements of this film is warranted, given its dismissive long-thought public domain status that could leave its variants abandoned in inadequate, even harmful, storages areas. This mind-boggling masterpiece must be saved!
Screen Capture Comparisons
WOLFMAN NEVER SLEEPS version
Alpha Video's DVD
The two screen captures tell obvious tales: the full-frame version, while having better clarity, is painfully pan-and-scanned, eliminating much information. Throughout the full-frame version, individuals who share a frame on opposite sides in the scope version, lose one of the participants. Note, however, that the top/bottom framing is basically the same. The image on WOLFMAN NEVER SLEEPS is slightly squeezed in, and since bootlegs are sourced from a Swedish video, there is Swedish subtitling on the screen, though kept below the majority of the bottom of the picture frame.
The Extra Nude Scenes
Besides the important aspect ratio difference, the WOLFMAN NEVER SLEEPS versions contains two nudes scenes unavailable in any other known presentation. One occurs after Ilona whips Daninsky. Ilona approaches Daninsky, who at this time has been completely transformed into a wolfman, slips off the top portion of her dress, and the two share an embrace and fondlings. A side view of Perla Cristal's left breast is momentarily visible. The other nude scene occurs toward the end of the film when Waldemar and Karen share a bed after roaming the Wolfstein castle in search of a way out. (It must have been tiring walking around the castle!). Both of Karen's breasts are shown when she lies back on the bed.
The New Spanish Divisia DVD
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