From the first appearance of the character in Frankenstein's Bloody Terror, Waldemar Daninsky has been the chief character associated with Paul Naschy. A fan favorite, Naschy's depiction of this reluctant and soul haunted werewolf evokes a sense of tragedy similar to that which Lon Chaney, Jr. achieved in his Universal vehicles. Horror and sympathy bleed from his personality even when the stories themselves are uneven. In Curse of the Devil, Naschy expresses an essential vulnerability not as apparent in his roles as the Mummy or Mr. Hyde, emphasizing the dual repulsion and empathy inherent in the character. Daninsky resembles the tragic hero of opera or Greek Tragedy, embodying within his eternal struggle between love and animalistic savagery the larger struggle of humankind between instinct and rationality. Directed by friend Carlos Aured, this last addition to BCI'S Spanish Horror Collection is lively, atmospheric, and frightening. The direction and tone places the film firmly in the tradition of a dark Faerie Tale, with Daninsky himself embodying the rustic simplicity and appeal of a folklore archetype.

Combining in its stylistic blend of supernaturalism and psychological struggle a monster that reinvents the enjoyable terrors of traditional horror with the graphic viscera of modern horror, this modern moralistic parable merges homage with a distinct Spanish sensibility. Involving everything from devil worship and ancestral curses to wandering gypsies and blood thirst, this is an at times over sentimental but ultimately successful dark romance. Naschy, playing an ancestor of Daninsky, defeats a warlock in a jousting bout and proceeds to murder his coven of witches by strangling and burning (and HE'S the good guy!) them. Ala Black Sunday and practically every traditional witch-reincarnation film since, the warlock's wife vows spectral revenge. Centuries later, Waldemar Daninsky, a wealthy landowner in Hungary, home to werewolves and vampires galore, is bitten on the chest by a wolf who he guns down … only to discover a local gypsy with a bullet wound in his chest. A satanic mating session between Lucifer and the gypsies results in the Dark One sending a lovely girl to Daninsky's home wherein she first seduces and then dooms him with the curse of the werewolf. Meanwhile a homicidal maniac is slicing up local pretties, which adds to the tension of the script. As Daninsky is attracted to a neighbouring young woman, the standard but engaging conflict between love and the supernatural is played out.

Curse Of The Devil pays tribute to past Naschy werewolf dramas, careful to follow the template of events and themes that made them successful. On hand is doomed romanticism, gothic atmosphere, and snarling aplenty. A healthy marriage of grotesque imagery and sentimental attitude plays out against a lush country backdrop. Aured and Naschy both succeed in rooting occult absurdities in the midst of the everyday, focusing on the sympathetic Outsider. While not as beautifully photographed, well paced, or as textually engaging as Werewolf's Shadow, Carlos Aured evokes a dream-like mood and sense of impending doom. In the same year (1973), Aured, a protégé of Leon Klimovsky, also gave us Naschy in such thrillers as House Of Psychotic Women but this seventh trip down hairy palms lane exceeds that film in pure eerie ambience. While the script, written by Naschy under his real name of Jacinto Molina, is over crowded with incidents, and occasionally lags as the romantic relationships are established, as a work of pure horrific entertainment this stew of sexuality and mythical violence is successful.

Featured in an anamorphic widescreen of 1.77.1, Curse Of The Devil, when first released a few months back from BCI, was met with immediate disappointment due to the PAL to NTSC conversion that left the picture somewhat blurry and jumpy. The replacement disc seems to have fixed this problem for the most part, with little choppiness remaining. However, the colors are less vibrant than the Anchor Bay version and the imagery less defined. While viewable and clean in detail, this is perhaps the worst looking title released from BCI's wonderful Nascy Spanish collection. Audio is superior than the AB disc, featured in both English and Spanish with optional English subs. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. No background hissing or interference is noted. Extras consist of an English language Theatrical Trailer, the more entertaining Spanish Trailer, and a Stills Gallery (entertaining all but not comparable with BCI'S other Naschy releases).

Review by William Simmons

Released by Navarre Corporation
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review