La Noche de Walpurgis (Werewolf Shadow/The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman)
One of the greatest DVD series of releases in the last decade was Deimos’ collection of Spanish Horror films, most of them with Paul Naschy (Real Name: Jacinto Molina Álvarez) and if the reader is still interested in finding any of them but still not decisive on one, this Leon Kilmovsky-Directed film is one of the best to start off with. For Best Buy stores, this was packaged with 1973’s Curse of the Devil, and with liner notes by Mirek Lipinski, it’s a great example of how a great Horror film should be presented on DVD.
The film starts off with a Doctor and his assistant headed off to the Morgue in the night time on a Full Moon, and while there’s much complaining, the Inspector needed this to happen “right away.” With the Doctor not believing in tales of Werewolves and everything else, he wants to show that the Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy), despite showing the pentagonal mark of the Werewolf, is most certainly dead as he takes out the silver bullets in him. True to form, El Hombre Lobo rises up for a classic tale, this time featuring the legend of Countess Bathory, which was a popular one to film thanks to Ingrid Pitt’s legendary performance in Countess Dracula.
Elvira, a College Student played by Gaby Fuchs of Mark of the Devil fame, tells her Inspector boyfriend Marcel in a club about the virgin blood drinking legend of Countess Wandesa Dárvula de Nadasdy, better known to many as Erzsebet Bathory, highlighted by a scene that may have suggested that Klimovsky may have been slightly influenced by The Trip with it’s Psychedelic show. Later, on the way to the tomb with her friend Genevieve (Barbara Capell) find that the car is running low on gas and stay at Daninsky’s place that is without all of the modern comforts. It should be noted that Patty Shepard, a South Carolina-born lady who moved to Spain at 18 and since appeared in a large number of great films, plays the legendary Countess in great style.
Once settled in, Elvira and Genevieve rest up for the nest day, but Waldemar’s sister, Elizabeth (Yelena Samarina) warns Elvira to leave. With some comfort by Waldemar, however, they decide to stay. The next day, Elvira and Waldemar have a nice walk around the place while Genevieve decides to explore alone, winding up in a room with chains and a not so happy sister. The two college students are seen to be a final hope for Waldemar, with the ever-wondering Elvira being an target of affection after finding out about a curse that turns him into a Werewolf that he got while visiting Tibet leading to a union that results in a happy end for both of them.
Ready to go to the tomb, the trio arrive, and while Elvira seems to have reservations about moving any further, Genevieve gets into the moment, takes pictures, and then unfortunately cutting her arm on the Mayenza cross that killed the Countess after pulling it away. With the blood hitting Wandessa’s lips, she’s revived and later seducing Genevieve into joining her Vampire cult, leading to an attack on Elvira, who’s now finally seen to be the virgin of the group. Waldemar saves Elvira from all of this after killing the already damned Genevieve, but soon Marcel arrives trying to find out what is going on and not being happy after finding out about what Elvira is doing, although after some convincing, the two reunite although there’s one more thing to take care of…Wandessa.
On Walpurgis (A legendary celebration through Europe, Apr. 30-May 1), Marcel, who’s Bond film worship never taught him how to deal with this situation, and Elvira are in Wandessa’s lair, and Waldemar finally arrives on a Full Moon ready to finally do battle with the Countess who was ready to let Satan rule the world as well as drink the blood of Elvira. Of course, El Hombre Lobo wins the match, Elvira stabs him with The Cross, the Werewolf passes away, and our Blond lovely walks out with Marcel into the sunrise.
The film has a great blend of Horror, Drama, and tasty Exploitation with a nice use of the legs and some classic Gothic costumes. Naschy’s star quality of the time shows, and the wimpy Inspector Marcel is played well by Andres Resino who’s appeared in a number of films through the years. This is a great film to catch for those nights wanting to check out something from a classic era in Horror when things were getting spicy and sometimes erotic.
For this review, I used the original Spanish title first for as it best fits the film as well as the influence for people greeting Naschy as “Senior Walpurgis.” Werewolf Shadow is the best-known title thanks to the great DVD while The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman with a different score and shortened length (The version favored by quite a few of it’s fans) was the age-old US marketing used for it when unleashed in The States through the State Rights system, led by Universal Entertainment (Like Universal-Marion, certainly no relation to a very famous company). One of the main Distributors of this film in The States was Ellman, who presented it in 1972 along with other Horror films such as The Mad Butcher (Meat is Meat in it’s Box Office International run), Diabolic Wedding, Legend of Horror, and Annabel Lee.