The Werewolf vs.
the Vampire Woman

Dir: Leon Klimovsky
Star: Paul Naschy, Gaby Fuchs, Barbara Capell, Andres Fuerno

The bedroom floor is being retiled, so until the grout dries, we've moved the bed into our living room. This is good in some ways - we get a much nicer TV set for one - but it just makes it too easy to fall asleep. Previously, if we had a movie of questionable quality, we would at least be sitting on the sofa; now, we're sprawled among soft, pillowy fluffiness and...well, I trust I need not draw you a picture. That's why it took us 14 hours to watch this: an hour at the start, nine hours kip, then breakfast, answer emails and finally, catch the final half hour, previously seen only through our eyelids.

We needn't have bothered. The 1970 film has a decent setup - even if the supposed French location is shown only in postcards, I kid not - but doesn't know what to do after pitting revived vampire Countess Waldessa against brave lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy). They battle over Elvira (Fuchs), who is up-country doing research for a thesis with friend Genevieve (Capell), when they "accidentally" resurrect the countess. Quotes used advisedly, since yanking out the crucifix on which Waldessa's corpse is impaled, then bleeding into her mouth, would seem to expand the definition of 'accidentally' to new territory. Genevieve is turned vamp; a creepy handyman pops up; Waldemar's demented sister gets involved; and the vampires wander around in slow-motion a lot, before we finally reach the actual "vs." bit of the film, which lasts approximately two minutes.

Also known as Blood Moon, Werewolf Shadow and Night of the Walpurgis, it's hamstrung by limited resources and poor execution. Witness, in particular, the transformation into a werewolf; it'd barely have been credible in Lon Chaney Jr's era, and this primitive approach is typical of the whole film. Naschy's career largely centred on Daninsky; he portrayed the character 13 times, and while a tragic figure, it's not enough to support the movie. Score one for pillowy fluffiness.

October 2004

Definite 'Greatest Poster Ever' candidate
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