Thursday, 26 November 2015

Cinema & TV: The Werewolf Cinematic Timeline, Part III: 1970-1979

Hello everyone and welcome to what should probably be the analysis and review of The Wolfman, but is, instead, the third part of the Werewolf Cinematic Timeline!

Quite frankly, I have been taking much longer that I thought I would with the review, because I've been busy with many other things both in real and virtual life and so haven't had the time to enter the right mindset to sit down and continue writing. That's where the Werewolf Cinematic Timeline Part III comes in. The nature of this series of posts allowed me to keep working on the short summaries for the movies listed during short periods of time during which I was free to do something for the website. It was a pretty long process, too, because this time the number of titles increased to 28, compared with 17 titles included in Part II. It did not help that it was sometimes a little difficult to find information about the plots of some of the movies, so some extra digging was required here and there. Additionally, I was right in my assumption that I would have to cut Part III on year 1979, because there were just so many productions that came out in the 70s that the post would just be too long. Not that it's not pretty long as it is right now! So, all in all, I think sticking to the decade-by-decade division will be the best course of action.

Researching all these movies, year by year, has proven very educational for me, and a lot of fun, too. I hope that you who are reading this will also share in my experience and find something that will pique your interest. Enjoy!


1970


El Bosque del Lobo

An adaptation of a novel by Carlos Martinez-Barbeito, the movie is partially based on the life events of Manuel Blanco Romasanta, a 19th-century Spaniard who claimed that he was a werewolf after murdering many men, women, and children before he was brought to justice. The movie is said to very well portray the reality of the times, when criminal impulses were often easily misunderstood as symptoms of lycanthropy.


Los Monstruos del Terror 
(The Monsters of Terror / Dracula vs. Frankenstein / Reincarnator / Assignment Terror)

The third instalment in the series of films about the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, played by Paul Naschy. Aliens (yes, you heard it right) that run a travelling circus as a cover for their much more insidious plans decide to revive a werewolf (Count Daninsky, from whose body they extract the silver bullets he was shot with in the first movie in order to revive him), a vampire, a mummy, and Frankenstein's monster in order to use them to take over Earth. Their plan is to discover the reason why these monsters are so frightening to the inhabitants of Earth and then use them to conquer the planet. However, their plot is foiled by Daninsky, who single-handedly gets rid of the other monsters and subsequently blows up the aliens' base, after which he ends up shot with silver bullets fired by a woman that loves him enough to end his torment (AGAIN).

Nympho Werewolf 

(no poster available at the moment)

This is one of those movies that seems to have vanished from the pages of cinematic history. I remember hearing something or other about it ten years ago, back when my interest in werewolves was still new, but I have lost whatever information I might have had from that time and the only thing I could find so far is that this was a low-budget and low-quality Portuguese werewolf movie. I will post an update should I manage to find something more.

La Furia del Hombre Lobo 
(The Fury of the Wolfman / The Werewolf Never Sleeps)

The fourth movie in the series about Count Waldemar Daninsky, played by Paul Naschy. Although it was filmed in 1970, it wasn't released until 1972 because of problems its makers had to find a distributor. It is still classified as a 1970 movie, so here it will stay. Fury of the Wolfman presents a different origin story to that shown in Mark of the Wolfman of how Count Daninsky became a werewolf. Here, the Count travels to Tibet, where he is bitten by a yeti, which somehow causes him to become a werewolf. As a werewolf, Daninsky kills his wife and her lover, but then dies during his escape attempt. After that, he is revived by a mad scientist, who wants to use him in her mind control experiments. Additionally, she brings back to life Daninsky's wife, who is now a werewolf as well after her husband's fatal bite from earlier, and pits the two werewolves against each other. Daninsky kills his wife once again and is in the end shot dead by the scientist's assistant, who loves him (they could have really come up with a different end to each of these stories if they were to make sequels). 


La Noche de Walpurgis 
(The Werewolf vs. Vampire Woman / Werewolf Shadow)

The very successful fifth part in the series of movies about the werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky, played by Paul Naschy, which picks up after the events of Fury of the Wolfman. Here, Daninsky is brought back to life after two doctors remove the silver bullets he was "killed" with in the previous movie while performing an autopsy on his (not-so-dead after all) body. As expected, the werewolf escapes from the morgue, killing the doctors on the way. He then returns home to his castle (the one from the first movie perhaps? But this is supposed to be a different continuity... I don't think there's any point in trying to make sense of all this...). This causes the townsfolk of the nearby village to start spreading rumours that a werewolf lives in the castle. While there, the count is visited by two women who are looking for the grave of a notorious murderess and, reportedly, vampire. Once they find her resting place, which happens to be in the vicinity of Daninsky's castle, they accidentally revive the vampire and become her servants. The werewolf count is then forced to battle and defeat the vampire, after which - you guessed it - he is shot dead (oh really?) by one of the mentioned women, who somewhere on the way has fallen in love with him.

1971

Beast of the Yellow Night

During World War II, the devil saves a man from death on condition that he become his servant and carry out his will for the next twenty-five years. As such, the man gains the ability to possess people and bring out the evil inside them. This evil, as it turns out, makes them turn into a hairy werewolf-like monster that stalks and kills other people.

Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo 
(Dr Jekyll and the Werewolf )

The sixth part of the series where Paul Naschy plays Count Waldemar Daninsky. Our protagonist (who, once again, is somehow alive after the previous film) sets out on a quest to find a cure for werewolfism. To this end, he visits the grandson of the famous Dr. Jekyll. The man gives him a serum that splits his personality similarly to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He hopes that this will subdue the werewolf inside the Count, but as it turns out it only leads to the creation of an even more savage monster.

O Homem Lobo
(The Werewolf)

(no poster available at the moment)

A Brazilian black-and-white film about an orphan boy who transforms into a werewolf at night during the full moon and causes panic among the inhabitants of a small country town.

Santo y el Blue Demon Contra Dracula y el Hombre Lobo
(Santo & Blue Demon vs. Dracula & the Wolfman)

Santo and Blue Demon - two of the most famous Mexican luchadores of the time - work with a couple of detectives to stop the grandson of Dr Frankenstein from performing wicked brain transplant experiments, which apparently involve turning someone into a werewolf.

Werewolves On Wheels

During a ride, a group of bikers comes across an old church, in which they decide to take shelter for the night. It soon is revealed that the church is home to a satanic cult, which drugs the bikers, making them quickly fall asleep. The same night, the cultists cast a curse on the biker leader's girlfriend, which makes her turn into a werewolf every subsequent night and one by one kill off other bikers every time they stop to rest for the night. Her curse soon spreads to her boyfriend. The two werewolves are eventually confronted by the gang in the movie's climax.


1972

Moon of the Wolf

The mauled body of a young woman is found by the police in a small Louisiana town of Marsh Island. Although she looks like she was killed by an animal, the woman's brother is convinced it was her boyfriend who murdered her. The local sheriff conducts an investigation and interviews the girl's dying father who warns him of the "loug garog" (which, later on, turns out to have been a mispronunciation of the French term "loup garou", meaning "werewolf"). Subsequently, he visits the plantation estate of a man and his sister, who are the last remaining members of their family. Asked about the night of the murder, the man answers that he suffered an episode of malaria and doesn't remember anything. After a couple more people are killed, the plantation owner's sister reveals to the sheriff that the curse of werewolfism runs in their family and that her brother has probably inherited it. In the end, she is forced to kill her brother once he turns into a werewolf during a full moon and tries to kill her.

The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!

This American production tells the story of a family of natural-born werewolves - the Moonies (hur, hur, hur), for that is their name - who live in rural England of the early 1900s. The father, who claims to be nearly two hundred years old, has spent many years researching possible ways to lift the family curse, but to no avail. When the youngest daughter returns home from medical school, she is hailed as the last and only hope for the family, because she is the only member of the family who does not turn into a werewolf during the full moon. However, as it turns out, she secretly has an agenda of her own and lifting the family's curse is just an excuse for pursuing her own goals.

El Retorno de Walpurgis 
(The Return of Walpurgis / Curse of the Devil The Black Harvest of Countess Dracula)

The seventh part of the saga of Count Waldemar Daninsky, the werewolf. This time, we once again are presented with a different origin story of how the count became a werewolf. Daninsky, a wealthy man who lives in his castle, one night kills a wolf on his castle's grounds. After death, the wolf transforms into a human and it is revealed that the werewolf was a member of a band of Gypsies that were camped nearby. When the news reaches the camp, one of the Gypsy women casts a curse on Waldemar for killing one of their brethren. The woman devises a plot to punish him and sends a beautiful young Gypsy to seduce the count, which she succeeds in doing. While he is asleep, the woman gives him a bite using a wolf's skull she managed to smuggle into the castle, and the count thus becomes a werewolf. In addition to this, it is revealed that one of Daninsky's ancestors was a member of the Holy Inquisition and was cursed to become a werewolf by a woman he sentenced to burn on a stake. Said woman is then revived and the confrontation between her and the werewolf Daninsky constitutes the movie's climax.

1973

Chabelo y Pepito Contra Los Monstruos

A Mexican comedy in which two young boys decide to sneak out of their boy-scout camping trip in search of treasure and adventure. They find a cave, in which (somehow) they end up surrounded by all the classic Universal Studios monsters, including Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, the Wolf Man, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, who they have to all outsmart in order to not get eaten.


The Boy Who Cried Werewolf

A boy named Richie is taken by his divorced father to a desolate mountain cabin for a father-and-son weekend. During a hike at night, the two are attacked by a werewolf, which the father manages to kill, but not before being bitten. Upon examining the creature's body, it appears a human once again, so the father dismisses his son's ramblings about a monster. The local police cannot identify the body, so the man is labeled as a mad drifter and the case is quickly closed. Richie, however, insists that his father killed a werewolf, which makes his mother send him to a psychiatrist. As therapy, Richie returns to his father's cabin for another few days, during which the man unknowingly transforms into a werewolf (because, of course, it's the full moon at the time) and chases after him. Richie manages to escape and finds shelter for the night at a newlywed couple's camper. He tells them he saw a werewolf in his father's cabin, but they don't believe him. The next morning, Richie's father arrives at the camper and takes his son home. That night, expecting to see the werewolf again, Richie hides inside the cabin and witnesses his father turn into the monster from the day before. When the boy tells his mother that he's afraid to be alone with his father because he's a werewolf, another visit to the psychiatrist follows. The doctor advises that the whole family spend time together in the mountains and they agree, which leads to the movie's climax where everything, and more, is revealed.

The Werewolf of Washington

An American horror comedy which is a satire on a couple individuals from the surroundings of Richard Nixon during his presidency. A reporter, who happens to have an affair with the president's daughter, is sent to Hungary. While there, he is bitten by a werewolf and contracts lycanthropy. After returning to the US, he is given the position of the president's press assistant. Having discovered that he is a werewolf, the reporter tries to tell others about it, but nobody believes him. Needless to say, soon afterwards people start getting killed off by a mysterious creature.

Blood

(no poster available at the moment)

In the 1930s London, Dr. Orlovski, who is a werewolf, keeps a garden full of man-eating plants. He teams up with Count Dracula's daughter and together they release swarms of blood-sucking bats into the city, which transform its citizens into vampire-like monsters. As is to be expected, total chaos ensues.

1974


Scream of the Wolf

An adventure writer (played by Peter Graves) is called by the police to investigate a series of murders that the authorities can't solve. The murderer leaves no clear trail and the only clues around the scenes are wolf pawprints that end abruptly and turn into human footprints. Unable to solve the mystery, the writer recruits a retired big-game hunter to track down whatever preys on the local townsfolk. Together, they begin to suspect that the killer is more than just a human.


The Beast Must Die
(Black Werewolf)

This horror is perfect for those who enjoyed playing Cluedo as kids. A millionaire invites a group of people to spend some time at his mansion in rural England. Upon their arrival, he reveals that one of them is a werewolf and must be killed before he kills the others. The people are then subjected to various tests that aim to bring out the werewolf inside - these include touching silverware, being exposed to the light of the full moon (you'd think that would work, right?) and the scent of wolfsbane. When these experiments don't bring any results and people start dying, the mansion's owner becomes increasingly desperate in his search. He makes his guests undergo a final test - to place a silver bullet in their mouths. During this test, one of the women transforms into a werewolf and jumps at the host, who kills her by shooting her with a silver bullet. However, it turns out she is not the only werewolf in the mansion and that she contracted the curse accidentally. The hunt for the original werewolf begins and once he's found, he is killed by the millionaire, but the latter gets bitten in the process. Not wanting to become a werewolf himself nor infect anyone else with lycanthropy, the man returns to his mansion and commits suicide. The movie originally included a 30-minute break where the viewers were encouraged to guess who the werewolf is, but it was later re-released under the title Black Werewolf, in which the break was skipped.

1975

La Bête
(The Beast)

A French pornographic erotic fantasy horror which (loosely) tells the story of a noble family who have financially fallen on hard times. A light of hope appears when the head of the family's best friend, a wealthy businessman, offers to marry his daughter to the noble's son. Upon arrival, Lucy (for that is her name) questions the family about some rumours she heard about ghosts and monsters appearing in the estate's vicinity, to which she is told a story of Romilda who was said to have battled a beast in the local forest two hundred years earlier. On the night of the wedding, Lucy retires to her room and dreams that she's the Romilda from the story. In the dream, she follows a lamb into the forest, only to find that it has been torn apart by a black-furred werewolf-like beast. She runs away, but the beast follows, finally catching up to her. The two then proceed to have sex. Lucy wakes up with a start and goes to the room next to hers to check if her husband-to-be hasn't visited her, but she finds him fast asleep. She then returns to bed and keeps dreaming about making love with the beast, waking up and checking on her intended two more times. Eventually, her dream ends with the beast's death (apparently from exhaustion). When she visits her future husband's room for the final time, she discovers that he is lying on the floor, dead. Having raised alarm, everyone comes to inspect the body and it is revealed that the estate owner's son is the beast from Lucy's dream.

La Maldición de la Bestia 
(Curse of the Beast Night of the Howling Beast / The Werewolf and the Yeti / Hall of the Mountain King)

The eighth part in the saga of the werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy). Similarly to how it was done before, this movie cuts itself off from the continuity of its prequels and provides a new origin story of the main character. A yeti also appears in this one, but, unlike in the Fury of the Wolfman, is not related to Daninsky's lycanthropy. Instead, here the count becomes a werewolf after he is bitten by two female vampires (somehow, this works). Daninsky travels to Tibet in search of the yeti and is captured by two vampire women who turn him into a werewolf. In the movie's climax, he is pitted against a yeti, but fights it only briefly. This, in addition to an increased amount of nudity and gore than in the other movies in the series, disappointed the fans and Paul Naschy did not return to the silver screen as Count Daninsky for the next five long years.

Werewolf of Woodstock

A farmer who hates hippies tries to destroy some leftover equipment when Woodstock ends. As a result, he is electrocuted, which turns him into a werewolf (don't ask me how that works...). Now, every time there is a thunderstorm, the farmer transforms into a hairy beast and stalks the vicinity. Meanwhile, a band of hippies arrives in Woodstock to record their album on the famous stage so they can boast about it on the album's cover. While there, they come across the werewolf, who first attacks their dog and then abducts one of the girls and locks her up in an abandoned building. Subsequently, the farmer-werewolf also kills the local policeman and a doctor, so the authorities finally take notice. Two officers sent to investigate the scene soon figure out that the culprit is a werewolf and, in order to dispatch the beast and save the kidnapped girl, try to lure it out in the open using rock music, which it so much hates. The plan fails, however, and the werewolf escapes with the girl and heads for the nearby power station, where, after a struggle, it is put to rest with a silver bullet.

Legend of the Werewolf

Incorporating some elements of Guy Endore's novel The Werewolf of Paris, this British horror film tells the story of an orphan boy who is raised by wolves and eventually is taken in by a travelling circus and put on display as a "Wolf Boy". Once he grows up, the boy kills one of the troupe's members during a full moon and flees to Paris, where he finds a job as a zookeeper. While there, he develops a crush on one of a group of prostitutes that regularly visit the zoo. Meanwhile, he  transforms into a werewolf during the full moon and starts murdering the locals. One night, he visits the brothel where his crush works and sees her with a client, which angers him to the point that he transforms into a werewolf and kills the client and wreaks havoc at the establishment. Rejected by the prostitute, the werewolf kills even more visitors of the brothel. Soon after, a police surgeon (played by Peter Cushing) starts following the trail of murders and aims to catch what he thinks is a wolf that has escaped the local zoo.


Nazareno Cruz y el Lobo
(Nazareno Cruz and the Wolf)


The story of this movie is based on the Guarani monster of legend, the Luison, which over time, with the arrival of European settlers in America, gradually lost many of its original traits and took on the characteristics of the werewolf. The titular character is a young farmer who lives in the countryside. Just like the Luison, he was unfortunate enough to be born as the seventh son of his parents and so is widely regarded as a victim of the werewolf curse by the townsfolk. As he grows up, Nazareno falls in love with a girl named Griselda. When he turns twenty, however, the Devil appears before him and tells him that his curse is real and that he will turn into a wolf during every full moon. He gives the boy an ultimatum: if  he gives up his love for Griselda, his curse will be lifted. Nazareno refuses to do so and becomes a werewolf during the full moon and starts murdering people.

1976

La Lupa Mannara 
(Wolf Woman / The Legend of the Wolf Woman / She-Wolf / Terror of the She Wolf / Naked Werewolf Woman)

A girl who is a rape victim develops a hatred for men. As she grows up, she finds out she resembles one of her ancestors who is said to have been a werewolf. The girl then starts having dreams about being said ancestor and turning into a werewolf, so she is taken to a psychiatrist by her father. The psychiatrist concludes that Daniela may be suffering from lycanthropy (the medical condition). When Daniela's sister returns home from her studies, the woman seduces her sister's fiancee and lures him into the woods, where she kills him by ripping his throat out with her teeth. Driven insane by this, Daniela is put in an asylum, from which she escapes, however, after killing another patient. On her way, she murders another woman and then a man that tries to rape her. The authorities begin to connect the woman with the murders and set out to find her, but she is first found by a man who is so unlike the other men Daniela has met in her life that she falls in love with him. However, their happy days end when the man is killed by three burglars who break into their house and then rape Daniela. Soon after, she takes her revenge on them by ripping their throats out. Later on, she is found and captured in the forest by police officers and medical staff, and locked away in an asylum for the rest of her life.

1978

Death Moon

Due to work-related stress, a man is sent on forced vacation by his doctor. He chooses to visit Hawaii, as that's where his grandfather worked as a missionary. Once there, he finds out that his grandfather, as well as all his male descendants were once cursed by a local tribe practising Voodoo magic. The said curse makes our protagonist transform into a werewolf at night, in whose shape he begins murdering young women on the island.


1979


Wolfman

Colin Glasgow returns to his ancestral home after the death of his father. He soon learns that his family has been cursed and that his father and grandfather were werewolves and that he is next in line to become the curse's victim. He finds out that it was the local reverend, who is a member of a satanic cult, that put the curse upon his family, so he sets out on a mission to kill the reverend and free himself and his line from the fate of becoming werewolves.
O Coronel e o Lobisomem
(The Colonel and the Werewolf)

Based on the romance novel of the same title by Jose Candido de Carvalho, this Brazilian movie (which was apparently remade in 2005) tells the story of Ponciano, who inherits his father's plantation after the latter's death and is made a colonel. However, he soon feels too lonely and decides to travel to the city, where he partakes in the pleasures of life. As a result, he spends the entirety of his father's fortune, which leads him to lose his sanity. He goes back to the plantation, where, with an imaginary gun in hand, he battles many fantastic imaginary enemies, including a werewolf at the end.

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And that is that for the third part of the Werewolf Cinematic Timeline! As always, if I come across something that is werewolf related that I haven't listed here, I will come back and update the post. In the meantime, I hope that it will take me less than a whole month (oh dear, has it really been that long?) to post something in the nearest future. That said, I'm not sure what the next post will be about, but if it's another part of the timeline, then I will be tackling the 80s, when werewolf movies were even more popular than in the 70s. Meanwhile, have a happy Thanksgiving and see you next time!


Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Behind the Symbol: The Pentagram as a Sign of the Werewolf

Greetings!

I know that it’s full moon and that I said the next time I would post would be this month’s Werewolf Movie Review, but I simply didn’t finish it in time, for which I am sorry. Instead, while I continue working on the review, I thought I’d post something shorter. I apologise in for posting something that’s already been posted, in a way, on Werewolf Theory, but here’s why I’ve decided to do it: the paragraphs pertaining to the symbolism of the pentagram and how it may be related to werewolves were originally a part of the September 2015 review of 1941’s The Wolf Man. Because they were quite far into the review, and because there is no mention of its inclusion in the review’s title or description (since it came about as a side-effect of my analysis of the movie), not everyone looking for this particular subject would be able to find it. So I decided to make a separate post consisting of those couple paragraphs, expanded by additional examples of the use of pentagrams in relation with werewolves that would not fit into The Wolf Man review for obvious reasons. I guess this post could be treated as a filler by those who’ve already read my analysis and review of the mentioned movie. For those who haven’t, I encourage you to take a look at the complete review to which a link you can find in the menu on the right in the ‘Cinema & TV’ section :) And to those who’ve stumbled onto my humble doorstep looking for an article on pentagrams and werewolves I say: enjoy!

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To many members of the older generation (especially overly concerned parents of teenagers, it seems – and I’m talking from personal experience here), the pentagram is a sign of the devil. However, the whole business is trickier than that, which many people don’t realise. The symbolism of the pentagram in Western culture depends on its orientation. And so, there are two pentagrams: one whose meaning is good, and the other, whose meaning is more sinister.

The one which represents positive qualities is the one where a single point is projecting upwards, so the standard type of a pentagram, which we most commonly see when we hear the word ‘pentagram’. This pentagram is sometimes called the Pythagorean pentagram and in ancient times it was used as a Christian symbol of the five senses or the five wounds of Christ. During the Renaissance period, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa – a 15th/16th century German magician, alchemist, occult writer, theologian, and astrologer – in his 1531 work De occulta philosophia libri tres (Three Books of Occult Philosophy) spread the popularity of the pentagram as an occult symbol. He attributed each of the points to the five Neoplatonic elements and inscribed the human body in a pentagram. In the 19th century, a further distinction appeared concerning the way the pentagram is positioned. The already mentioned Pythagorean pentagram, one with a single point projecting upwards, was a depiction of the spirit presiding over the four elements of matter and was symbolically ‘good’.


Then there is the ‘evil’ pentagram. The 19th century French occult author and ceremonial magician Eliphas Levi called the pentagram ‘evil’ whenever it appeared upside down. In his 1854 work Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual (Dogme et ritual de la haute magie), he wrote:

A reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards, is a symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces because it overturns the proper order of things and demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit. It is the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns, a sign execrated by initiates.

An overturned pentagram thus became the symbol of the goat of Black Magic, since its head could be inscribed into the symbol. In a later work, Levi also calls this pentagram ‘a sign of antagonism and fatality’. A drawing of a goat’s head inscribed in an overturned pentagram was then included in 1897 in Stanislas de Guaita’s La Clef de la Magia Noire and is known as the ‘Samael/Lilith’ version. Later on, in 1968, a slightly redesigned version of this pentagram, known as the Sigil of Baphomet, became a copyrighted symbol of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. But this last thing is just a curiosity, because it doesn’t pertain in any way to our current predicament.
So that is that, as they say. Now that we know a little more about the nature of the pentagram, we can understand a little more about why it could be regarded as a sign of the werewolf. Of particular interest here is Levi’s interpretation that the overturned pentagram symbolises ‘the triumph of matter over spirit’ in contrast to the proper pentagram, which symbolises the dominance of the spirit. The duality of human nature is a constant struggle between the spirit and the body – between what we regard proper and good for the soul (especially in religion) and the often primitive temptations of the body. While the Pythagorean pentagram is a symbol of a human’s will and spirit dominating those primal instincts, the Samael/Lilith pentagram symbolises the opposite. With werewolves, the struggle between humanity and bestiality is magnified tenfold, for obvious reasons. A werewolf’s efforts to dominate the beast within are an omnipresent theme in works concerning lycanthropy. A human physically transforming into a wolf, succumbing to the curse, becomes a symbolic surrender of spirit to matter and the overturning of the natural order of things, just as the pentagram itself is overturned.

Let’s now take a look at the appearances of the pentagram in werewolf cinema. Note that this list will be updated in time, because even I still haven’t seen all werewolf movies (shame!) :( So I apologise for its incompletion. For now, here are three productions that came to my mind in the first place.

The Wolf Man (1941)

In this movie, the pentagram is an important plot point and it is probably the first time it was used in this context. The first time it’s mentioned is when the main character, Larry Talbot, visits an antique shop where he eventually buys his famous silver cane. The shop owner’s daughter tells Larry that the pentagram is considered the symbol of a werewolf, but no further explanation as to why is given. The only reason that the movie provides is that someone who’s a werewolf will see a pentagram in the palm of his next victim’s hand, which is shown later on-screen. The pentagram also features on the tip of Larry’s silver cane, where it is paired with a leaping wolf. Additionally, scars of those bitten by werewolves are said to be star-shaped, as is the case with Bela the Gypsy and, later, Larry himself. A slightly different use of the pentagram is made when Larry is given a pentagram-shaped charm that’s supposed to protect him from evil. This pentagram, however, is the upright one, as if to bring balance to where there is a lack of thereof.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

In An American Werewolf in London, the pentagram appears roughly at the beginning of the movie when our two main characters visit a pub in a small Welsh village where they end up during their tour of Europe. The pentagram is painted on one of the pub’s walls in red paint, with two candles hanging on each side, and one of the characters makes a reference to The Wolf Man when they say that it’s a sign of the werewolf. However, the pentagram here is drawn upright, which doesn’t comply with my earlier theory. Either the filmmakers didn’t think the issue through as thoroughly as I did or I myself saw meaning where there was none. I do like my theory, though, because it makes some semblance of sense, at least in my head.

Cursed (2005)

Cursed is another movie that makes many references to the original Wolf Man. The pentagram’s use here is similar to the one in the 1941 classic. After a character in the movie contracts lycanthropy, dark spots appear on the palm of their right hand, which, if traced, create a pentagram. This is a similar approach, if with a little twist, to the one in The Wolf Man. In one scene, one of the main characters is reading a book about werewolves and finds an entry that describes how whoever is a werewolf will have the mentioned marks on the palm of one of their hands. Although in the picture presented in the book the pentagram seems to be upright, when the character connects the dots on his own hand using a marker pen, the pentagram is clearly turned upside down.

WolfCop (2014)


In last year’s WolfCop, the main character becomes a victim of a demonic ritual of sacrifice, which ends up making him a werewolf. During said ritual, an overturned pentagram is carved into his chest with a sacrificial knife. He discovers the wound only the next morning when he tries to shave. The pentagram here is referred to as ‘the mark of the beast’.

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And that is all for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this short article nevertheless. In the meantime, I’m going back to working on 2010’s The Wolfman and I will hopefully see you again very soon. Until then!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Cinema & TV: The Werewolf Cinematic Timeline, Part II: 1950-1969

Hello and welcome to the second part of the Werewolf Cinematic Timeline! 

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has visited my blog over the past three years. We have officially broken 140,000 pageviews (almost 141,000 now, actually)! It is quite a milestone, seeing as only recently have I returned to actively posting content, so I am very grateful to each and every one of you guys. You rock! :D

But let's get back to our timeline. Below you will find a list, along with some (mostly) colourful posters and short plot summaries, of werewolf movies and movies that feature werewolves in one way or another that came out between the 1950 and 1969. Compared to the earlier years, we can already notice a significant increase in the number of such productions. Because of the size of this post, I had to back down from my original plan of including movies from 1950 all the way to 1979 and instead stop ten years earlier. So off we go!

1956

The Werewolf


In the remote Californian town of Mountaincrest, a beast is on the loose, killing people. The locals find footprints that suddenly turn into pawprints and decide that any further investigation should be left to the law enforcement. Meanwhile, the protagonist, Duncan Marsh, wakes up naked in a drainage opening, with no recollection of what happened or even what his name is. As it turns out, he is a victim of two mad scientists, who rescued him from a car accident and, taking advantage of his condition, injected him with irradiated wolf blood, which, as a result, turned him into a bloodthirsty werewolf.

1957

El Castillo de los Monstruos 
(The Castle of the Monsters)


A Mexican horror comedy directed by Julian Soler. El Clavilazzo – a Mexican funnyman – falls in love with a seamstress by the name of Beatriz. When Beatriz is kidnapped by a mad scientist that has been producing monsters based on the classic Universal Studios monsters in his nearby castle, our protagonist has no choice but to rescue her. Along with friends, he finds his way into the castle and in one way or another does away with all the monsters, including a werewolf, a mummy, a vampire, a Frankenstein’s monster-wannabe, and a fish-man similar to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He manages to save his beloved, while the mad scientist meets his end at the hands of his hunchback assistant after the latter turns on him.

I Was a Teenage Werewolf


Tony (Michael Landon) is a distressed teenager who basically has anger management issues. Every so often, he gets into fights with his colleagues, which causes him a lot of problems at school. After one such fight, Tony attracts the unwanted attention of the local police department. The officer in charge breaks up the fight and advises Tony that he seek help of a local psychologist. Said psychologist, Dr. Brandon, specialises in hypnotherapy. When Tony decides to visit him, Brandon agrees to treat him, but he has an agenda of his own. Wanting to advance his scientific career, Brandon injects Tony with a serum and convinces him that he’s a werewolf. As a result, Tony undergoes not only a mental, but also a physical change at certain times (e.g. he transforms at the sound of a ringing bell), which makes him start killing locals. Realising what he’s become, Tony seeks help to get out of this new predicament.

1958


How to Make a Monster


Yet another cross-over featuring a wolf-man and Frankenstein’s monster, although a bit differently than before. Pete Dumond, our protagonist and chief villain, is a make-up artist that has worked on horror movies for the last twenty-five years of his life. When the studio he’s been working for is bought by a company that wants to make musicals and comedies instead of horror movies, Pete loses his job (and, arguably, his sanity). He vows to take vengeance on the new owners by using the monsters of his own creation as tools. To this end, he blackmails and hypnotises two actors so that they think they actually are the characters they’re playing (Teenage Werewolf and Teenage Frankenstein). In full werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster’s make-up, the two become Pete’s tools of destruction. No genuine werewolf here, it would seem, but I thought this movie was worth mentioning nevertheless.

1960

La Casa del Terror
(House of Terror)


Another Mexican horror comedy. These seem to have been quite popular at the time, didn’t they? A night watchman at a wax museum of horrors is being experimented on by his boss, the Professor – while he sleeps on the job, the Professor takes some of his blood and uses it in his experiments that are meant to bring back the dead to life. To cover his misdeeds, the Professor covers all his failed experiments in wax and places them on display in the museum. When he hears about a mummified body discovered in an Egyptian sarcophagus, he decides to steal it with the help of his two henchmen. Back at his lab, by utilising lightning in the traditional Frankenstein manner, he finally succeeds in bringing the corpse back to life. However, when the full moon rises in the sky, the reanimated dead man transforms into a werewolf, escapes the laboratory and goes on a rampage through the city.

1961

The Curse of the Werewolf


Based on the novel The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore. Set in 18th century Spain, the movie starts with a beggar becoming imprisoned by a cruel marques for uttering inappropriate remarks at his wedding. The beggar spends the next fifteen years in prison, tended to only by the jailer and his beautiful daughter. In time, the marques sets his sights on the jailer’s daughter, but when she rejects him, he has her thrown into the same cell as the beggar. The beggar, who’s lost his sanity due to years of imprisonment, rapes her, which results in her becoming pregnant. Given the opportunity, the girl escapes, kills the marques and hides in the forest. There, she is found by a man and his housekeeper who nurse her back to health, but she dies eventually anyway after giving birth to a son on Christmas Day (a bad omen that in some folklore meant the child will become a werewolf). Indeed, thirteen years later, the boy undergoes a transformation and starts killing people, the only thing that can supposedly prevent this change being the presence of the girl he’s fallen in love with. Unable to marry her and imprisoned on suspicion of murder, the boy changes into a werewolf and goes on a killing spree until he is killed by a silver bullet shot by his step-father.

Frankenstein, el Vampiro y Cia 
(Frankenstein, the Vampire, and Company)


A Mexican remake of Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein from 1948 (discussed in Part I of our Timeline). The plot is practically identical to the original Universal Studios production, so there is not much for me to say here.

1962

Lycanthropus 
(Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory)

An Italian take on the subject of werewolves. A creature resembling a wolf-man starts killing young women at a school for girls. The newly-hired science teacher becomes the prime suspect of being a werewolf.

1964

Face of the Screaming Werewolf


Dr. Cowan Redding is a psychologist specialising in hypnotic regression. During one such session, he discovers that one of his patients is a reincarnation of an Aztec woman. Thanks to what he can uncover from her memories, the doctor is able to lead a team of archaeologists into a hidden chamber of the Great Pyramid of Yucatan. Instead of expected Aztec treasure, inside they find two mummified bodies, one of which (somehow) appears to still be alive. Once the two bodies are transported back to the city, however, Dr. Redding is killed by a rival scientist who steals one of the recovered mummies. He manages to resurrect it, only to find out that it’s a werewolf. The creature breaks free from the lab, while at the same time the other mummy (the live one) escapes from where it was being held. The two mummies face off against each other in the streets of the city. What is worth noting is that the werewolf mummy was played by Lon Chaney, Jr. (through the use of footage from 1960’s La Casa del Terror), this being his last film role as a werewolf.

1965

La Loba 
(The She-Wolf / Los Horrores del Bosque Negro)


A beautiful young Mexican woman from a rich family suffers from a curse that makes her transform into a wolf every night. She starts seeing a doctor, hoping that he can help her lift the curse. When it turns out that he is also a werewolf like her, the two fall in love with each other and from now on murder people by night together. Their killing spree eventually comes to an end when become the prey of a hunting dog trained specifically to kill werewolves.

Dr Terror's House of Horrors


Starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, this film tells the story of five men who board a train carriage from London to Bradley. They are joined by a sixth man, a mysterious Dr. Schreck (whose name in German translates to ‘terror’, hence the first part of the movie’s title) who offers to tell his companions their fortunes using his deck of Tarot cards, which he calls the ‘House of Horrors’. Each time he draws a card, he tells one of the five men a story about the fate that lies ahead of them. One of those is a story about a werewolf that one of the travellers will come across in the future.

Orgy of the Dead


An erotic horror directed by Ed Wood on the basis of his own novel. A young couple is looking for a cemetery at night, hoping that the setting will bring inspiration to one of them who is a horror screenwriter. They have a car accident, but nevertheless eventually manage to find the cemetery, where they witness a scene that can be best described as danse macabre – the so-called Emperor, a powerful demon (perhaps Death itself?), summons the souls of the damned to dance for him. Among his lackeys are a werewolf and a mummy, who discover and capture the couple. The demons argue about what they should do with them and in the end the couple is saved by the first rays of sunlight of the dawning day. Subsequently, they wake up at the scene of their car accident, which suggests that everything that happened was just a dream.

1967

Mad Monster Party


Staring Boris Karloff, famous for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in 1931’s Frankenstein,  as Baron Boris von Frankenstein (we see what you did there, movie), this production is a stop motion animated comedy featuring numerous classic Universal Studios monsters and more. Karloff’s character orders his assistant, Francesca, to send out invitations to all known monsters for a party he will be hosting on his Isle of Evil. Once they’ve all arrived, Baron Boris announces his plans to retire as the head of the ‘Worldwide Organization of Monsters’ and names his nephew, Felix, as his successor, much to Francesca’s dismay. He also reveals that he’s developed a secret formula for total destruction. The monsters decide to get rid of Boris’s successor and steal the formula for themselves, but are prevented from doing so by the arrival of one monster that’s not been invited - a King-Kong-like giant gorilla. While the gorilla wreaks havoc on the island, Felix and Francesca escape by boat, while the Baron, furious with the monsters for wanting to kill his nephew and steal the formula, drops the vial with the destructive compound and annihilates the island along with himself and all the monsters on it.

Dr Terror's Gallery of Horrors
(Return From the Past)


Just like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors from 1962, this low-budget movie is an anthology film, meaning that instead of having one plot-line, it tells several shorter stories in succession. Due to the uncanny similarity of its title to the 1962 production, it has been released under many different names over the years. John Carradine plays the Narrator who tells five horror stories, each with a humorous twist ending. The last one, ‘Count Alucard’, is a variation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and possesses a twist ending in which it turns out that Jonathan Harker is a werewolf.

1968

La Marca del Hombre Lobo 
(Mark of the Wolfman / Frankenstein's Bloody Terror)


Thanks to his role as Count Waldemar Daninsky – a werewolf – in this movie and its many sequels over the next thirty-odd years, Paul Naschy gained fame in the film industry as Spain’s Lon Chaney, Jr. The movie opens up with a drunken Gypsy couple who decide to spend the night at the abandoned Wolfstein castle. While there, they discover the tomb of its owner, Imre Wolfstein. When they remove the silver cross that was buried with him, the man – who turns out to be a werewolf – rises from the dead, kills the couple, and proceeds to go on a rampage through the nearby village. Blaming ordinary wolves for the attack, the villagers organise a hunting party to track down the animals. During the hunt, one of the members of the party, Count Waldemar Daninsky, is attacked by the werewolf Imre and becomes afflicted with werewolfism. Once he transforms, he starts killing people. Realising this, he seeks help from a pair of doctors, who eventually turn out to be vampires. Instead of helping Daninsky, the two nosferatu resurrect Imre Wolfstein and pit the two werewolves against each other. Daninsky manages to defeat Wolfstein, kills the vampires, but in the end is shot dead by a woman who loves him.

Las Noches del Hombre Lobo 
(Nights of the Werewolf / Nights of the Wolfman)

(poster unavailable)

Widely regarded as the second film starring Paul Naschy as the famous Count Waldemar Daninsky, it is a cinematic mystery of its own. The reason for this is that it is uncertain whether or not the script for this movie was at all filmed, since it was never theatrically released nor was it ever released on video. The only person who maintained that it was actually filmed was Paul Naschy himself. It is possible that he made the movie up to boost his popularity. The little that we know of the supposed plot is that Count Daninsky was supposed to become a guinea pig for a mad scientist who learns how to manipulate him using sound waves and uses him to achieve his personal goals (namely, revenge, as usual). Some people suggest that, owing to the great similarity of the storylines, this film somehow became the later Fury of the Wolf Man, but it is all just speculation. Adding to the confusion, another film of Naschy’s, El Retorno del Hombre Lobo, was released on DVD under the title Night of the Werewolf, but of course the two have nothing to do with each other whatsoever.

1969

Blood of Dracula's Castle


A photographer inherits an old castle from his late uncle. However, it turns out that the castle has been rented for over half a century by an old couple who look surprisingly young for their age – Count Townsend and his wife. It is then revealed that Count Townsend is, in fact, Count Dracula and that he and his wife use the castle as their hideout, to which they lure young girls who they then drain of blood for sustenance. In time, they are joined by their old acquaintance, Johnny, who has broken out of prison. The thing about Johnny, though, is that during the full moon, he goes berserk and turns into a werewolf-like monster. When the photographer and his fiancée visit the castle, the vampires and their lackeys devise a plan to do away with them in order to keep both the castle and their secret to themselves.

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And that's another seventeen movies listed! I have to say, it took me longer than expected to finish this part, as I've been a little busy in real life. Still, please stay tuned for Part III, which will present movies from 1970 to 1989 (at least, like always, that is the plan). And there is quite a lot of them during that period, so it might take me a while to compile all the descriptions ;) I might actually cut the list for the next part to just ten years, because otherwise the post will most likely stretch all the way down to the South Pole. As a comparison, the above included 17 movies. The number of productions that were made between 1970 and 1980 alone equals 29 (give or take). Between 1980 and 1990, we are looking at around 38 productions, so the post would have to contain 58 entries. Yeah, now that I've given it some thought and did some simple math, I think making Part III include movies between 1970 and 1980 the better option.

Anyway, the next time I post something it will probably be full moon, so it will be time for this month's Werewolf Movie Review. As promised, this time we take a look at the remake of The Wolf Man from 1941, which was featured as last month's review. That said, I will see you again soon!