Sunday, 18 September 2011

Video Nasty #38 - Werewolf and the Yeti

For various reasons, this 1975 Paul Naschy vehicle remains one of the more obscure entries on the Video Nasties list, a film that has been somewhat marginalized over the years, not least of all for the schlocky title the UK Cannon tape was released under (Night of the Howling Beast, the US Super Video title is far more agreeable). Also, the film has not so far secured an English-language DVD release, apparently the licensor of the film is looking for an exorbitant sum which might explain it's absence from BCI's Naschy re-issue program. This is a shame as The Werewolf and the Yeti is one of most enjoyable films on the DPP's list and is a perfect introduction into the world of Paul Naschy.


During an expedition to Tibet to locate the mythical Yeti, Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy) breaks away from the party and unwittingly falls into the clutches of two cave-dwelling demon sisters. Waldemar is bitten by one of the sisters causing him to turn into a werewolf with the arrival of the full moon. Meanwhile the expedition party has been attacked by bandits, the survivors taken as prisoners of local despot Sekkar Khan and his beautiful but deadly sorceress Wandessa... The Werewolf and the Yeti is the eight outing for Naschy's Waldemar Daninsky character, eternally cursed with a bad case of lycanthropy, and here the nudity, sex and violence has evolved considerably since 1968's Mark of the Wolfman. The plot of the film (written by Naschy himself) is at times a little too busy, but the film moves with a furious pace from one set piece to another with little opportunity to ponder the absurdity of it all.


Paul Naschy as the wolfman turns in another sterling performance, but was reportedly unhappy with the finished film. And while he doesn't quite nail the pathos that Lon Chaney Jr. brought to the role in Universal's Wolfman (due it seems to an insensitive director), Naschy attacks his part with great enthusiasm, performing much of his own stunts - unlike the lumbering wolfman of previous incarnations, Naschy's wolfman is positively athletic, swooping and diving at his prey. The werewolf transformations are primitive at best, seen in a series of simple dissolves but Naschy makes it all work. The Yeti itself hardly deserves a mention in the title of the film, only appearing briefly in two scenes (mercifully so, considering his tawdry costume), but not to short-change fans of monster mash-ups, the Yeti does get to square off with the wolfman in the film's climax.


Undoubtedly one of the film's biggest assets are the visuals. The interior scenes were filmed in Barcelona, with exterior sequences shot at the Val d'Aran, a valley in the Pyrenees mountains of northern Spain. Obviously no stand-in for Tibet, the locations chosen for the film are often quite striking, the action taking place in snow covered forests, river gorges and desolate mountain slopes. Tomas Pladevall’s cinematography is quite sumptuous, the candy-colored lighting distinctly Bava-esque in flavour, and the film often looks like a hybrid of Hercules in the Haunted World and Fritz Lang's Indian Epic films. All of which forgives some of the film's creakier moments like an obvious model depicting Khan's castle and a bizarre montage of Tibetan postcard scenes kicking off the film proper.


As was the custom of Naschy's films, The Werewolf and the Yeti was shot for release in two versions - for the racier scenes, the actors were filmed clothed and unclothed. In the sequence where Naschy is seduced by the demon sisters, the actresses are seen wearing see-thru gowns in the clothed version, while the alternative version features full nudity. The explicit version, nowadays the rarer of the two to see, is much sought after by fans for obvious reasons, but significantly the unclothed version features an extra scene not in the other version, where Naschy is seen canoodling with topless co-star Grace Mills. Unfortunately, the clothed version is the one available on DVD in Spain courtesy of Tripictures (sadly with no English subs included). Luckily a fansub of the Spanish DVD (which looks tremendous) is out there so I would recommend tracking that down in lieu of an official English language release.

8 comments:

  1. This was the first Paul Naschy film I ever watched - and although I wasn't sure what to expect, I really enjoyed it. The primative werewolf transformations/simple dissolves still managed to creep me out! There was something quite striking and oddly effective about them. I must endevour to check out more of the Waldemar Daninsky sagas.

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  2. Naschy's movies are a huge blind spot for me Wes, this sounds like fun so I'll take your advice and try to track down the fansub of the dvd. Congratulations by the way on hitting 50,000 views.

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  3. Many thanks for the comments guys ! For years I dismissed this film as a piece of schlocky trash (not helped by that awful title and the horrible video sleeve) so it came as some surprise when I discovered what a decent film it really is. I much prefer it to Naschy fan-favourite Horror Rises from the Tomb.

    James those stills are taken from the Spanish DVD which looks fantastic I must say. I've seen a rip of the more explicit version version of the film and it looks very bootleggy in comparison. Incidentally, the Cannon tape commands big bucks these days, it's quite rare...

    Many thanks Mart for the 50K views ! I totally missed that one. I wish I was so well read - I'm sure those blogger stats are well off the map. I usually measure success if people feel sufficiently moved to leave a comment, but fuck it, I'll take the 50,000 hits anyway !

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  4. Yes, Congratulations, Wes and another excellent review. I haven't seen any Naschy films either but this one sounds like a lot of fun (wonder why it was included by the DPP?)

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  5. Thanks Jon... it's really mystifying why the DPP felt moved to rescue the nation from this one - a few minor trims to the violence and the clothed version could easily play on daytime TV. But yes, I would highly recommend this film, fans of Universal's Horror pics and Hammer-heads will certainly enjoy it...

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  6. I am enjoying working my way through Naschy's movies - this one is still in my future...

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  7. This is a movie I like to promote Craig, lurking behind that schlocky Werewolf & the Yeti title is a rather superb old school monster movie. I've heard people say this is the worst of the Nasties which leads me to believe that the Nasties are probably more discussed than actually watched !

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