Cast: Paul Naschy (Waldemar Daninsky), Amparo Munoz (Mina), Jose Maria Cafarell (Dr. Jeremy), Javier Loyola (Bigary), Eva Isanta (Kinga), Rosa Fontana (Elsa), Jesus Calle (Demange), Alicia Altabella (Barbara) 
Director: Francisco Rodriguez Gordillo
Screenplay: Jacinto Molina
Photography: Manuel Mateos
Music: Jose Ignacio Cuenca, Tomky de la Pena
Production Company:
Videokine (Spain)

Running time: 91min.

U.S. theatrical release: None

Video: None, but bootlegs available of Spanish version, English screener, and English-subtitled Spanish version


Review: Granted, there are some nice touches in this film. For the first time, computer morphing is used in a Naschy movie, and however briefly it shows up in the finished film (only several seconds, in fact), it is done to maximum effect and worth waiting for. Nevertheless, the film is burdened by several problems, chiefly the decision on the part of director Francisco Gordillo to de-emphasize the horror aspects of Naschy's screenplay and eliminate any sexual content. The sorry result is a Naschy wolfman film without "bite," one that could easily receive a PG-13 classification and be played on the Sci-Fi Channel with minimal or even no cuts. Naschy fans have always enjoyed the nudity and gore of his films (which is why they hunt down the uncut versions), and this puritanical angle is a BIG mistake. Naschy himself is aware of this difficiency, correctly calling the film "a decaffinated movie for general audiences."  

The other problems: The English dubbing, while generally good, falters terribly with the main character, Waldemar Daninsky. The strangled, high-pitched tone of the actor dubbing Naschy is a wincing embarrassment, sabotaging Naschy's performance whenever he speaks. If ever a DVD release of this film becomes actualized, viewers may want to move over to the Spanish language option real quick, even if they don't understand the language.

It is difficult to tell whether the choice by Naschy to streamline the supernatural element of his screenplay (this is the first Daninsky film that does not involve other supernatural beings than a wolfman) is a mistake, since director Gordillo did much damage to Naschy's screenplay, favoring a suspenseful, psychological approach that generally falls flat in his ham-fisted hands. Naschy informed this reviewer that much was cut in the original script to his dismay, including an overtly fantastic ending. Also cut, in the non-supernatural sphere, was a love scene between Daninsky and Mina, the doctor character played by Amparo Munoz. Pity that Gordillo withdrew the sexual passions of an older couple from the screen, as that would have given a much needed middle finger to the tyranny of only seeing the young in congetal bliss.

These changes and alterations in the script caused Naschy to become understandably depressed during the shooting of the film, and indeed the legendary Spansih horror actor does look burdened by the proceedings and not his usual virile self. The choice of hair style and gray/silver coloring do not help to invigorate him, and make him look at times like Claude Rains. Tellingly, Naschy looks at least a decade younger nowadays than in this woeful 1996 film.

Yet, however uninvolving, the film has its moments: There is Naschy, of course, trying to bravely course a performance out of the mess he is in (and, unfortunately, not succeeding at times, as there was little guidance from Gordillo). Naschy's make-up is excellent, and the score by Jose Ignacio Cuenca and Tomky de la Pena is cool, atmospheric and emotional when it needs to be--and available on CD.

LICANTROPO also has the most pathos-inducing and moving moment in any Daninsky film. Coming at the moment when the wolfman realizes that he has been freed of his curse by a bullet shot by the woman who loves him, and relying on the look in Naschy's eyes and a subtle nod of his head, it is a beautiful moment in not only the film, but the entire Daninsky canon. Amparo Munoz handles this scene wonderfully, too, replying with sincere emotions to her act of mercy.

Though economical, the production is generally handsome looking, reminding one, at times, of a Full Moon Production, particularly in the use of colors and a partial synthesized score. The splendid poster art produces a striking, modern effect that furthers the handsome sheen surrounding the movie. There was talk of Videokine continuing to make films with Naschy, but seeing as how Naschy has dissed them in interviews over LICANTROPO, that seems an unlikely possibility. Currently Naschy promises to make another Daninsky film soon, one that would end the saga on an appropriate Romantically gruesome level. Learning his lesson a very hard way, Naschy is also intent on directing the film himself, so that his vision can be transcriped onto the screen with accuracy and fidelity, something that obviously Gordillo was not able to do.

Source prints: Two videos were used for review: the English screener, and a tape made from a presentation of the film on Spanish TV.

-- Mirek

Spanish poster