AKA THE WEREWOLF VERSUS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN
THE BLACK MASS OF COUNTESS DRACULA
THE BLACK MASS OF COUNTESS DRACULA
Born in 1938 in Madrid, Spain Naschy was a champion weight lifter as a young man and after knocking around films for awhile (including a small uncredited part in 1961's KING OF KINGS) in 1968 he wrote a screenplay based upon a werewolf figure that in human form was that of a Polish nobleman named Waldemar Daninsky. Securing financial backing it was released in 1968 as LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO (THE MARK OF THE WOLFMAN with its U.S. title being FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR). Originally in 70mm 3D (!!) this would kick start Naschy's highly prolific horror career and he would appear as the tragic Daninsky character in 12 more films (with one being a "lost" film along the way). Along with starring he also wrote the majority of the screenplays for his horror projects, that along with werewolf movies would would also include period horror movies and vengeful zombies, devil possession, Frankenstein's monster, hunchbacks, mummies and resurrected warlocks among other evil manifestations. A lifelong fan of horror movies (especially the classic Universal films of the 30's and 40's) Naschy's films are unique among other Spanish horror in that they featured a characters from "classic" horror monster figures and were influenced by the Universal and Hammer films.
Somewhat following the events in 1970's THE FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (it's best not to attempt to follow a discriminable story arc in these films) Waldemar is resurrected by a couple of doctors who remove some silver bullets from his chest and after bloodily dispatching them he sets up house in a large French country estate. Elvira (Gaby Fuchs from MARK OF THE DEVIL) along with Genevieve (the very beautiful Barbara Capell) are traveling in the area searching for the grave of the medieval murderess, devil worshiper and most likely vampiress Countess Wandessa Nadasdy (Patty Shepard from HANNAH QUEEN OF THE VAMPIRES and THE WITCHES MOUNTAIN) and they follow the usual Euro horror plot line of city people who dress in loud 70's fashions and venture out in the countryside where they become involved in the supernatural. Having run short of gas the two women take Walemar up on the offer to take shelter in his home and upon learning of their search for the grave he offers to help them as he's looking for a silver cross/dagger believed to be buried with the countess.
Like most of Naschy's scripts (and Spanish horror in general) there are several "what the hell" subplots that don't really go anywhere and are there most likely to pad out the running time as here we get a way too long sequence of Elvira's boyfriend investigating her disappearance (most of which was cut for the U.S. release) and there's a weird bit involving Naschy's mad sister lurking about. Kilmovsky does set up some deliriously atmospheric scenes (mostly involving the female vampires) with slo-motion, billowing dresses and fog along with plenty of bright red blood splashed about. As in all these movies Naschy's werewolf is highly athletic bounding about and smashing trough windows all the while dispensing gallons of drool and spitting up copious amounts of blood after a kill. In addition there's one scene involving a zombie like monk figure that bears a striking resemblance to the Blind Dead whose first movie would go into production a bit later in the same year.
The South Carolina born Patty Shepard was the daughter of a military man and while he was stationed in Spain she starting modeling which led to roles in movies. She had a very unique look and a presence that was somewhat reminisce of Barbara Steele and although only available in a severely butchered edit her 1972 film THE WITCHES MOUNTAIN is well worth a look. She worked fairly steadily up until the late 80's (appearing in 1988's SLUGS) before retiring. She passed away in 2013.
As mentioned earlier Naschy has always been rather difficult to gauge as far as horror fandom is concerned as his catalog has for the most part been problematic in regards to finding decent additions and until the Phil Hardy and Michael Weldon books in the late 80's he hardly got a mention in print form. Although to be fair, his movies do have some achingly dull moments and the sometimes overwrought dialogue (especially in regard to the romance scenes) are unintentionally funny even in the subtitled versions. However for fans of Euro horror there is something fascinatingly entertaining about these (especially the Kilmovsky ones) as there's tons of great Gothic atmosphere, lurid color, blood and beautiful women. At the center of everything though is Naschy and as especially in regards to his characterization of the forever tortured soul Waldemar Daninsky its fascinating to watch an actor who truly believed in these movies and his work. I got the chance to meet him at a Fanex convention in 2000 where I purchased his then newly translated autobiography. He was very kind and I remember being a bit saddened at the lack of people there to see him.