Mike Hodges Reports From Spain....
Writer, reviewer, translator and blues aficionado Mike Hodges gives us
 the inside scoops from Spain


NEWEST REPORT
Dispatch date:
Feb. 21, 2008
Given that Christopher Lee has for several years been loathe to take part in events that perpetuate his perceived "typecasting" as a horror movie star, one of the inducements to attract him to attending last September's Estepona Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, organized by Paul, was the promise that he would be able to regale the audience at the closing night ceremony with songs from his latest CD, REVELATION. I asked Naschy if the actor had been offered a similar "bait" to guarantee his appearance in MI PERRO AQUILES. Something in my tone must have expressed a certain trepidation because Paul burst out laughing and replied, "No, he won't be singing. Why? Is he that bad?"

Paul also told me something about the latest short he made (though not the title, which he couldn't recall off the cuff). His participation had ended the day prior to our conversation. He told me: "It was directed by Angel Gómez Jr and it's more of a mediometraje than a short. The story's about a guy who falls in love with a beautiful girl and starts having really weird nightmares. He becomes unbalanced, tries to kill the girl and ends up committing suicide in a rather spectacular way. But then he comes back as a kind of ghostly presence." Shooting took place in Algeciras and Tarifa, near the Rock of Gibraltar.

On a more negative note, he told me that he was disappointed that he hadn't been sent copies of the latest of his films released on DVD for which he had done commentaries, though he didn't specify if he meant US or Spanish releases. However he was interested to learn that one of his own personal favorite movies, EL HUERTO DEL FRANCÉS (THE FRENCHMAN"S GARDEN) has been made available to the public via an online site specializing in rare and hard to find titles. Zero Day Media has provided a sterling service over the last couple of years selling a large number of obscure titles on DVD-R format to desperate collectors who had given up hope of locating gems of Eurohorror (including several Naschy pictures), giallo, sexploitation and British film and TV horror rarities. El HUERTO...costs three pounds ninety five, including free postage worldwide. The site claims that picture quality rates 6/10 and audio 8/10, and they're usually pretty accurate with their ratings. More info here:

www.zddvisualmedia.com/in...res&seek=J

[More information has been received about ZDD, and this company is, as expected, a bootlegger, and the quality of their product varies. EL HUERTO DEL FRANCES has not yet received an official DVD release. Buyer beware, in other words. - Mirek, webmaster.]

Dispatch date:
Aug. 23, 2007
A few more details about PRIMAL FEAR/TERROR PRIMARIO. It's being directed by Christian Molina, who directed ROJO SANGRE, and is a co-production with a German company. Naschy plays a small town mayor who goes around murdering foreign immigrants. Not a very PC stance for a TV show, to say the least, but massive illegal immigration is a new and ever increasing phenomenon in Spain and associated problems like the increase of delinquency and violent crime and the rise of Hispanic gangs like the Latin Kings and the Ñetas in Spanish inner cities is currently fuelling a heated social debate about the government's immigration policies - or perceived lack of the same. The series comprises twenty episodes and Paul's first days on set are apparently scenes of him carrying out his murderous activities.

Paul also informs me that the proposed movie from his screenplay MI PERRO AQUILES is set to start filming next November in the historic city of Toledo, south of Madrid.

Dispatch date:
April 9, 2007

After speaking about the imminent start of filming on LA GAVIOTA, Paul told me about the following project he's setting up for a proposed September shoot.

 

"I'm just finishing the script of a new movie titled MI PERRO, AQUILES (MY DOG, ACHILLES). It's a story of magic and mysticism in the Spanish tradition and incorporates important characters from Spain's history, such as Santa Teresa de Jesus. I play the protagonist, a hermit who lives alone with his dog. The man is always talking to the animal and sharing his philosophy of life which he has built up from his long years of experience in the world, until suddenly the pair find themselves crossing paths with a sinister gang of murderers who sell organs from their victims so that rich clients can have transplants. It's the traditional tale of Good versus Evil as the hermit and his dog take on the gangsters, using the power of White Magic."

 

Paul also mentions that the film will contain a homage to H.P.Lovecraft as the writer of the "Necronomicon," the Mad Arab Alhazred plays a part in the proceedings. Although the film is set in the present day, the hermits "command of mystic techniques" allows him to travel into the past, where he meets both important characters from the history of the Catholic faith in Spain and fictional mystics like the aforementioned scribe of Lovecraft's "Book Of The Dead."

 

Apart from starring in the movie, Paul plans to direct it himself on location in the historic city of Toledo, which he says has "a fabulous atmosphere." Auditions have been taking place to find the titular canine star (not "Zeus" from ROJO SANGRE and ROTTWEILER!) but a medium sized mongrel. As to the human cast members, Paul says he prefers to work with relative unknowns, claiming that audiences are less willing to 'suspend disbelief' with a cast of name actors.

 

Over at the britishhorrorfilms.co.uk website, Paul was recently elected to the forum's "International Hall Of Fame," the first annual ballot of members to find their top ten personalities from the world of horror outside of the UK. Predictably, most of those chosen were Americans, apart from Dario Argento and Bela Lugosi. Voting went to a tie break between Naschy,Lon Chaney Snr,Tod Browning and Robert Bloch. After further voting it was stalemate between Naschy and Chaney, so both were duly included in the Hall Of Fame.

Dispatch date:
Oct. 13, 2004
I spoke to Paul a couple of days ago, he gave me some gen on a new stage production:

"I'm currently rehearsing for a new play called EL TRIUNFO DE LA MUERTE. It's inspired by the medieval concept of the 'Dance Of The Dead'. It's hard work but I'm really looking forward to 'treading the boards' again. I have fond memories of my last play..."

As in that previous production, ('Las Mujeres Fragrantes',an original  take on Dorian Gray)  the new play comes within the bounds of the "fantastique". Says Naschy, "It's basically a two hander. I star as Death and I share the stage with Saturnino Garcia, who has to confront his mortality. It's a bit like Bergman's movie THE SEVENTH SEAL, you recall that the protagonist in that played chess with Death (Max Von Sydow, if I remember right). The story has a certain similarity but it's rather more original. When I first read the libretto I really loved it."

Naschy's co-star Garcia first hit the 'big time', after decades of supporting roles, in JUSTINO, UN ASESINO DE LA TERCERA EDAD (1997) as an ex-bullfighter turned serial killer. He may also be familiar to Eurohorror fans from appearances in DAY OF THE BEAST, SOLO SE MUERE DOS VECES (YOU ONLY DIE TWICE) and, indeed, ROJO SANGRE!

But having just two main characters doesn't mean that the play is at all minimalist. "It's a really spectacular production," says the man. "We'll have live horses on stage, as well as all the characters in the traditional 'Dance Of The Dead' legends, from Kings and bishops to tumblers and jugglers, the whole medieval spectrum."

The play is scheduled to open in the Spanish capital next month. 

Another new DVD joins the ranks of Naschy films released on disc, although maybe only for absolute completists. It's AQUI HUELE A MUERTO, a horror 'comedy' starring popular Spanish comics "Martes y Trece" (Tuesday 13th, the traditional "bad luck" day in Latin countries). However the starring duo are out of their element on the big screen (like so many successful TV double acts) and their clowning and word play is merely irritating in this. Naschy has only one short scene as an East European Police Commisar. He pops up again at the denouement among the 'fake' monsters as , what else?...a wolfman. But the long shots of his character are handled by a double and Naschy only appears briefly again taking off his mask. As noted in the Memoirs, it was an attempt to repeat the Abbott & Costello formula of halfwits vs monsters - one scene is practically a carbon copy of the old "revolving door in the wall" routine from A&C MEET FRANKENSTEIN - but this is just "so bad it's unwatchable"!

Better catch LATIDOS DE PANICO - curiously not yet on sale in Spain (?)


Dispatch date:
April 28, 2004
The release last Friday of ROJO SANGRE to cinemas throughout Spain was preceded by a good deal of media interest. The principal monthly Spanish film magazines carried one or two page features on the shooting of the film. Paul Naschy and Bibiana Fernández appeared as guests on the evening prime time chat show 'Lo Más Plus' on Thursday 22nd April (the show is broadcast for subscribers to pay channel Canal + and repeated, unencrypted, the following morning.) The 9.30 evening news on TVE 1 on Saturday 24th April plugged the movie and featured a short interview with Naschy (TVE have a financial participation the film, so it will probably be telecast several times in the not too distant future, as happened with LICANTROPO).

Unfortunately, despite the build up, ROJO SANGRE looks like suffering from the same patchy distribution which dogs the majority of Spanish productions. As an example, here's a run down of the situation in the Autonomous Community of Galicia, a region with one of the highest cinema screen/per capita ratios in the country.

Total population -- around three million inhabitants.

Total number of cinema screens -- one hundred and ninety two.

Screens showing ROJO SANGRE -- three.

There are seven major cities in Galicia - the four provincial capitals- La Coruña, Pontevedra, Lugo and Ourense, the Regional Capital- Santiago de Compostela, El Ferrol (birthplace of the dictator Francisco Franco) and the industrial port of Vigo. Of these major population centres only one multiplex in La Coruña and one in Vigo are showing ROJO SANGRE.  The only other place where moviegoers can see the film is in Narón, a residential suburb of Coruña.

All of which is hardly encouraging for Naschy fans. On the other hand, if you've been counting the seconds for the latest SCARY MOVIE sequel (haven't we all......?), then you're spoiled for choice; SCARY MOVIE 3 is currently showing at no less than fourteen screens around Galicia. In equal first position is HERMANO OSO/BROTHER BEAR. The second place goes to STARSKY & HUTCH, on at eleven screens, THE PASSION OF CHRIST, ten, DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, eight, SCOOBY DOO 2, six. The only other major Spanish film on release is Pedro Almodóvar's LA MALA EDUCACION, showing on six screens (now in its third week). The city of Vigo has a total of 34 cinema screens and a population of some 450,000 people. Currently they can see SCARY MOVIE 3 at three different downtown cinemas, PASSION OF CHRIST at two and STARSKY & HUTCH at another two. However, while these movies get three (or in some case, four) daily showings, ROJO SANGRE has only two performances, at 17.45 and 20.30. In Narón the first performance is at 16.10 with a second at 18.15. Then the screen is used for showings of another picture ('Duplex') at 20.30 and 23.00. Things are slightly better in Coruña with a whopping three (count 'em!) showings of ROJO SANGRE at 17.45, 20.30 and 23.00.

With distribution like this, it's no wonder that only a small minority of Spanish movies ever make any money!


Dispatch date:
Dec. 30, 2003
I spoke to Paul on December 23rd and here's the latest from the horse's mouth:

I finally got round to asking Paul about his first live theatre experience in LAS MUJERES FRAGRANTES (well, better late than never!):

"Wonderful," he exclaimed, "a really enjoyable experience. We did some fifteen performances in all and it was getting a great reception. Unfortunately, just when it was planned to take the show on the road, I got the offer to go and work in the States, so I just couldn't commit myself to a six month tour and had to pull out. I spoke to the director and he was very understanding, agreeing that it was a unique opportunity that I shouldn't miss."

An opportunity which Naschy still remembers with affection:

"Don and Fred are such charming people, I really had a fantastic time working with them both. THE UNLIVING has a strange personality of its own, you know, even though it's a homage to my movies with Waldemar and Countess Bathory, it has a different quality, a more American feel that sets it apart from the films made in Europe. Now that could be a bad thing in some ways. After all, the wolfman is a very European legend but I think THE UNLIVING benefits from a more 'flashy' approach - it's certainly got a charm of its own."

Enthusing about the forthcoming ROJO SANGRE, which is set for release in Spain late February/early March 2004:

"Christian Molina is an excellent director. Although it's his first feature, watching him work you'd think he was a seasoned professional with fifty movies under his belt! He has such style and vision, he's got more talent than many directors working today" (no names, no pack drill!) "I'm really proud of this film, I believe it'll mark a kind of 'before and after' in my career."

Since finishing his stint on the film, Naschy has been kept busy. In October he was in France for a special homage at the Montpelier Film Festival and was also honoured by the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris with showings of LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS, EL RETORNO DEL HOMBRE LOBO, EL GRAN AMOR DEL CONDE DRACULA and EL JOROBADO DE LA MORGUE.

"They were excellent 35mm prints, dubbed into French. I stayed in the famous hotel where the Lumiere brothers gave the first ever public cinema projection, it's a really impressive 19th century building. I got to meet the directors of VIDOCQ and BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF, who were both very nice guys."

Speaking Of Wolves, Paul tells me the latest Daninsky script is finished.

"It's called WALDEMAR--PLATA MORTAL (DEADLY SILVER), a strange blend of three elements, taking in the werewolf legend, the war in ex-Yugoslavia and Gaudí's weird architectural style .The story opens with a full scale Balkan War battle scene between Serbs and Bosnians, with tanks, helicopters, the works. Then the action moves to modern day Barcelona with the backdrop of Gaudí's famous buildings. The only link plot-wise to the previous wolfman pictures, of course, is the presence of Waldemar Daninsky. As you know, I decided at the start not to follow the Larry Talbot sort of 'continuing story' route, I chose to give Waldemar the scope to appear in different geographical locations and time periods, I think that's far more interesting."

It seems that many would agree with that. Recently Televisión Española broadcast LICANTROPO for the third or fourth time (as one of the movie's financial backers TVE obviously have a vested interest in airing Paul's least favourite Daninsky film). Paul told me in disbelief: "Since it was on the other day I've already had about ten or twelve letters from viewers and all but one of them praised it to high heaven! I just don't know what to think!"

While waiting for the release of RED BLOOD, Paul is keeping busy writing. "I'm currently working on a new script for a ghost story."

More news as it comes in.....


Dispatch date:
Sept. 25, 2003
My latest chat with Paul took place on 25th September 2003. We started by discussing the filming of BLOOD RED.

"Principal photography finished shortly before the opening of the Estepona Festival," Paul told me. "There's a lot of post production to be done, mainly due to the extensive CGI trickery they have to add on."

As most of you will know, the plot is about a fading film star, by passed and forgotten by the current showbiz establishment. His frustration is compounded by seeing the rise to fame of talentless idiots who become instant celebrities thanks to worthless prime time tv fodder "reality shows" (eg Big Brother et al) and "Kiss and tell" scandalmongers who make big bucks out of revealing intimate details of their relationships, real or made up, with people in the limelight. Just at present Spanish TV is awash with such "Junk TV". So our "hero" decides to go out and slaughter the offending personages while disguised as such savoury characters from history as Giles de Rais, Ivan the Terrible, Jack the Ripper, et al. Despite a more than passing similarity to the plotline of Naschy's 1988 masterpiece HOWL OF THE DEVIL, Mr Molina denies any resemblance.

"BLOOD RED has nothing to do with that film, this is a scathingly ironic, ferocious attack on current trends in the mass media and also a vitriolic dig at the 'Goya' ceremony."'

Obviously the movie is unlikely to be a contender for one of the aforesaid awards!

"If there was any justice in the world," remarks Naschy, 'this film should take plenty of them. I saw the teaser at Estepona and it looks just great. The audience reaction was terrific. It's a first rate, top quality picture, with a budget of 800 million pesetas." (Most of us here in Spain still tend to think of large sums of money in terms of the recently defunct currency instead of the new legal tender, the Euro).

All of the killer's victims are played by actors - there aren't any cameos by real "celebrities" playing themselves, which might have added marquee value.

"No, it would have been daft to have these people in the movie when the whole thing is precisely a far reaching critique of all they represent."

The movie also classifies for inclusion in the "fantaterror" bracket, as not only are there bloody serial killings but the supernatural is also central to the story.

"It's a pretty complex film in fact. Apart from the social comment angle, there's also a take on Faustian mythology. The protagonist sells his soul to the Devil in order to carry out his revenge. The Devil here adopts the guise of a businessman who makes snuff movies. The protagonist witnesses his own daughter being killed during the making of a snuff movie."

Stills from the set of BLOOD RED revealed females in states of undress, although the star says that there's not much nudity on display.

"No, no, there's hardly any nudity at all, and only in the snuff scenes. On the other hand it's really violent and very scathing."

The film is produced by Canónigo Films of Barcelona (headed by the producers of SCHOOL KILLER) and Naschy reveals that thanks to their interest, THE UNLIVING is not the last we'll see of Waldemar Daninsky!

"Fred Olen Ray (who was a guest at Estepona last week) gave me a videotape of THE UNLIVING and I enjoyed seeing it. It's a worthy little picture, obviously not comparable to THE CRAVING, THE BEAST AND THE MAGIC SWORD or WEREWOLF SHADOW, but it's far better than LICANTROPO. I failed with that one due to the crummy director cocking it up, it was awful. This one's slightly kitsch but with plenty of charm, it's well worth a look. Surprisingly there's not as much erotic content as I'd expected - Fred has gone more with the legend of the wolfman. He tells me he's going to shoot more scenes of werewolf attacks. He shot plenty of close ups of me in action which he'll use in those scenes. Now I'm writing a new Daninsky script, the film I want to finish the saga. Then I'll call it a day. This one will definitely be the last."

Once the latest Daninsky script is finished, Naschy plans to complete work on a detective thriller script, (tentatively titled FADE TO BLACK until I pointed out that there's already a movie by that title - "So, I'll change it, no sweat") in which he'll be the star.

"I've decided that from now on I'll only take starring roles. I'm through with doing bit parts and cameos. Once you get into that rut you never get called to do anything else. I don't intend to go down that road."

MUCHA SANGRE finally goes on general release in cinemas throughout Spain tomorrow, September 26th. But Paul is already looking ahead.

"BLOOD RED is going to be far bigger and better!" he promises.


Dispatch date:
April 13, 2003
April 9th 2003. I've just spoken to Paul for the first time since he got back from L.A. He was really enthusiastic about his experience of shooting in the States and the treatment he was afforded by everyone he met there - "They were all very polite, respectful and affectionate," he says. Explaining wife Elvira's bout of illness Paul recalls: "She started feeling bad during the flight and had to go into hospital with stomach pains as soon as we arrived. I had a very tight schedule and the first couple of days I was due to be working on preliminaries such as wardrobe and make up tests and so on, so it was fortunate that Sergio was here to accompany his mother while I was tied up with those commitments." Luckily Elvira made a quick recovery from her gastroenteritis and Paul was able to get on with his work without the added anxiety of a sick spouse. Although he only spent a couple of weeks Stateside, the time was put to good use. "I can't tell you exactly how many days I spent on each of the two films," he admits, "everything happened so quickly, and it was so intensive, we were shooting something like fourteen hours a day and so the memories get a bit fuzzy.". In the COUNTESS DRACULA movie, Paul speaks his lines in Spanish - evidently these must be monologues because when I enquired he told me, "no, none of the other characters speak in Spanish, only Padre Jacinto." However in THE UNLIVING Paul delivers all his dialogue in English. "It wasn't as hard as I'd expected," he says; "I was able to memorize about half my lines, and for the rest I had cues."

Apart from filming, the highlight of Paul's U.S. trip was his visit to the famous "Ackermansion," where he signed Forest's first edition of DRACULA and got to take a butcher's at some of the memorabilia on display. "I'd met Mr. Ackerman before at the Manchester Festival of Fantastic Films. He's got an amazing collection - the robot from METROPOLIS, one of the ones from STAR WARS, Lon Chaney Sr's fangs....." and, as mentioned in Paul's memoirs, Waldemar Daninsky's shirt from LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS. though Paul was unable to view the garment since Forest has apparently been obliged to part with a large number of items, including said shirt.

Paul's penultimate feature film, MUCHA SANGRE, should go on release in Spain "very soon" according to director Pepe de las Heras, who told me he's pushing to get a large number of copies distributed to ensure that the movie gets seen throughout Spain, not just in the provincial capitals. The film, which Paul accurately sums up as a hilarious cross between Tarrantino-style action and Peter Jackson gore gross-out, has been tipped by some pundits to do for Paul Naschy's career what PULP FICTION did for John Travolta! Fingers crossed....

SCHOOL KILLER has been released on DVD as part of a cut price collection (available at newsagents) comprising twenty recent horror titles (including both Spanish movies and foreign ones) selling for just ten Euros each disc, as opposed to the "recommended retail price" of twenty-four Euros for the same disc at regular stores.

Looking to the future, Paul's next movie is "in the works." The script (penned by Mr. Molina) is called BLOOD RED and tells of a "humiliated, washed up actor" who gets so pissed off seeing the increasing numbers of talentless, shameless, good-for-nothing cretins who become media celebrities that he decides to go on a slaughter spree, killing them off one by one while disguised as various fictional characters. "Una comedia diabólica" is how your man describes the story which will hopefully be produced in Spain (tentatively starting in September) by some of the people behind SCHOOL KILLER.


Dispatch date:
Nov. 30, 2002
MUCHA SANGRE, in which Paul plays "an alien gangster boss" is getting great reviews following it's premiere to standing ovations at last October's Sitges Festival. FANGORIA editor Tony Timpone, who saw the movie in November at the 13th Annual Horror And Fantasy Film Festival in San Sebastian, Spain, told me: "I especially liked MUCHA SANGRE, with a career comeback performance from Naschy!"  In the opinion of the critic writing in IMAGENES magazine Paul gave "a sublime performance", though the actor himself modestly claims "I think that's pushing it a little bit too far, but there's no doubt about it, for this film I'm getting the best reviews I've ever had as an actor. Tony Timpone loved it so much he went to both screenings."

Speaking about the new stage play LAS MUJERES FRAGANTES, Naschy says: "The play opens on the 10th of December. Jose Luis Garci (the Oscar winning Spanish movie director) says I must be crazy to take on something like this at my age, but I think you have to accept the challenge to do something new. In actual fact at first I wasn't really decided but when I sat down and read the play I jumped at it. I even turned down a movie which was to be shot in France just so I could do this. The hardest thing about doing theatre is having to memorize your lines for the whole play. It's very different from making movies. It's a totally new experience for me and it's a big responsibility, I hope I'm up to it and I don't let people down. Fortunately I'm surrounded by some excellent stage actors and it's a pleasure to work with them."

The play is a reworking of THE PORTRAIT OF DORIAN GRAY but it's not a "straight" adaptation. "No, I'd describe it as more psychological, almost philosophical," says Naschy who plays the leading role in the production. "Undoubtedly my participation will be a big draw; I'm sure people who have only ever seen me in movies will be curious to see me treading the boards."

Apart from rehearsals for his stage debut, Paul has been busy in another medium - he has a regular slot on a popular night time (appropriately) national radio show CITA CON PILAR in which, once a month, he gives the insider's view on the subject of films and moviemaking. He also continues to be in the limelight in print. A new movie magazine EL CINEFILO chose none other than Marilyn Monroe and Paul Naschy as the featured stars for the inaugural issue. The 13 page feature includes a brief career retrospective, a complete filmography and 12 quarter page reproductions of the Spanish posters from the star's best known horror movies.


Dispatch date:
January 27, 2002
[Due to troubles with our server, we were not able to upload Mike's newest "Report" until February 23rd, almost a month late. Since the report was first sent, there have been new developments regarding Naschy's possible appearance in Frontline films, which included script concerns. -- Mirek]

I was recently contacted by Donald F.Glut about the possibility of Paul Naschy appearing in "one or more" of what he describes as "very sexy low-budget horror and fantasy movies" made by his small independent company Frontline Entertainment (http://www.frontlinefilms.com) To date they have made three features -- DINOSAUR VALLEY GIRLS, SCARLET COUNTESS (DVD/video title: THE EROTIC RITES OF COUNTESS DRACULA) and THE MUMMY'S KISS (out on DVD/video in April).

Glut says that he's been a big fan of Naschy since seeing MARK OF THE WOLFMAN (as FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR) in a theatre in 3D. He compares Naschy to Christopher Lee as "the last of the great horror films stars".

Glut and his partners want Naschy to appear in one or more of their upcoming movies. They have plans to make three movies in 2002, and hope to have secured financing for the first film shortly.

Paul's initial reaction was encouraging as we Naschy fans could have expected from a man who just loves to practise his craft and shows no sign of slackening the pace. Some of the actors who have already worked with Frontline include Karen Black, William (Blacula) Marshall, Richard Lynch, William Smith and Ed Fury.
Nothing definite has been settled yet, but it seems to be a promising development. Glut is conscious of the way Naschy's fine voice has often been dubbed with far from satisfactory results in the past and says he contemplates designing a role for Naschy in their next slated production, tentatively titled CRIMSON TEARS (a sequel to THE EROTIC RITES OF COUNTESS DRACULA - William Smith, who played Dracula in the first film, will return in that role for continuity) as a Spanish character who speaks Spanish (with English subtitles). It is proposed that Paul play a Catholic priest in the Old West segments of the movie. The character's name? "Padre Naschy." ! 2002 could be the year that Paul Naschy finally makes his debut in an American movie.....fingers crossed!


 
Dispatch date:
March 7, 2001
I phoned Paul today and when he answered he told me he'd been inundated by reporters since the morning... I could hear wailing sirens in the background. It turns out that an apartment block situated in calle Alberto Aguilera, right opposite Paul's own building, collapsed at around 10am, killing one person and trapping several others in the rubble. 'I heard an almighty racket, like an explosion, it went on for about five minutes,' Paul told me. It seems that some building work was being done inside the block and eye witnesses say that they saw workmen fleeing from the place in a blind panic shouting out 'it's coming down!' Field hospitals have been set up in the middle of the street to treat the injured and the emergency services are still searching through the debris in an attempt to dig out possible survivors. The causes of the disaster are not yet known.

Some 'lost' Naschy footage from the seventies has recently come to light in an Italian archive. Naschy shot some five minutes of a strange movie called ATAUDES DE LUZ (lit. 'COFFINS OF LIGHT') with an eccentric fellow named Sergio del Monte. Apparently this guy was a documentary film maker who was into occultism and belonged to a sect of sun worshippers. He was obsessed with 'the evil of solar rays' and was searching for some process that would allow him to 'film the truth'. Apparently for the film with Naschy he had a special kind of film stock prepared in Eastern Europe which was treated with a special, chemically altered emulsion. Legend has it that those who saw the test footage developed blindness and died of brain tumours (!) Following threatening phone calls, supposedly from fellow sect members, del Monte was killed in a still unresolved ritual murder in 1974. The fragments of his film were stashed away in an archive in Italy under a false name until the organisers of the San Sebastian Fantastic Film Festival came across them while searching for a print of Jorge Grau's NO PROFANAR EL SUENO DE LOS MUERTOS. Spanish film maker Nacho Cerdá has interviewed Naschy and others who knew del Monte for a special documentary which will be shown at next year's San Sebastian Festival along with the restored 'lost' footage....

 


Dispatch date:
Dec. 3, 2000
I've just spoken to Jesus Franco about Naschy's role as Orloff. He tells me that the movie, a remake of his own 1961 classic GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (aka THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF) is scheduled to start filming in March 2001 near Torremolinos and in Bahesa (province of Jaen), which he describes as "a very picturesque town with some striking neo-classical architecture." The film is a Spanish-British-US coproduction and the cast will be headed by Naschy, as Orloff, Caroline Munro and Lina Romay. The plot will follow the original but there will be a surprise "which I can't tell you about otherwise it won't be a surprise," says Franco. There have been rumours ever since Franco's KILLER BARBYS back in 1996 that GRITOS was going to be remade with none other than Christopher Lee as the mad medico, although Franco now says he never contemplated Lee for the rôle. When asked about this "colaboración histórica" between two of Spain's foremost horror auteurs (which the ever-jovial Franco punningly describes as "colaboración histérica") the director explained, "My ideal casting for the part of Orloff was originally Udo Kier. But when the opportunity arose to film it with Paul Naschy it seemed ideal."


Dispatch date:
Nov. 17, 2000
SCHOOL KILLER starts location shooting on Monday 20th November 2000. Filming will take place over approximately two weeks in an abandoned hospital for tuberculosis patients situated in Villaviciosa, up in the Madrid sierra (it's not the same place as the 'Walpurgis Sanitarium' incidentally!) The crew will then move to a studio in Madrid for the five weeks principal shooting. The movie is being produced by Christian Molina de Villanueva, an enthusiastic genre fan who's over the moon to be working with Paul Naschy, and will be directed by Argentinian born Carlos Gil. Gil has previously worked as second unit director and first assistant director on Spielberg's two Indiana Jones sequels and on HIGHLANDER III: THE QUICKENING as well as directing a serial for Spanish TV. Apart from Naschy, the cast will comprise young talents who are big names in Spain for their roles in top rating TV series, such as Carmen Morales, Olivia Molina (daughter of actress Angela Molina - no relation to The Man!) and Carlos Fuentes. The story concerns a group of teens investigating the dark deeds which took place 37 years ago at the school where their respective parents were pupils. A series of gruesome murders were blamed on the school's watchman (Naschy). The narrative alternates between the present and the past as the kids piece together what really happened, and it turns out the watchman or rather, his ghost, is still up to his old tricks.

Paul is really excited about this project. "It's going to be the best horror movie ever made in this country' he assures me. "this isn't your run of the mill low budget B movie. It's a grade A picture and a whole lot of money is being invested in it. The script is exceptional, it's really frightening. I've seen some test footage of stabbings and beheadings and it's really chilling, it looks so real. These people really know what they're doing, we've got a director who's worked with Spielberg and Ridley Scott and their heart is really in this. It's a golden opportunity to resurrect the Fantaterror genre in Spain."


Dispatch date:
October 11, 2000

 

Paul just got back from Munich where he spent a terrific three days. He tells me that the event, organised by German film magazine 'Movie Stars' was a tremendous success. Naschy was the object of the weekend's homage and says that the English translation of his autobiography sold well and that there was some interest in publishing a German language translation too. Of his reunion with Gaby Fuchs he says 'I was quite surprised, after thirty years she still looks beautiful and in great shape'.

Although the proposed series of love stories has fallen through, Naschy has signed a contract for what he terms 'a substantial amount' committing to EL VIGILANTE-THE WATCHER. Naschy says of the script (written by Tino Blanco and Mercedes Holguera)'it's an exceptionally good script, such as you only come across once or twice in a lifetime. It has all the makings of a huge box office hit and scope for a sequel. I'm not at liberty to give any details of cast or crew, except to say that the movie will be produced by a company called 'De Orilla a orilla'.

Shooting is scheduled to start on November 25th, but meanwhile Naschy may be off to Asturias to appear in a film short based on Poe's 'Tell Tale Heart'.'I'm thinking it over' he assures me, 'although really I could do with a sabbatical!'

BULLFIGHTERS IN SPACE ('La Cuadrilla Espacial') has been made specifically for Internet and will be launched in November. There are 21 episodes split into two five minute segments. Episodes will be shown weekly. There is a possibility that the digital recordings may be broadcast on Pay Channel Canal+ TV at a later date. More info at www.ruedoproducciones.com


Dispatch date:
October 6, 2000
Three of the key figures in the history of Spanish horror cinema were recently brought together for the inaugural act of the "First International Fantasy and Horror Film Festival Of Estepona", held between 11th - 16th September 2000.

The top trio consisted of Spain's ‘numero uno' international horror star (and latest ‘Fangoria Hall of Fame' inductee) Paul Naschy, the prolific, globe trotting, maverick cult director Jesus Franco and Narciso Ibañez Serrador, best known abroad for helming two influential horror features LA RESIDENCIA (aka THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED, 1969) and ¿QUIEN PUEDE MATAR A UN NINO? (WOULD YOU KILL A CHILD?, 1976). Serrador, who incidentally is the son of regular ‘Golden Age' horror actor Narciso Ibañez Menta, was also responsible for introducing horror to Spanish TV back in the sixties with his celebrated series of classic horror story adaptations HISTORIAS PARA NO DORMIR.

The affluent Mediterranean holiday resort of Estepona, on Spain's cosmopolitan ‘Costa del Sol' already hosts the mainstream ‘Festival of Spanish Film' which celebrated its thirteenth edition this year. This new initiative, apart from showcasing the best of the nation's past genre output in the ‘Spanish Horror-Fantasy Retrospective' section also presented a few films (from the USA, Japan, Italy and Spain) in competition - the number of movies competing for the Silver Unicorn awards is expected to grow as the event becomes consolidated. A host of special screenings and complementary activities were organised at Estepona's new multi-purpose Conference Centre and Exhibition Hall, while the main movies were screened at the downtown Veracruz cinema.

The week kicked off with a tribute to Naschy, Franco and Serrador who each received a Golden Unicorn Award in recognition of their importance in the history of the genre. The spontaneous rapport between Naschy and Franco put paid to the persistent but unfounded rumour that the two have maintained a bitter feud for many years. Serrador's gothic flavoured LA RESIDENCIA, starring Lilli Palmer, John Moulder-Brown (from Hammer's VAMPIRE CIRCUS) and Mary Maude (Mike Raven's victim in CRUCIBLE OF TERROR) was chosen to open the retrospective cycle, while the first film in competition was an American production - the controversial independent feature ROCK 'N' ROLL FRANKENSTEIN. This movie had been rejected by more than one ‘underground' Festival in the U.S. where it polarised critical opinion, evoking either vehement loathing or enthusiastic kudos from Stateside reviewers. The film was introduced in Estepona by its director Brian O'Hara to an unsuspecting audience among whose ranks sat the Conservative Mayor and several City Hall officials. As the irreverent, OTT story about a reanimated patchwork rock-star suffering a sexual identity crisis got into its outrageous stride the bemused dignitaries' embarrassment was clear to see. Someone less impressionable in the audience was Jesus Franco. I asked his opinion of RnRF after he'd sat through the whole 88 minutes. ‘A load of crap' he replied, echoing the very phrase that many people have used about his own movies over the years. ‘What's more, if the creature is supposed to have the hands of Jimmy Hendrix,' expostulated Franco, a competent jazz musician, ‘then he should play guitar like Hendrix!' Although this was patently not the case, O'Hara's movie was given the Silver Unicorn in the Best Music category.

Anyone who has visited Spain will know the crucial place that food occupies in the life of the country's citizens, so on Tuesday the guests were treated to the first of a series of special lunches.The menus comprised dishes taken from or inspired by famous movies, such as Roast Duck in Sherry Sauce (from Hitchcock's THE BIRDS) or Curried Langostines (‘Fu-Manchu's favourite'). When someone expressed the doubt that the Oriental master criminal would ever have eaten such a dish, Franco responded: "Don't forget that Fu-Manchu was Christopher Lee and I've seen Chris eat plenty of curries!" The afternoon's retrospective showing was Naschy's EL CAMINANTE (THE TRAVELLER, 1979) a stylishly photographed medieval morality play telling how the Devil hits the road in human form to enjoy a spot of serious debauchery and incite some big time villainy (adultery, robbery, assault, rape, torture, murder etc.), only to discover that Man's wickedness surpasses even his own evil. The organisers ensured that all the movies included in the retrospective section represented the career best for their respective directors and it was a real treat to see these films in excellent 35mm prints.

In the evening there was a tribute to the Festival's special guest of honour, Caroline Munro. Following the presentation of her Golden Unicorn Award, aficionados got a rare opportunity to enjoy a big screen showing of a movie that never had a theatrical release on either side of the Atlantic, HOWL OF THE DEVIL (1988), in which Munro played a voluptuous, scheming femme fatale who finally gets her comeuppance thanks to the Black Magic dabblings of Boris Karloff lookalike Howard Vernon who summons the spectre of murdered horror star Alex Doriani (Naschy - who else?!) and all hell literally breaks loose. Caroline presented the movie on stage with translation by her co-star in the picture Sergio Molina (Naschy's son, then 13 years old). The fond memories and affection they have for each other was plain to see. Caroline had never the film before and after the showing commented to me, ‘It's pretty strong stuff, isn't it?'

The day's award contender was Fidel Cordero's LA FABULOSA HISTORIA DE DIEGO MARIN, a gentle fantasy about an illiterate 17th century shepherd who dreams of flying but has to contend with the fears and superstitions of the local yokels who are bent on preventing him from building a Leonardo Da Vinci style flying machine of his own invention. The film is technically polished and female lead Alicia Borrachero's impressive performance earned her a Silver Unicorn. According to the director, the hardest job he faced on the movie was collecting the 2,000 plus vulture feathers needed to cover the contraption's wings, a labour shared by family and friends over the space of several weeks.

The first of the two Spanish fear flicks shown on Wednesday was Franco's atmospheric monochrome chiller GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (aka THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF, 1961) which reviewers regularly compare to George Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE, although Franco himself told me he had been aiming for a cross between Robert Wise's THE BODY SNATCHER (1945) and the British made Lugosi vehicle DARK EYES OF LONDON (US title, THE HUMAN MONSTER, 1939). This was followed by WOULD YOU KILL A CHILD?, a chilling tale about a couple of English tourists who are hunted down, tortured and murdered by the children in a sunny southern Spanish holiday resort. The next day, due to a mix up with the transport, Caroline Munro and I found ourselves left wandering the sweltering, dusty backstreets of Estepona under the gaze of a number of scruffy youngsters who watched from the shade of darkened doorways - an experience which conjured up uneasy echoes of Serrador's harrowing movie!

What was undoubtedly the biggest budgeted film in competition was also one of the scariest. RING 0: BIRTHDAY directed by Norio Tsuruta is a prequel to Hideo Nakata's acclaimed RING and RING 2. This unsettling, claustrophobic tale of supernatural vengeance provides the backstory to the events detailed in the two previous films, achieving an atmosphere of fear and unease through suggestion rather than shock tactics or lots of gore. Though a good film in itself, with a genuinely frightening ‘ monster' whose face is never seen, it does tend to undermine the strengths of Nakata's pictures by trivialising the original premise behind them. In any case the film was well received by all those who saw it and went on to pick up the Silver Unicorns for Best Film, Best Director and Best Special Effects.

The complementary activities also got underway on Wednesday with the inauguration by top comic book illustrator Alfonso Azpiri of the ‘Comics and Fantastic Literature Fair'. There were also demonstrations of role playing games such as the well known ‘Magic' and fantasy wargames like ‘War Hammer' which are becoming increasingly popular in Europe. One of the galleries housed a special exhibition on Paul Naschy's career including a large number of foreign posters, rare stills, lobby cards and props, including the ‘Mayenza Cross' featured in the Waldemar Daninsky saga and the titular silver katana from THE BEAST AND THE MAGIC SWORD (1983). Also on display were the thirty odd international awards the actor has accumulated during the course of his lengthy career, the most recent being the Carl Laemmle award which he received in Washington D.C. in July. In another part of the Exhibition Hall visitors could see many of the costumes, weapons and props designed by Spanish specialist Cornejo for the recent blockbuster movie GLADIATOR. Apart from items in display cases, there were a couple of actors in Roman togs mingling with the public. It was quite a shock to meet a Praetorian Guard coming out of the gents clutching his mighty chopper!

After lunch the following day (calf's kidneys in parmesan sauce from MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, the cinemagoers' patience was put to the test with the Italian film IL DELITO DI VIA MONTE PARIOLI, an unremarkable murder mystery which hardly warranted inclusion in a genre festival. Then there was the launch party of a new book specially commissioned for the occasion entitled LAS TRES CARAS DEL MIEDO (THE THREE FACES OF FEAR, which examines the careers of the Spanish ‘triumvirate of terror' as well as reappraising the importance of the Spanish horror fantasy genre within both the national and European cinematographies. The authors of this excellent tome include such literary heavyweights as current Secretary of State for Culture Luis Alberto de Cuenca, prize winning novelist Juan Manuel de Prada, eminent film scholar Adolfo Camilo Díaz and Gilbert Verschooten, film critic and founder of the Brussels Fantasy Film Festival. Having made short shrift of the wine and the hors d'oeuvres, it was off to the Veracruz for the Spanish premiere of the American Sci-Fi opus SUPERNOVA. The film had caused great expectation and the cinema was already jam packed with impatient patrons by the time the celebrities arrived. However, audience reaction once the projection had finished endorsed the worldwide ‘thumbs down' that must make this lamebrained movie a serious contender for the next edition of the‘Golden Raspberry Awards'.

The final day offered the chance to see five very different films. The first was Buñuel's celebrated silent short, ‘Le Chien Andalou' (1928), the zenith of surreal film making. The famous close up in which a man slits open a woman's eyeball with a razor blade still makes audiences wince and the scene where another literally wipes the smile off his face is quite startling.

Immediately afterwards came EL RETORNO DEL HOMBRE LOBO (aka THE CRAVING, 1980), an elegant and highly atmospheric Gothic romance, and the tenth in the Waldemar Daninsky-Wolfman series. DP Alejandro Ulloa's lush cinematography was shown off to maximum effect in an excellent print of one of Naschy's best self directed films.

Next, director Juan Pinzás came up on stage to introduce LA LEYENDA DE LA DONCELLA, the last film in competition. It's a stylishly made picture with high production values and a first rate cast. The ever effective veteran Fernando Guillen (ACCION MUTANTE) who plays Don Rosendo, the local Squire, makes an effortlessly menacing villain in an original tale of lust, greed, humiliation, and murder. In the depths of rural 1930's Galicia, (northwestern Spain) the peasants are revolting. But when they seek release from their corrupt and brutal overlord's exploitation by means of witchcraft they get more than they bargained for. The story, penned by Pinzás, is based on an actual Galician legend and the film faithfully recreates the period, the visual treatment at times recalling the almost anthropological documentary style so beloved of certain Italian directors. It's unfortunate that the theatricality which pervades the ‘fantasy' sequences undermines the effect somewhat - the wicked witch looks like someone badly made up for a Halloween costume party. But on the whole LA LEYENDA DE LA DONCELLA is an interesting, original and entertaining movie. D.P. Tote Trenas won the Silver Unicorn for Best Photography and Pinzás took the award corresponding to Best Original Script.

The last movie shown in the retrospective was Franco's worthy but dull, multinational, ‘true to the book' version of EL CONDE DRACULA with Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Klaus Kinski, Soledad Miranda, Jack Taylor, Maria Rohm, Jesus Franco and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all.

Much more interesting was a rare presentation of a newly restored print of F.W.Murnau's 1926 silent masterpiece FAUST. Spanish film director Luciano Berriatúa undertook the restoration for Filmoteca Española (the Spanish National Film Archive) under the auspices of the European Union's MEDIA programme. His brief was to restore the film to the form in which it was shown on its original German premiere. In order to avoid the inevitable loss of quality which duplicating film negatives entailed back in the twenties, UFA had opted to have Murnau shoot material for eight different negatives, by filming the same takes several times on two cameras. Instead of just repeating identical takes time and again, Murnau took advantage to introduce improvements and refinements, especially in the abundant special effects sequences. On a couple of the negatives, for example, the bear which appears in one scene is actually a man in a skin, whereas in other versions it's a real bear. Thus the prints shown in France were quite different to those seen in Germany ("As the French had been the enemy in the Great War, UFA probably sent them the worst version" jokes Berriatúa) and the versions released in the U.S., England and Scandinavia were all different again. The Spaniard had to travel to Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Los Angeles to gain access to original materials and after three years painstaking work had finally restored the ‘director's cut' which Murnau had prepared for the German release. This landmark film (‘it had the same impact in its day as STAR WARS had in the seventies,' points out Berriatúa) was projected at Estepona to the accompaniment of Frederick Hensel's original piano score for Faust, performed by concert pianist Sandra González.

Saturday's closing gala and awards ceremony included showings of some Méliès shorts, also with live piano accompaniment, an amateur theatre group's zombie dance routine and a magician whose powers of prestidigitation unintentionally brought back memories of the bumbling Tommy Cooper. There were a number of speeches from local politicos who all concurred that this first Horror and Fantasy Film Festival Of Estepona had been an unqualified success, publicly pledging their enthusiastic support to make the second edition bigger and better. Placed somewhere between the increasingly ‘mainstream' Catalonian International Film Festival held in Sitges and the more youth oriented, grass roots Horror and Fantasy Film Week of San Sebastian, Estepona looks fair set to grow from its very modest beginnings into becoming an increasingly important date on the European horror-fantasy festival calendar.


Dispatch dates:
Sept. 7 & 8, 2000
Paul Naschy wishes to convey his heartfelt thanks to all his American friends who sent him birthday greetings. He celebrated the Big Day by lunching out with family and friends, followed by a well earned siesta--it was the first day since returning from the USA that he had free from filming, as shooting has just wrapped on the zany BULLFIGHTERS IN SPACE Space' Sc-fi spoof which he promises is "absolutely hilarious, it'll really crack you up!" He also admits that consecutively filming several episodes of a TV show is far removed from the relatively leisurely pace of movie making. "We were working 14 - 16 hours a day, it was pretty exhausting." He is now working on preproduction of the series of love stories which he is to direct. They are to be a number of stand alone TV movies rather than an ongoing serial.

Everything is set for next week's "I Festival Internacional de cine de terror y fantástico de Estepona". Apart from Paul Naschy, guests will be Spanish directors Narciso Ibañez Serrador, Jesus Franco and Caroline Munro. Two movies by each are to be shown in the Spanish Horror Fantasy Retrospective ; GRITOS EN LA NOCHE (aka THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF) and EL CONDE DRACULA (Bram Stoker's COUNT DRACULA) by Franco, LA RESIDENCIA (aka HOUSE THAT SCREAMED) and ¿QUIEN PUEDE MATAR A UN NINO (WOULD YOU KILL A CHILD?) by Serrador and EL CAMINANTE and RETORNO DEL HOMBRE LOBO. Caroline Munro will receive an award followed by a special screening of HOWL OF THE DEVIL. The new sci-fi movie Supernova will get its Spanish premiere at the Festival. There was to be a big screen presentation of Edgar Neville's 1944 'classic' THE TOWER OF THE SEVEN HUNCHBACKS but apparently the rights owners are asking too high a price. However there will be a chance to view the rarely seen STATE OF MIND in which Naschy plays a sadistic prison warder....Apart from screenings and films in competition, there are also parallel events such as Comics fair, workshops (make-up, model painting, etc) a display of movie props and costumes (including stuff from GLADIATOR) and special dinners at which the Festival's guests will be served dishes from famous movies (hopefully we won't have "Butchered Villager à la Waldemar"!) If this festival is successful enough in its first edition it will certainly become an annual event. Paul tells me that friends of his who want to attend are having trouble finding hotel accommodation in or near Estepona since there are practically no vacancies. Let's hope they're all there for the same reason!

Update: Paul has just told me that he will be the guest of honour at a European horror film convention to be held Munich in October and organised by a top German genre publication. Also in attendance will be his one time co-star Gaby Fuchs. "She must be an old lady by now" says Naschy who seems amazed at the possibility of a reencounter all these years on.

Another book examining the works of Paul Naschy will be presented at the Estepona Festival. It's called LAS TRES CARAS DEL TERROR and contains critical overviews of the genre contributions of Naschy, Franco and Ibañez Serrador in the broader context of Spanish horror fantasy cinema. The book has contributions from Luis Vigil, Gilbert Verschooten, Luis Alberto de Cuenca (current Secretary of State for Culture in Spain) among others.


Dispatch date:
June 12, 2000
Paul Naschy's most recent feature film, Juan Pinzás' ERASE UNA VEZ has been chosen as the ONLY official entry to represent Spain in the next edition of the Moscow International Film Festival in July. Other Spanish productions will be shown in the 'International Panorama' section but ERASE UNA VEZ will be the only film of that nationality competing for an award. The film was chosen for its originality, being produced entirely within the strictures of the 'Dogma' movement's manifesto. Paul is disappointed that he won't be able to attend the Moscow event as the dates clash with Midnight Marquee's Classic FilmFest, and Pinzás, who was also hoping to accompany Naschy and yours truly to Washington is equally disappointed that he now won't be able to cross the Atlantic.

Naschy is currently enjoying something of a career revival at the moment. Apart from guest starring roles in films and TV series (the latest, EL COMISARIO, is currently being shown on prime time commercial TV), he has been commissioned to write the screenplays for and direct a series of ....wait for it....love stories! He describes the stand alone episodes as 'wonderful, uplifting, moving tales of love in its many different forms. As well as directing, I will act in one or possibly two of the episodes.' I asked if there would be anything Gothic or fantastic in any of the episodes to which he replied ' no, there won't be anything like that in these shows. There might be just a little suspense, a little of the thriller style in certain stories but nothing more. I want to make one of them as a kind of remake of Blue Angel....' The series is being produced for a new outfit called 'Fashion Flash S.A.'

Another project which is just starting production and which will include Naschy in the cast is what he describes as ' a really zany comedy sci-fi series.' The show is being made for pay channel Canal+ and tells of the exploits of a group of intergalactic bullfighters surfing the universe in their spaceship in search of new planets where they can stage their 'corridas' since, as Naschy explains 'it's the year 3,000 AD and bullfighting has been banned in Spain' (and presumably South America, too).

Naschy is well pleased with all the work which has been coming his way and especially since 'the best thing about it is that I'm not just being called on as 'the horror man' any more...'


Dispatch date:
April 3, 2000
Last Friday night (31st March) I went with Paul to the premiere in Santiago de Compostela of Juan Pinzá's ERASE OTRA VEZ, the first Spanish 'Dogma' movie. He was bleary eyed and hoarse and suffering the onset of 'flu as the result of being up all the previous night shooting the final scenes of LA GRAN VIDA, starting at 7pm and finishing up around 5am in temperatures of near zero! After a measly couple of hours sleep it was off to Barajas airport to catch the plane to Santiago, which finally left after a lengthy delay. A quick lunch, a round of interviews and off to the premiere along with director Pinzás and the entire cast,the customary photo calls, signing autographs, a speech of introduction (he got the biggest ovation of all those present), two hours watching the movie in the city's most historic (though frankly chilly) cinema,followed by a cocktail party until the small hours....and not a single word of complaint from Mr. Naschy who remained good humoured and ever ready to chat with admirers and sign autographs. As I drove him back to the hotel he said apologetically 'I'm sorry we couldn't stay longer Mike but I'm afraid I have to get some rest, I feel dreadful....' At sixty five the man's still one hell of a trouper! Also it was the first time I'd met his wife Elvira, and what a lovely, absolutely charming lady she is too.

Naschy's rôle is quite short but he appears in scenes at the beginning and reappears at the end of the film. He plays a decidedly sinister character, a foul mouthed, bad tempered gardener in the employ of a celebrated young writer who's organising a reunion party for his university pals ten years on. The gardener vehemently resents having to take orders from such well off yuppy types and in one of the scenes he proclaims "You know what I'd do to the whole f***ing lot of you if I had my way ..." as he brandishes a lethal looking scythe, leaving no room for doubt whatsoever! There's also an in-joke near the beginning, when the character tells his boss that he's not going to work any more that day "I'm going to see the doctor" he lies, "I'm getting pains in my gall bladder..." Of course the scene was shot just three days after Naschy was discharged from hospital following his actual gall bladder operation!


Dispatch date:
April 16, 2000
On the 18th of March Paul Naschy is to be guest of honour at the latest Annual Comic Fair ‘Salon del Cómic' held in Madrid over the weekend. A special display of previously unpublished photographs along with lobby cards and English and Italian posters for Naschy movies has been prepared covering 60 square metres of floor space. Special events will include the presentation of the Joordu company's Waldemar Daninsky resin bust and screenings of La Marca del hombre lobo, Inquisición, El jorobado de la morgue, and La bestia y la espada mágica. There will also be what Naschy calls ‘a special surprise' at some point during the two day event and fifteen of the world's top comic book artists will be on hand to sign autographs, eight from the U.S. and the rest from various parts of Europe.

The landslide victory of the governing Partido Popular at last Sunday's general elections ensures that the Estepona Film Festival will go ahead as planned next September. Caroline Munro is to be Guest of Honour and will receive a ‘Golden Unicorn' award for her contribution to genre cinema. There will be a number of Silver Unicorns awarded to the best films shown in competition and a retrospective section is also planned. Among those present at the Festival will be Naschy scholars Luis Alberto de Cuenca, Luis Vigil, Fernando Alonso Barahona and the Belgian Gilbert Verschooten, president of the International Fantastic Film Society and editor of Fantoom magazine.

Paul also informs me that he has resigned from his post as general coordinator of the Lumiere cultural association. The Waldemar Daninsky award will be now be presented at a seperate event later this year.


Dispatch date:
Jan. 17, 2000
Fantasy figure sculptor José Orrego's company JOORDU is to produce a 1/4 scale resin bust of Paul Naschy's Waldemar Daninsky as seen in the 1996 film LICANTROPO. JOORDU have already produced resin busts of ‘imaginary' fantasy characters, (including a ‘Nosferatu' style vampire which Paul was impressed with) and full figure kits of various demons, ogres and zombies but now Luis Emilio Hernández Agüe, editor of the only fantasy modelling fanzine in Spain, ‘Fantplastic', informs me that Orrego plans to launch a series of figures based on Spanish Horror Fantasy movies. Luis tells me work has already begun on the Daninsky bust with a cast being taken of Naschy's face. Following the release of the LICANTROPO bust, which Alberto Santos, the Spanish publisher of Naschy's memoirs has requested should be ready for next March to tie in with a film festival being held in Madrid in that month, will be a full body figure of Alaric de Marnac-Giles de Rais from the cult movie EL ESPANTO SURGE DE LA TUMBA/HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB. Other projects from JOORDU include a figure of the ghostly Doctor Sabatino as played by Guillermo Marín in Edgar Neville's 1944 Spanish fantasy classic LA TORRE DE LOS SIETE JOROBADOS/THE TOWER OF THE SEVEN HUNCHBACKS and possibly one of Amando de Ossorio's Zombie Knights Templar from the famous ‘Blind Dead' series. For more info on the company and photos of previous JOORDU figures check out: www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/corridor/4217/joordu/index.html


Dispatch date:
Dec. 14, 1999
I spoke to Paul this afternoon (14th December), he says he'll have finished the new chapter of MEMORIAS DE UN HOMBRE LOBO by next week. Here's what he says about it: "For the American version I've decided to tell the truth about a lot of stuff I had to hold back in the original, things it wouldn't have been advisable to publish in Spain. I want my American fans to know what I've had to put up with for so many years."

[Naschy went on, speaking about his current activities.]

"Shooting on MUCHA SANGRE been held up due to lack of money. Hopefully filming will resume in the not too distant future. We did six weeks filming - six or seven weeks- in Almeria but we had to break off because of financial problems. You know, it's practically impossible to get a penny out of official bodies to put into 'cinefantástico' projects in Spain (although two acclaimed Spanish genre pictures currently on release in Spain - LOS SIN NOMBRE and NADIE CONOCE A NADIE - were partly financed by the departments of culture of the respective autonomous regions where they were filmed - M). Do you know how much they've spent on promoting (Oscar nominated director Pedro) Almodóvar in the States? Well I'll tell you. Almost five hundred million! (pesetas) [about three million dollars if my calculations are correct - M.] It's a shame because the movie was shaping nicely, it had it all, action, suspense, gore, explosions, alien creatures, really great SFX.... It was like working on an big budget blockbuster. It's taken three years for the project to get this far. They started out on a budget of 200 million pesetas and they're already up to something like 500 million! Let's hope filming can recommence soon...."

Naschy recently attended the Festival de cine de terror y fantástico de San Sebastián where he met up with Spanish horror directors Juan Piquer (SLUGS, CTHULU MANSION), Eugenio Martín (HORROR EXPRESS), Narciso Ibañez Serrador(THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED, WOULD YOU KILL A CHILD?) and Jesus Franco.

A photo of the event in a Spanish movie magazine showed a beaming Naschy with one arm round Franco's shoulders and the other linked with that of Serrador (the son of actor Narciso Ibañez Menta seen in RETORNO DEL HOMBRE LOBO,and who claimed that Naschy never paid him for his appearence in that movie!) Over the years Sr.Molina has had his ups and downs with most of these film makers but it seems that time has mellowed them all. "It was great" he says recalling the event "we all got on very well. I'd never had any dealings with Eugenio Martín at all. As for Piquer, well we've had our differences in the past but on a purely social level we get along ok. The same goes for 'Chicho' (Serrador). As for Jesus Franco, you know there was all this talk of us being rivals and bitter enemies and so on, and yet I'd never even met the fellow! All that stuff is a lot of nonsense made up by the press or rather by certain so-called film critics. I may not like the guy's way of making movies but I've got absolutely nothing against him personally."

Paul also mentioned ÉRASE OTRA VEZ (literally ONCE AGAIN UPON A TIME) "As you know ÉRASE OTRA VEZ is the very first Spanish 'Dogma' movie" he explains. 'Dogma' refers to a decalogue of 'rules' for making movies devised by a group of Danish directors led by Lars Von Trier. According to these rules the use of artificial lighting is forbidden, as are tracking and crane shots, musical score, and even the inclusion of the director's name in the credits. Juan Pinzás has added another rule of his own which will apply to all Spanish 'Dogma' pictures : "The plots must reflect the sociocultural reality of modern day Spain." The plot of this one narrates the reunion of a group of university graduates ten years on. "My rôle in this was a sort of 'guest star' part. It was more than a cameo, I had quite a lot of screen time although as I wasn't the main star of the show I don't know what the chances are of appearing in any follow up."

Naschy's 'Death Wish' style movie LA NOCHE DEL EJECUTOR has been shown twice in the same week on terrestrial TV here in Spain, although its star/director laments the TV guides' lack of coherence when dealing with his films. "In one paper they gave it two stars, in another paper only one star, but the summaries made it clear that they hadn't even seen the film! It's the lack of profesionalism that really cheeses me off..."

On a more positive note, it seems that the Spanish critics and film historians are at last starting to acknowledge the true worth of messrs Naschy, Aured, Klimovsky et al. In an article in Imagenes magazine critic Angel Sala writing about the San Sebastián event states: "The retrospective provided a unique opportunity to view Spanish genre cinema once and for all in its true perspective.....The names of Naschy and Ossorio deserve a place in any dictionary of popular culture...If we've spent years championing hokey (and occasionally downright shoddy) B movies made by Roger Corman, Edward L.Cahn or even the garbage perpetrated by Ed Wood or Alan (sic) Adamson, why not admit the virtues of certain homemade productions which often outnumber their defects? The answer probably lies in the obstinate insistence on the part of certain critics to exercise their biceps rather than their brains, beleiving that criticism is synonymous with destruction and that recommendation is synoymous with submission."

So it looks as if after all this time attitudes are a-changing. As Naschy says "It took them long enough!"


Dispatch date:
July 7, 1999
I spoke with Paul this morning (7th July) and found him in high spirits and keeping busy.

"I can tell you that MUCHA SANGRE is going to get made after all," he enthuses. The Spanish movie magazine "Fotogramas" erroneously reported back in October 1997 that MUCHA SANGRE, described as "an action-fantasy/comedy" had started a five week shoot on location in Almería under the direction of Ramón Heres and Pepe de las Heras for Dirus C.A.S.L. productions. However it seems that after a nine month delay, the movie is now really going ahead.

"Preparations are well under way and filming should begin in October," says Paul. "I don't like to get my hopes too high because you never know what could go wrong and I don't like to tempt the Devil, but it's 85% certain that the film will get off the ground this time round. The cast is the same as before ( Naschy, Rodolfo Sancho, Mª José del Valle, Carlos Lucas, Julio Campos) except for Alex Ángulo (Acción Mutante, Día de la bestía) who's pulled out, I don't know why but I suppose he's asking too much. You know the guy's done a TV series and now he thinks he's Brando...."

What's it all about?

"It's a blend of dark humour and gore, about a bunch of gangsters, sort of Tarantino type hoodlums who in the end turn out to be aliens from outer space. The script's really great and I think it'll be a brilliant movie. I play the lead of course" he points out--as if there were any doubt......

Also on the horizon is another short film project called RONDADORES NOCTURNOS (NIGHT PROWLERS). "Again, I'd rather not say too much about that in case it doesn't happen," admits the oft-bitten, now shy Naschy, "but it's due to be made on location in Asturias". For the more geographically challenged of you, Asturias, or to give the place its due ‘El Principado de Asturias' is a verdant, mountainous region on the Cantabrian coast (northern Spain) and it was actually Naschy's first choice as El Hombre Lobo's homeland. As we know, the Spanish censors frowned on an Iberian werewolf so the wolfman had to be a Pole by the name of Waldemar Daninsky.

Another possible project is a collaboration between the Spanish star and Mexican director (for want of a better word) Rene Cardona Jr. "Cardona got in touch with me recently," relates Naschy, "to talk about the possibility of doing a movie. He wants to do a sequel to his Bermuda triangle picture." The film in question is Cardona's "Triángulo diabólico de las Bermudas" which he wrote and directed back in 1978, described uncharitably in one movie guide as "Awkward and shoddy. Utter nonsense." Still it could be an opportunity for Paul to get a sun tan: "no, obviously it won't be made in Spain but in the Caribbean". Incidentally there's a Spanish expression "más listo que Cardona" meaning "Smarter than the Devil" (!)

Universal's Mummy opened in Spain last Friday (down at my local multiplex they're currently showing Gods and Monsters (screen 1), Talos the Mummy (screen 2) and The Mummy (screen 3). I asked Paul if he'd seen the so called ‘remake' of the Karloff picture. "I was invited to the Spanish premiere but unfortunately I wasn't able to go. Sergio has seen it and he loved it, he tells me it's great fun, more like Indiana Jones than a horror movie, but very enjoyable. I do intend to see it myself though. Sergio says the thing that he liked least about the film was the mummy itself, which seems to be the general impression."

Finally, following the recent Spanish municipal elections, Paul is somewhat concerned over the future of the Estepona Film Festival. "There could be a problem there.You know Gil's out and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) have regained control of the town council" he reminds me. Jesus Gil is a controversial figure. Ex-mayor of Marbella and president of the Atletico de Madrid soccer club, he's been accused on various occasions of laundering drug money, bribery, corruption, fraud, nepotism, and forgery, although his lawyers always get him off the hook .....on the other hand he's popular among ‘ordinary folk' for having cleared the streets of delinquents and prostitutes, sponsored countless cultural and sporting events, and putting Marbella back on the map as a top tourist resort with a resultant increase in local prosperity. "It's not clear what difference, if any, this change will make to the Estepona Festival," says Paul, "but I'm afraid it won't be for the better. From past experience I know how politicians can ruin events of this kind, it's unbelievable what goes on in this country." A case in point is how the Sitges Festival of Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, which Paul founded in 1968, has been hijacked by a bunch of pseudo intellectual posers from the Catalonian local government and transformed into a "more prestigious" mainstream event "The International Film Festival of Catalonia" with a bare minimum of horror and sci-fi pictures on the programme. "Let's cross our fingers and hope that they don't screw up Estepona ‘99," Naschy concludes.


Dipatch date:
May 14, 1999
I spoke to Paul this morning (14th May). He's somewhat reticent about the possibility of doing anything with Brian Yuzna or indeed Filmax. It seems they met previously at a Festival in Málaga and an associate of Yuzna's offered Naschy a part in a movie. Naschy agreed to be in it but, as we know, that film never got made or if it did it was without Naschy, who apparently never heard from the fellow again....

It's going to be a busy time for Paul Naschy. Tomorrow he's off to Soria for a film festival, next week he'll be receiving a tribute at the Festival de Cortometrajes de Albacete, and next Wednesday afternoon he'll be back in the studios of Televisión Española to record another Paul Naschy Special, this time for broadcast by satellite on TVE Internacional. He's confirmed the dates for the Estepona Festival as 6th to 14th November and asked for my assistance to organise the event. I also mentioned the possibility of his going to the States for the presentation of the autobiography and his response was an enthusiastic ‘I'd love to!'

He also tells me that filming is due to start on EXTRANOS CONOCIDOS in the first week of June. Naschy will play a police inspector in a cast which includes Paco Rabal and Beatriz Rico, and the director is Juan Pinzas.

The script of EYES OF THE WOLF is now complete and currently being typed up. The original working title of this screenplay was ‘Anubis' which had it not been changed could have cashed in on the current ‘Mummy mania' (incidentally the new Universal picture hasn't yet been released over here).


Dispatch date:
Dec. 22, 1998
Here's the latest from the ever impulsive Paul Naschy:

PN: I'm now writing the script of what will be the last Waldemar Daninsky film. I've just begun--in fact, I made up my mind yesterday (12/17/98) . As I've told you before (many times!-M.) they really screwed up LICANTROPO and I can't let the saga end that way. Now there is a chance of getting it (the new script) made. What I'd really like is to do a co-production with the USA but if that's not possible I'll make it with some other country.

MH: Apart from writing the script you obviously intend to star and direct it yourself...

PN: Of course! I'm pretty good at writing wolfman scripts and as for directing, well, I know more now than I ever did before. My only handicap is my age. I haven't got the physique of a young man any more, though I still lift weights and keep myself in pretty good shape. I'm sure I can do it!

MH: By the way, I spoke to Caroline Munro the other day, she asked me to give you her fondest regards.

PN: I adore Caroline, she's a wonderful person and great to work with as well as being an exceptionally beautiful woman. You know, you've given me an idea. I'm going to write a part specially for her. I'd love to work with her again.......

MH: Wasn't that the idea with NOSFERATU 2000 ?

PN: That's never going to get made! I don't believe a word of what Ling says.... Not that I wish him ill.... [For the sake of peace on earth and good will toward men, The Mark of Naschy site has edited down this answer.]

MH: How's the "Dracula" stage adaptation going?

PN: I'm still working on it, but before that's ready I'll be appearing in a film that starts shooting early next year. Last night I had dinner with Juan Pinzas (director of LEYENDA DE LA DONCELLA/LEGEND OF THE MAIDEN, voted best film at the 1996 Miami Film Festival) and he offered me the role of Chief of Police in his new thriller. I've more or less decided to accept it. Another project I'm keen to get off the ground is to publish a book of photographs. It won't have any text, just between 250-300 photos from my movies, from the first to the last, so it'll include a lot of material that's never been seen before.

Dispatch date:
Nov. 6, 1998
I've just spoken to Paul Naschy. He's in good spirits and as enthusiastic as ever about his current projects: putting the finishing touches to the script of TIRO DE GRACIA and a new theatre play.

"I'm in the middle of writing an adaptation of Dracula for the stage. It follows the Stoker novel pretty faithfully, except that I've changed the ending. I didn't think much of Stoker's ending, it wasn't spectacular enough, so I've changed it for something a bit more impressive. It's going to be an expensive production with a lot of special effects. I can't give you any details of the cast yet - well, I'll be playing the Count, of course! But first I've got to finish the writing before January, which is the deadline for applying for Ministry of Culture subsidies. All being well, we hope to open in October next year. I think it could be a big hit, it's unlike anything that's been done on the Spanish stage before. Actually, somebody did try to do Dracula on stage about forty years ago but it came to nothing in the end."

I've just got hold of a copy of Manga's Inquisición video at last. "It's not one of my favourites," Naschy told me, "but it's a good movie, it was more expensive to make than a lot of them, it involved a lot of costly period set decoration." I haven't had time to watch it yet but it sounds promising.


Dispatch date:
May 25, 1998
Here's the latest from Paul Naschy (22nd May 1998):

"I 've just finished filming on a new movie called ANIMAS (SPIRITS OF THE DEAD). It's directed by a chap named Daniel Ortiz, who's a newcomer to movies - but then again, aren't they all these days! The story of ANIMAS is based on the legend of Faust, although the treatment is more akin to the recent Al Pacino movie, PACT WITH THE DEVIL (I'm not sure whether that's the original US title,but I'm sure you know the one I mean-Mike). I don't wear any make up for my rôle as Lucifer, here the Devil is portrayed as a kind of high powered business executive, immaculately dressed and well groomed,very elegant and sophisticated..."

As you may already have guessed, ANIMAS is a thirty minute short, filmed in Torremolinos of all places (the favourite holiday destination of a large percentage of the more downmarket European tour operators) with a cast of three characters - played by two actors! Naschy emphasises that this is a "quality" film. "It's shot on proper 35mm film," he assures me. "Some of the best technicians in the business came down from Madrid to work on this production. I don't remember the name of the fellow who plays the other parts, but he's the one who starred in THE YOUNG PICASSO (a Spanish TV series made in 1996)- I think it's Toni something...anyway, he plays twin brothers and one of them sells his soul in exchange for power, wealth, success while the other brother has all kinds of problems."

It seems that Naschy's age is starting to tell: "It was a hell of a hard shoot," he admits. "We were on a very short schedule, filming practically non-stop and there was a great deal of location work that had to be done at night. It rather took it out of me..."

Apart from the new film, Naschy had news of several other projects.

What about the proposed International Waldemar Daninsky Award ? "Let me tell you about that," enthuses Naschy with just a hint of fanatiscm creeping into the voice. "The IWDA will be awarded anually to the best "Fantaterror" productions in three different categories: film, literature and comics. I already have the Spanish jury lined up and all of them are leading figures in Spanish intellectual circles. Right now Miroslaw is sorting out a five man jury in the U.S. and I'm also trying to organise juries in England and Germany..."

How's the new book going? "Work on the new book is well advanced. Obviously I have to write about Franco's films and those of Amando de Ossorio even though I personally don't like those movies one bit, but needs must! Incidentally I've been told that MEMORIAS DE UN HOMBRE LOBO is selling very well. Once the new book is out of the way I intend to write the script of the last chapter in the Waldemar Daninsky saga. I can't let it end with LICANTROPO. That inept, so-called 'director' just didn't have a clue what Naschy is all about, so it's up to me to finish the series with dignity. Still that's a little way in the future yet."

And there's more:

"Here's some really good news for all Spanish fans.The annual film festival held in the Spanish region of Estepona has plans to incorporate a "Cinefantastico" festival starting in 1999, and it'll be officially inaugurated with a showing of the recently restored print of LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS and a tribute to my career."

And more:

"Make sure you get a copy of EL PAIS newspaper on 29th May," Naschy tells me; "the weekend supplement carries a critical essay which I've written entitled "La Historía del Hombre Lobo en España".

And finally:

"Sidney Ling has been in touch with me again. He pitched me an idea for a movie called NOSFERATU 2000. I've heard nothing from him since so I suppose it was just another one of his famous brainstorms...."


PREVIOUS REPORTS
Dispatch date:
October 10, 1997
Paul made a film last year which hasn't received much publicity probably because it hasn't been released or even, as far as I know, finished. It's called LOS RESUCITADOS (THE RESURRECTED) and may be described as a cross between costume drama and Gothic horror. The only still I've seen from it shows Paul as a zombified cavalier (complete with plumed hat) throttling an unfortunate young man while a jeering footsoldier (played by rising Spanish genre star Santiago Segura) looks on in amusement. This is what Paul had to say about the production: "LOS RESUCITADOS was a strange set-up, directed by a peculiar young fellow (Arturo de Bobadillo). I always like to lend support to enterprising newcomers, for instance I've been in practically all the short films made by 'La Cuadrilla' (directors of the critically acclaimed JUSTINO: UN ASESINO DE LA TERCERA EDAD), but this one never really got off the ground. Sometimes you wonder why you get involved in these things. I haven't a clue what it was really all about and it was never finished, so that's one movie that'll never be listed in my filmography."

Latest news on the likelihood of more Videokine/Naschy collaborations--most unlikely for two reasons: a.) LICANTROPO hasn't even had a theatrical release in Spain!  b.) Paul told me he wasn't too pleased with the work of LICANTROPO director Francisco Rodriguez Gordillo. He felt he toned down the horror elements too much in favour of the film-noir atmosphere. He also said that he wants to direct the next Waldemar movie himself and then he'd happily let another actor take over the role if the saga was to continue!

In our last conversation (2nd October) Paul informed me that he is currently playing the part of a mafioso in a thriller now shooting in Madrid entitled EL OJO DE LA MEDUSA (literally EYE OF THE JELLYFISH). Simultaneously he's working on his autobiography, which means that progress on the Jules Verne adaptation (CARPATHIAN CASTLE) has been put on the back burner...

Also from the horse's mouth: Producer/director Stuart Gordon of RE-ANIMATOR fame has been in touch about the possibility of doing a movie with Paul in the States. No doubt they'll get together when Paul's in NY for the Fangoria convention....


Dispatch date:
October 31, 1997
On 17th October I spoke to Paul about his new movie, currently shooting in Madrid ,and to director Jose Martin Cabanach. The movie's called EL OJO DE LA MEDUSA (EYE OF THE JELLYFISH) and it's a crime thriller about a detective investigating the murder of his friend and colleague. He realises he's bitten off more than he bargained for when he crosses swords with a sadistic mafioso and ex guerillero from Managua (Naschy) who has an obsession with Russian Roulette.When the dick falls in love with the criminal's wife, he's forced into playing Russian Roulette in a nail biting and ultimately bloody finale.The director says he aims to recapture a 1950's flavour and the film's being shot partly in black and white. Locations include Madrid, Segovia and Paris though there is some little studio work--for example a special operating theatre had to be constructed for one key scene. The rest of the cast are newcomers--Javier Morales, Paloma Verino- and there's a certain amount of pyrotechnic effects in an ambush scene involving Naschy with the guerillas in Managua. Cabanach sang the praises of his star: "He's really in great shape.We spent two weeks shooting on location in the middle of the night and he never flagged. He's always contributing new ideas and he's really lives the part. He gives it his all and has no trouble keeping up with the rest of us and we're all youngsters! Paul really is at the peak of his creative career. For a director, working with him is an absolute joy. He does everything you ask of him and even improves on it".

Regarding LOS RESUCITADOS: I recently spoke to the new Spanish Horror star Santiago Segura who also was involved in this project and he told me that the film was the brainchild of a guy he'd known at college, Arturo de Bobadilla, whom he described as a kind of Spanish Ed Wood Jr. and totally insane, as well as a fanatical genre fan--he was collecting movies of "Santo, Man in the Silver Mask" long before anyone in Spain had even heard of them--so when he heard he'd actually got a movie in production, Segura agreed to do a couple of days work on it for old times sake--and to meet Paul Naschy. In his own words: "I was amazed that he'd actually managed to persuade a living legend like Paul Naschy to have anything to do with what was basically a cheapskate amateur effort. It was shot on Super VHS video with no synchronized sound,and the guy stood behind the camera shouting the lines for Naschy to repeat. When anyone asked him how the hell he was going to make a movie out of it, he just said: 'Oh, we'll dub it later' or 'we'll just add a few voice-overs and shoot a couple of inserts' or 'it'll all come together in the cutting room'! The truth is you just get carried away by the guy's madness! Anyway he's still messing about with the completed footage and he shows it to anyone in the hope that one day he'll make something of it. He even got a poster made and sent it to the French magazine 'L'Ecran Fantastique'!"

Paul's memoirs are due to be published soon in Spain.


Dispatch date:
December 12, 1997
More info concerning EL OJO DE LA MEDUSA

Naschy told Mike: "There's still a couple of weeks filming to do; I haven't done any work on it for the last week due to other commitments. The producers have compiled a montage on video of scenes already shot to promote the picture at the Young Film Makers' Festival in Zaragoza. I'm travelling down there tomorrow to inaugurate a section on cinefantastique which they've incorporated in the Festival for the first time this year."


Dispatch date:
January 2, 1998
Director Jose Martin Cabanach on EL OJO DE LA MEDUSA: "Principal photography has very nearly been completed. We have one action scene still to shoot, that's been held up due to the weather; it's a location shoot and we're waiting for the sun to shine! We hope to have post production completed by May. It's most likely that the movie will go straight to video. We're sitting on a deal for Spain and we're also hoping to have it distributed in the States, but I can't tell you anything more about that at the moment."

Looking beyond the current movie, Cabanach has a number of projects lined up with Paul Naschy: "We're looking at three scripts, two of them are horror movies and the third is a comedy, but it's 'black humor,' with elements of genre movies. No, it's not a pastiche, it's something completely original. We have a script for a 'no holds baarred' horror movie featuring a lycanthrope, but whether it'll be Waldemar Daninsky or not remains to be seen, but it seems likely. It's been agreeed that I'll direct one of the three projects and Paul will direct another himself, but we haven't decided yet who'll direct which picture."


Dispatch date:
January 21, 1998
I've just spoken to Arturo de Bobadilla, director of LOS RESUCITADOS / THE RESURRECTED. He tells me that the film is close to completion. Production was held up while he looked for more finance following the withdrawal of his original partners. This is what he said:

"I'm currently working on post production; we've some dubbing still to do as well the sound mix but I expect the film to be ready in about a couple of months. It's going straight to retail video. The script is a free adaptation of the works of (19th century poet Gustavo Adolfo) Bécquer. It's a swashbuckling period piece. I wanted to make it a kind of anthology film, but the period costumes and special effects took up so much of the budget that it's about three episodes shorter than I originally intended! Paul Naschy is great in the movie in the part of Lucifer, kind of a reprise of his character in EL CAMINANTE. I'm really pleased with the final scenes of the smoke shrouded Lucifer surrounded by the devils of Hell...."


Dispatch date:
April 17, 1998
I've just spoken to Paul Naschy.... I told Naschy I'd seen LICANTROPO at last. "Oh, no!" he groaned. "That should've been a great movie but the talentless idiot of a director screwed it up. You know I wanted to direct it myself but the producer insisted on giving it to his kid brother, so what could I do? He savaged my script--I never meant it to be a thriller; it was supposed to be a scary, gory horror movie, and it would have been if they'd listened to me, but I just couldn't get through to the director at all, everything had to be done his way. Don't forget we're talking about a guy who'd only ever directed one movie before, EL CEPO, which was absolute crap and he hadn't done a single movie since then. Nothing for 17 years, then he has to get his hands on my project! The only thing I liked about LICANTROPO was the makeup."

Naschy's new book will be a rather biased affair to put it mildly. He reckons that, "Apart from my own movies there has been hardly any 'Fantaterror' cinema made in Spain. I'll have to include a couple of that cheapskate Franco's turkeys but only a few of them can be described as 'cinefantastico'. You know, during my researches I've found out that a lot of the titles he lists in his filmography don't even exist! I don't know how the jerk gets away with it. But I'm having a hard time finding enough movies to make a book of it; (Eugenio) Martin made that one with Cushing and Lee (HORROR EXPRESS) and I'll include LA TORRE DE LOS SIETE JOROBADOS (THE TOWER OF THE SEVEN HUNCHBACKS, dir.Edgar Neville, 1944) although it's not really a fantasy film but I've got to write about something...."

I suggested people like Jorge Grau, De Ossorio, Eloy de la Iglesia, Ibañez Serrador, to which he replied, "Grau only ever made one horror movie. De Ossorio made those three zombie films and bloody awful they are too. I'm only including LA NOCHE DE LAS GAVIOTAS (NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS) in the book, and he can count himself lucky."

Alex de la Iglesia, Agustín Villaronga, Santiago Segura, Alberto Sciamma, Alejandro Amenábar...?

"DIA DE LA BESTIA isn't 'cinefantastico' at all, it's just a comedy, a well made comedy but that's all. As for Segura he's a first-rate bastard, a real mean character. He makes out he's a fun, easy-going guy but it's all a put on. As for Amenábar, it makes me sick the way the media idolise him after just a couple of films, and not very good films at that. He's overvalued now because it suits the critics who love to label people--the Boy Wonder of Spanish Cinema! He's just another two-faced non entity, big headed and a bad person to boot. And you know none of these people ever think of me when it comes to casting their movies. They've got a true horror film star on their doorstep but, oh no, they have to go and get people like (Jose Luis) Lopez Vazquez! He's a bloody comedian for God's sake! I tell you I'm really up to here with the Spanish film business."

Somebody who did remember Naschy was the producer of the TV series QUERIDO MAESTRO, which follows the exploits of a group of teachers and children in a Spanish urban junior school.

"The producer called me up to offer me the part of the games master. He's a friendly, likeable fellow and he ends up as chairman of the local soccer team, as well as getting involved in a romance with one of the lady teachers. This series runs for 13 episodes, with 13 more scheduled for the next season if this one goes well. I've already completed 7 episodes; we shoot an episode a week. I find it quite hard work. I've never played a regular character on a TV show before and it's completely different from shooting a movie. Here in the studio you have 5 cameras on you all the time and it's much more memory based, you can't fluff your lines and keep doing retakes! But the cast and crew get along fine and I'm enjoying it. It's a new experience."

The latest news on the new movie: "EL OJO DE LA MEDUSA is very nearly finished. There's still a week's shooting to do, which has been held up due to the director going down sick."