Summary: A man has had a werewolf curse cast upon him. If he doesn’t get rid of it, he turns into a killer werewolf when the moon is full.
bat brought this to my attention, and I was immediately charmed. It’s apparently one movie in a series about the werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky. Fingers crossed that we don’t need to have seen any of the other movies, because I certainly haven’t. (Note from the future: They appear to be standalones.)
[bat: I think my initial exposure to this film was via a poster design of the following film in the series – which is the loosest use of “series” ever – and I was intrigued enough to look into it. And then promptly discovered a whole subsection of cinema I had never been exposed to. I’m so glad Wing was game to play along and do something completely different for this year’s edition. Thanks, Wing!
I would also like to state that this film stars the late, great Spanish horror actor Paul Naschy, who played a version of the wolfman more times than Lon Chaney ever did. He was, in fact, dubbed the “Spanish Lon Chaney” for all the times he portrayed the classic horror characters we all know and love on film. This movie hails from the Hombre Lobo “series” which are (very loosely) tied together by the main character he plays in this film. One of which is either a total fever dream recounted by Naschy or lost forever due to some inexplicable misfortune. Do yourself a favor and at least read the wiki article on him.]
Note: I struggle throughout this to recognize characters. I thought about cleaning up all the incorrect references and my confusion, but NOPE! You get all my ridiculous failings. You’re welcome, dear readers. You’re welcome.
Delighted to bring a classic of Spanish horror to Snark at the Moon! this year.
When the heliotrope starts growing among sharp rocks and the full moon shines at night, in a certain area of the earth, a man turns into a wolf.
Can’t help but love a movie that starts with a werewolf worldbuilding quote like that. (Also, I went down a rabbit hole about heliotrope. If you’d like to join me, I started here.) [bat: I have never heard of heliotrope + werewolves. I am intrigued.] [Wing: Me neither, hence the rabbit hole! It was interesting. I still don’t know why heliotrope + werewolves though.]
Title card, actor names over what I assume are clips from the movie (with far too much shaky cam) and we open with great crashes of thunder and lightning and Waldemar sweeping a woman into a desperate kiss. [bat: Oh god more trees, what is this, Bad Moon all over again??]
Waldemar’s gone through a horrific experience. On his last expedition, his entire team was buried under the snow. He was fortunately only wounded, though.
After an offscreen sexual reunion with his wife, we see Waldemar, complete with a bite scar on his chest, stand before a window to dramatically look up at the moon. (A moon that looks very much like a light bright enough to be used as a sun, in a basically clear, daytime sky, despite the ongoing storm sounds throughout this night scene.)
He takes out a tiny box but doesn’t do more than quickly look inside. His mind spins into memories of what happened to him on the expedition, a Yeti attack, [Wing: A. Yeti. Attack. For a werewolf movie. Okay then.] [bat: It makes sense if you don’t think about it.] the mark of a pentagram that may appear in his scar. If it does, the little box contains the cure. If it does not, after seven full moons he must destroy the box without opening it. [bat: I kind of like that it’s a 50/50 shot. I also love that plausible deniability exists but they just happen to totally have a boxed cure on hand to give out when Yeti attacks “don’t happen”.]
Alas, a pentagram has appeared in the scar, and it is time for something monstrous to happen to him.
Lots of flashback to his time on the expedition and the echoing sound of the man who bandaged him after he was injured telling him about the pentagram. After the avalanche took out his team, the Yeti attacked him, though he struggles to believe it wasn’t simply a hallucination.
Skip to a woman in a white lab coat walking down the hall to join a presentation where another woman talks about how it’s possible to use a certain frequency on the brain and use that to create a being in a laboratory, control all emotion, cure brains damaged by insanity, know all the things currently unknown by man — you know, nothing much at all.
(Also: Not everyone wants to be cured, even if there was a magic switch to flip. Or flip to switch, as I first typed. I want to switch a flip. I don’t want to be cured. I do want treatment that helps me function.)
I believe the woman giving the talk is Dr. Ilona Ellmann. No idea who the other woman is. I am struggling to tell people apart. Dr. Ellmann’s assistant, but that’s it.
Back to our dear Professor Waldemar — I think, see above about my inability to tell people apart right now — who is giving a different sort of lecture over a body (probably dead). He has a shaky moment where something is clearly wrong but swears that he’s just fine, nothing to see here, certainly not a man turning into a monster.
Dr. Ellmann meets with Waldemar because he called her in to consult on his strange illness. He gives her that little box and tells her she’ll find the answers inside it. The answers that are supposed to be a cure for you, Waldemar. I suppose this is goodness and scientific curiosity wanting to explore the cure and perhaps share it with others?
Dr. Ellmann orders him to meet her at her apartment that night for a follow-up after she’s examined the box. He warns her that this disease came from Tibet where strange things happen that science not only can’t explain but flat out won’t admit to existing.
Dr. Ellmann is real pleased with the challenge this presents, though she doesn’t believe his stories about people changing personalities at the full moon. [bat: I like that it’s “personalities” that supposedly change, and not a “turning into a hairy pseudo-wolf-person hybrid” change.]
Waldemar continues to struggle with waves of the illness, which shows up as weakness and a little staggering.
Oh, the assistant is Karen, I think, and she frets over Waldemar, thinks he returned to his classes too soon. She then shares her concerns over Dr. Ellmann’s work. She thinks Dr. Ellmann is entering a territory that is forbidden; it’s already clear that Dr. Ellmann is intrigued by strange science, a little obsessed. I love her for it.
Karen says it’s like playing with mankind’s deepest feelings, going against nature, but Waldemar reassures her. It works because she deeply admires him, though he doesn’t pick up what she’s putting down.
Waldemar receives a letter that tells him that his wife is having an affair with one of his students and gives him instructions on how to catch her. Yet another dude is dramatically watching Waldemar. The student in question, wanting to force Erika (I think that’s the wife’s name) to choose? Someone else trying to get Erika and the student in trouble? Someone in love with Waldemar and wanting to free him?
Baiting a werewolf. I hope it’s going to be a good time, but with this movie, at this point, who knows.
Karen also dramatically stares after him, as does the other dude. Neither of you are subtle, dears.
The dude calls and tells … who? Erika? That he’s done it. She’s not nearly as excited about it as he is. I wish there were (a) subtitles and (b) name tags. (He’s Erika’s Loverboy!)
Waldemar internally rants and roars over Erika’s unfaithfulness, drives erratically in his rage (oh, the dramatic face acting because they can’t show much of the car), dramatically stomps on the brake pedal, and ends up wrecking the car. I think. We don’t see anything, only hear it, but it sure sounds like screeching tires and and out of control vehicle about to hit something to me. [bat: Someone off screen is clearly rocking this car while it is in park, while Naschy acts “dramatic”. I am greatly amused.]
Oh, Loverboy gave Waldemar the letter because he refuses to only have time with Erika three days a week when Waldemar teaches his classes. This had to be done. I, uh, don’t think this is exactly how it had to go. For one thing, she could have, you know, left her husband. I guess. Not sure how this is really any different than that in practice except that now you’ve put him in a much worse mindset right off the bat and added treachery to this as well.
…though perhaps the point is to get him upset enough to crash his car and kill himself. Erika certainly wishes he’d died in the storm that ruined the expedition, setting her free. Damn, woman. That’s cold.
Now all Erika and Loverboy have to do is be together, never separate, and it’s impossible that anything will ever happen.
Except for the fact that you just told her husband about an affair? And he’s turning into a monster, though I’ll admit, they don’t actually know that. This all makes perfect sense.
Karen tells her fiancé, William, that he better not stand in her way because she’ll have her degree in a few months, she loves science, and she and her parents sacrificed a lot so that she can study under Dr. Ellmann. He promises he will not try to hold her back, but he also badmouths the doctor. Karen tells him he’s jealous and a little selfish, which is funny considering she was just telling Waldemar about her own concerns with Doc. [bat: The giant TASSELS on her coat(?) are wild. Man, 70s fashion, there’s just nothing else like it.]
Waldemar staggers into his home, disheveled and bloody from the car crash. He shouts for Erika, but of course, she’s not there, she’s off with Loverboy. (I say shouts, but it’s not all that energetic, actually. All the reactions in this movie are fairly flat. I can see that they’re going for intense emotions, but it’s not really coming across. Wonder if it’s an acting style for the time and place.) [bat: I think some of it is the English dubbing, or something being quite literally lost in translation.] [Wing: You’re right, some of it is the dubbing, but some of it is the physical acting, too. Compare some of the facial expressions during dramatic conversations versus the (beautifully) over the top expressions during car scenes. (I wish I’d been able to watch with English subtitles rather than a dub.)]
Another storm that night and the police(?) are investigating the car accident, which is strange, the police investigator says, because there is a killer and there must also be a victim.
There’s … a … killer? What the fuck happened in that crash, Waldemar?! [bat: Whoa, giant plot twist!]
The police now have to find them both.
Waldemar goes to Dr. Ellmann for help. She lives with Karen, but Waldemar wants to talk to her alone. He admits that Erika’s been cheating and the accident was fixed. Aha! So it was Erika and Loverboy planning to kill him! They damaged the brakes. [bat: The giant band-aid on his face cracks me up. He didn’t even have a wound there!]
So the police have already determined that, I suppose, and that’s why the killer and victim statement. Makes far more sense. I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time focusing, but I wish I would get past it! [bat: It’s not you, Wing, it’s the actual film. Apparently it was a right mess of a shoot and the end result is a bigger mess.] [Wing: Cursed film! Cursed film! Cursed film! (Not that kind of Cursed.)]
Doc knew about the affair! Waldemar is displeased. She begs him to get ahold of himself, tells him Erika isn’t worth destroying himself — and all of this would make far more sense if there was any real emotion from him, but it’s all very flat! It is the visual equivalent of a book telling but now showing. Strange, strange, strange. [bat: I wonder what it sounds like in its native language.]
He says Erika’s love is the only thing that gave him strength to fight against his secret disease. Dr. Ellmann promises him she can operate and cure him. She’s the only one he’s shared his secret with, for the sake of the love they had for each other, she must cure him.
…the love you had for each other? How many people are or have been or want to be involved in this movie?!
Karen confronts Dr. Ellmann with the fact that she knows Waldemar disappointed Dr. Ellmann at some point and that is why she’s always so sad. The good doc slaps her right across the face, then begs for forgiveness and hugs her close.
Yes, yes, I ship it, of course I do. They can have a monstrous threesome.
The servants tell — Erika? — that dinner is served and they’d like to leave because there is a bad storm. Plus the storm has damaged the wires and she won’t have any light, though the phone still works. [bat: Peter, the telephone man! So random.]
It rings, she knocks over a candelabra, though no fire comes from it (yet, I hope), and Waldemar startles her. He wraps his hands around her throat, tells her that he came back to her and their love will be stronger than ever, she’s his, she must realize it, he’d die a million times over to make her love him, etc. etc. etc., very creepy relationship manipulation, not romantic, my man. [bat: Yikes, dude, get a grip. Not literally on her throat. Also, how did none of that ostrich feather on that slinky robe catch fire? Strange.] [Wing: So many candles knocked over, so much flammable material, so little fire.]
And then he grows fur. It’s meant to be dramatic. It is not. And not just because the sfx are not great. I can roll with that (see, e.g., that time Oz on BtVS looked like a mop and yet I still loved him), but the lack of emotion in his face kills it for me, as does Erika’s subdued response. [bat: Wait, how did they end up in bed??? I’m so confused!] [Wing: Sometimes it feels like pieces of the physical film just flat disappeared during the final cut.]
Waldemar attacks Erika in their bed, perhaps eats some of her, though it doesn’t look like it, exactly. While the storm rages, Loverboy enters the house, finds a dead Erika, drops a candle (and yet still nothing burns!) [bat: Clearly this house and all its contents are fireproof! Magic!], and he, too, becomes a victim of the Waldemar Wolf!
Waldemar, smeared with very little blood considering he just killed two people, goes running off outside making noises more like a man pretending to be a chimp than anything else. [bat: This may be actual footage from the 1968 film The Mark of the Wolfman, aka the “first” film in this series, added in to make the run time of this film “long enough”. Like I said, the making of this film was a complete and utter disaster.]
He eventually calms and drags himself through the rain and trees until he — runs into an electric fence? I honestly can’t tell. [bat: …what the hell was that? LOL!]
Thank god the movie very quickly gives me an answer via newspaper. The two lovers are dead, Waldemar died of electrocution (but I thought the wires were down and the electricity out!), and the good doctor is intrigued by the horrible wounds left on Erika and Loverboy. [bat: For a werewolf, Waldemar sure bites people like he’s a vampire.] [Wing: He does!]
She tells Karen that she’ll be gone overnight and Karen should prepare to join her just in case.
These transitions are ridiculous, and by ridiculous I mean nonexistent.
Dr. Ellmann lectures and says she’ll explain once more: The control of the cerebral cortex and hypothalamus is always possible through using chemitrodes. Recent experiments demonstrate up to what point it is possible to direct the human brain — any direction they want. The reactions are, though, unforeseeable.
She orders a moment of silence for Waldemar.
No, really, give me a fucking transition! Please! [bat: A side wipe, a star fade, anything would be helpful!]
Two men discuss the belief that Waldemar’s death was not a mere accident and the investigator? Reporter? Wants more information about Waldemar’s investigations and travels. The man answering the questions says that since he returned from his last expedition, the one where he was the sole survivor, he seemed nervous and ill at ease in ways he didn’t before. (Note from the future: Reporter! This is one thing I’m cleaning up, because I used investigator for him and for the police and that got real confusing. Though to be honest, I’m not sure I’m actually correct every time I distinguish between them, so that’s fun.)
Dr. Ellmann thinks about the Tibet parchment and how it says Waldemar can only die under certain conditions which did not occur with electrocution, and she’s well pleased that not only does he live, but also things are proceeding exactly as she wants. [bat: Wait, did Dr. Ellmann set up Waldemar to get bitten?? What a plot twist that would be!] [Wing: O.O I don’t think so, but omg can you imagine?!]
Reporter gathers information about Dr. Ellmann’s experiments from Karen. She describes it as an attempt by science to dominate humanity through absolute control of the brain. That is creepy and fuck, and absolutely believable that someone would want to do it, and I love Dr. Ellmann and Karen and their obsession with this in different ways.
Dr. Ellmann orders Waldemar’s body dug up and sure enough, he’s been buried alive. Fucking horrifying thought, that. Not only is he becoming a monster and trying to fight it, not only did he kill his wife and Loverboy, not only was he fucking electrocuted, but then he was buried alive. [bat: He is the Timex of werewolves! Takes a
licking electrocution and keeps on ticking!]
Dr. Ellmann believes that Waldemar’s mind has been dominated by the things he went through, and she does not fear the monster.
Karen tries to explain to her fiancé that she’s going on a trip, but she doesn’t know why or where. He’s unhappy with how much influence Dr. Ellmann has over Karen. While on the one hand, fuck off, fiancé, let her have her studies and her science, as she wants. On the other hand, he’s not wrong that it’s weird Karen doesn’t know where or why she’s traveling.
Karen promises to write him while she’s gone. I didn’t realize the trip was going to be that long. [bat: Maybe this is supposed to be set in the “future” and she’s just going to send an email?]
Dr. Ellmann takes Karen off deep into the woods to an isolated castle. Waldemar is, of course, with them, as well as men who help her move Waldemar around. Already a patient there is a man in a strange mask. [bat: Is it made of… iron?] Later, Doc tells Karen that he is no one, just a sick man like all the rest of them. [bat: Sure, doc.]
Doc also now has a giant dog, and (a) Giant Doggo better live and (b) I want Giant Doggo. (Note from the future: Pretty sure he survives!) [bat: Oh thank goodness, I can’t take another doggo loss.]
The Doc drugs the men through the wine she gives them, and she’s not subtle about it at fucking all. Real smooth, Doc. But they drink it down anyway. [bat: Would they also like some basghetti?
Waldemar’s heart is weak, but they use electrical waves to strengthen it. It will make his mind superhuman, too. Karen worries that what they’re doing is very dangerous. [bat: I can’t believe I have to ask this. HOW DOES ELECTRICITY WORK?] [Wing: LOLOLOL]
Hettie and Barbara join Karen watching over Waldemar’s body. Karen is a new friend for them, Dr. Ellmann says. Doc, you get kinkier and kinkier. I love this isolated castle full of science and women. [bat: I sure find movies with kinky science women for Wing to love without even trying.] [Wing: It’s an innate skill of yours. One I highly appreciate.]
The laboratories are in underground cellars. Doc has been preparing Karen for years so she can join the work. [bat: Sounds sus. Is it a kinky fringe science slash sex cult?] [Wing: O.O YES PLEASE.]
Reporter is not surprised at all to hear that Waldemar’s corpse was stolen from the cemetery. (Reporter’s name is William, apparently.) (Note from the future: I know. I know. Give it a second.) He has some ideas of his own, but refuses to share them with … his editor? Boss? Who knows.
He sneaks into Waldemar’s home but doesn’t get far before a law enforcement investigator catches him and tells him that he needs to be authorized in order to be at a crime scene. Police investigator knows what William has been investigating (the scientific studies, Tibet legends, etc.), and warns him to stay out of things. William the Reporter will not be set aside, though.
Oh shit! This is Karen’s fiance! I really am not recognizing any faces. [bat: To be fair, they all have dark hair and terrible 70s clothes, so I had trouble, too.] Karen is also a person of interest with the police because of her close work with Dr. Ellmann.
Waldemar’s treatment is painful, or highly erotic, or both, hard to tell.
A woman sneaks around the laboratories, Hettie or Barbara catches her, tells her she must be braver to be one of Dr. Ellmann’s students. The sneaking woman calls this witchery, not science, and claims it is terrible to experiment on humans. Barbara or Hettie tells her this is scientific work to create mutants [bat: Are we talking X-Men mutants? Or Dr. Moreau mutants? How is Tibet and a Yeti involved??] and the sneaking woman, horrified, backs herself straight into a trap.
Screams wake Karen. When she goes in search of the source, she’s accosted by a man who then runs away and leaves her stumbling through a room full of statues until she collapses into Dr. Ellmann’s arms.
Dr. Ellmann with her harem of scientific women is wonderful.
William wants to change his focus from the legal investigation to the secrets the scientists are keeping from everyone.
Dr. Ellmann tells Karen that they must wait for the next full moon.
Karen doesn’t understand why Doc is keeping people under her protection, keeping them like animals, but Dr. Ellmann swears that she is working to make them human again, to save them. [bat: Oh damn, it is a Moreau-esque experiment…]
That promise is not enough for Karen, who also sometimes feels that she and all the others, including Hettie and Barbara, are only experiments for the good doctor. She is sullen over this, and does not answer when Dr. Ellermann asks if Karen really thinks she’s capable of such things.
Laboratory of chained people! Doc, you live a very interesting life.
The masked man wanders around and when the scientists are away, an orgy breaks out in the room of chained people. [bat: Apple juice, anyone?]
So. Are their sexual appetites increased? If yes, is this a symptom of their “illnesses” or of their treatment? Is this breakdown of social norms what our good doctor wants to see? Is this a criticism of deviant sexuality while at the same time uplifting it (in some ways) with Doc’s castle of sex and science? [bat: Is this just typical Spanish cinema made during the 1970s?] [Wing: I wish I knew! I will have to look into this.]
Speaking of Dr. Ellmann, she is very happy to see Waldemar awake. He wants to know why she gave him life, but she offers no answer.
The full moon comes around. Waldemar is chained, and Dr. Ellmann comes to question him about the effects of her work. He becomes furry again, and she demands answers from him, how much of his humanity remains during the transformation.
She beats him with a whip, and since she’s wearing a very fancy, sexy dress and keeps staring at him like she wants to devour him, the secret cellar laboratory orgies appear to have spread.
Somehow, Waldemar gets free and flings himself out a window. Last time he ran like this, he accidentally electrocuted himself and then was buried alive. Not sure running away from the whipping is any better than staying there and taking it. Some people like to have a dominant woman beat them, Waldemar.
Waldemar staggers around until he breaks into a building and attacks a man who is studying or writing letters or something. He kills the men as he did his wife and Loverboy, which is to say, we’re meant to believe he tears out their throats, but the wounds just don’t look that bad. Not bad enough to kill, even, much less be a throat torn out by a monster.
(Am I supposed to know who that man was? Because I don’t.)
A woman finds him and calls … the newspaper office? Why can’t I tell the difference between the police station and the newspaper office? She can’t talk, though, too terrified and shaken by what she’s seen.
Waldemar returns to his outdoor wandering. [bat: A happy little nature walk will calm him down!]
The police investigator visits with the woman, but she still can’t talk. They find a piece of cloth in the victim’s hand and set the bloodhounds following the scent.
Meanwhile, Waldemar becomes a peeping tom, lurking in a window and watching a woman — should I know who she is? — change. He joins her in her bed, leaving her panting in what looks like post-coital bliss though I think it’s meant to be terror, but flees before the investigators arrive.
For all that he’s being chased, Waldemar sure is sauntering around. He breaks into yet another house, attacks yet another couple, and this time there is at least some violence and dramatic blood, though still nothing near as wild and dangerous and terrifying as we’re meant to read it, I think.
Waldemar returns to his saunter through the wilds of whatever actually-not-all-that-isolated place Doc took him, and the investigators with their bloodhounds continue to hunt him until they lose the trail.
How? How did they lose the trail? It’s not like he’s trying real hard to cover his tracks and at this point, the dogs should have a good whiff of all the fucking blood he’s tracking everywhere. [bat: Maybe the dog was days from retirement and said, fuck this shit, let the werewolf have his fun.] [Wing: Wouldn’t blame them.]
Dr. Ellmann leaves Karen to the Waldemar experiments. Doc must collect more supplies, she tells Karen, who is leery. She demands to know what Doc plans to do with Waldemar. Doc says that if she succeeds, all of the violence, all of the instincts that come from a lack of love, will disappear.
Karen slinks her way off her bed, showing a lot of thigh and moving in a real seductive manner. Is this is a castle of science or a castle of sex? (False question, it is both!)
Dr. Ellmann gives Karen some dominant voice and orders to be a nice girl and follow the rules. I’m telling you, this is Doc’s isolated sex castle. [bat: Are there a lot of these isolated sex castles in Spain? I’m wondering now, because (allegedly) the iron chandelier in my dining room was salvaged from a Spanish castle…] [Wing: The one trip I had to Spain was bereft of isolated sex castles. I MUST RETURN AND TRY AGAIN!]
Karen waits until Dr. Ellmann leaves before she starts exploring again, running into locked doors and frustration. Waldemar comes staggering down the stairs behind her. He has flashbacks to his kills, and Karen gets all close and sexually tense next to him before strapping him to the table and starting the experiments again.
He wants to know where the Doc is, and Karen tells him that they two of them are trapped and Doc is gone for now.
Waldemar only has vague memories of violence and danger but no real knowledge of where he’s been. Karen tells him that Dr. Ellmann dominated him, had control over Karen, too. She’s ashamed, but there’s no way to escape. [bat: So Karen is the Star of the film.]
Waldemar refuses to give up and drags her along with him searching for a way out.
The building is apparently hermetically sealed. [bat: Electrically? Sure. Why not.] Waldemar tries to force the door, and I suppose he is supposed to have extra strength, so maybe it will work.
He leaves Karen alone but for the decorative suit of armor behind her.
But lo! It is not decorative! It moves, it grabs her, everything is filmed with a very sexualized threat. Karen passes out and the suit of armor carries her away.
The dungeon orgy has moved to a dining room? Or some place with the alcohol they’re not meant to have. Waldemar collects a weapon from the wall, and axe, and leaves them to their orgy.
Elsewhere, he has to fight the armored man. It takes very little time but a lot of dramatic music with horns for Waldemar to beat him. Karen is conveniently tucked into a nearby corner, so Waldemar can find her and carry her away.
This one I’m going to give him. Werewolf, probably has advanced senses and strength, sure, why not a pointless fight and a direct path to finding the woman.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ellmann tells William that Karen did not leave with her no matter what Karen told him. Doc says that Karen told her she was going off with William, then offers the idea that she must have gone to visit her parents.
She plays at being worried and says that if Karen doesn’t return in another day, she’ll call the police.
Conveniently, the police are already there to speak to the good doctor. The police investigator is annoyed to see William yet again and sends him out while he questions Dr. Ellmann.
Oooh, now we have dramatic flute music while William walks and smokes and thinks. [bat: Dramatic Latin Flute is my new favorite music genre!]
He lingers outside until he can follow Dr. Ellmann when she leaves. She leads him into the woods where her remote science and sex castle awaits.
Waldemar and Karen still have not escaped the castle. [bat: Why would you want to escape a sexy science-themed orgy-filled castle?] [Wing: One that includes a werewolf, even! Clearly I would never leave.] Waldemar finds a wall with fresh paint and breaks into it, hoping to find an escape route that way. Instead, the bodies of the two men Dr. Ellmann poisoned. Silly men, why’d you drink that drink from her?
Karen wants to free all the people who are locked up like beasts. Waldemar warns her it could be dangerous, but she is certain that they trust her. They unlock them and immediately the people attack Waldemar. Karen orders them away and they actually listen because Karen was always kind to them, unlike Dr. Ellmann and the others.
Everyone runs free around the science and sex castle. That’s a moving orgy right there. [bat: Caligula would be damn proud. Or something.]
Waldemar doesn’t want to go on any longer. He can only be killed by another beast or by a woman who loves him enough to kill him with a silver bullet. My, how convenient that Karen has spent this entire movie staring at you as if she wants to climb you like a tree. [bat: Ah, but does she have a silver bullet?]
Karen tells him that she would die for him. That’s not what he asked though, sweetheart. He asked you to kill for him.
Karen suggests they break into Dr. Ellmann’s room. Maybe she hid something helpful there.
They spend a good deal of time climbing up and down stone steps in this half of the movie. Far too much time on that, far too little violence or sex. (Yes, despite the violence and sex we’ve had. Almost anything is better than the sauntering werewolf and the slow walking up and down stairs.) [bat: And the ridiculous scene transitions.]
In Doc’s room they find something from Dr. Wolfstein dated 1933 and continue to look through her books and drawers. Dr. Ellmann has her desk entirely covered with books and dramatically-angled candles. I love Dr. Ellmann.
Karen soon finds a different Wolfstein’s diary from 1967. It’s the good doctor writing about Waldemar deciding to marry Erika and not even the reminder of the love they shared can stop him!
It also contains notes on Doc’s progress with her experiments and how she forced Erika and Loverboy to have their affair. She can target the electric waves and can control people from afar.
She writes of Waldemar revealing to her that he thinks he was cursed by a werewolf. She’s determined to make it a reality, set him to killing his wife, and then force him to commit suicide.
The moving orgy now looks like a hippy orgy. They attack Karen and Waldemar again. The fight devolves into Waldemar and his opponent, the masked man, rolling down the stairs. Eventually, Waldemar prevails. [bat: Sure, why not.]
He and Karen run up and down stairs yet again and unmask the man.
He’s not quite dead and reveals he’s Dr. Ellmann’s father before dying fully. Or at least passing out. It’s hard to tell, but I suspect death. [bat: But why the mask???]
The moving hippy orgy attacks them yet again. Why so repetitive, movie?
They chain Karen, even though not very long ago they were trusting her and listening to her? They leave her looking fully debauched and run away laughing.
Back to William, he stops and has a drink, gossips with the bartender about the castle and how many people are coming and going. Bartender sends him to talk to Frederick who can tell him more about the castle.
Frederick and the woman he flirts with tell him that they don’t want to go near it, it’s sinister. Frederick’s parents worked there while the father was alive but now that it’s the daughter’s, no one wants to go near it. She’s a strange doctor, you know.
William calls the police investigator to tell him that Wolfstein and Ellmann are the same person and now his daughter is continuing his violent experiments.
The police have also made that same connection. He tells William to wait for them before he approaches the castle. Will he wait? Oh I doubt it.
Karen and Waldemar are now very post-coital, right down to the cigarette Karen smokes in bed. So, uh, are you being controlled? How did you get free? Were you not the one who was chained? Why can’t I tell anyone apart?
While Waldemar sleeps, Karen breaks into a locked drawer on the desk and finds a gun and the silver bullet.
And lo, a wild doctor appears!
Oh, wait, she wasn’t the one bound in chains! That was Hettie or Barbara. Hettie, because I think Barbara was dealt with earlier. Anyway, whoever she is tells Dr. Ellmann that Karen freed the experiments and Waldemar killed her father.
Dr. Ellmann is big mad.
Waldemar goes looking for Karen. Instead he finds the funeral of Doc’s father. It involves a lot of people in white clothing and her father laid out on display.
And Dr. Ellmann. She warns Waldemar that if he ever wants to see Karen again, he’ll do whatever she says because Karen’s in her control now.
She monologues about the power her father left her through his science and promises that she can destroy anything that would separate them. She’ll save Waldemar for herself, of course, she wants him so.
The full moon will come soon, he will change, and then he, her beloved prisoner, will find the two surprises she left for him. She dominates the beast, she’ll have him always as a man — and then she reveals that she stole Erika from the grave, too, and made her a prisoner.
OH DAMN. [bat: Wow. Just… wow.]
When he clawed through Erika’s throat (…er, bit through, I think), he also clawed through her heart (…errrrrr, bit through and also how), and now the curse has been transferred to her!
I fucking love this.
Karen is, of course, the second surprise victim.
Waldemar struggles against his chains, but cannot free himself.
William connects with the police and they head to the castle with Frederick as their guide.
Doc strokes Karen’s body while she talks about how pure and young she is, and how Waldemar will destroy her, but not until he finishes with Erika. She tells Erika that Waldemar is there with his sweetheart, Karen, after he killed Erika’s Loverboy and gave Erika his curse. He’s a monster, and Erika is now, too.
Karen wakes! The transformation is upon Waldemar and Erika! William, Frederick, and the police arrive at the castle!
Everything all at once, I see. [bat: Who needs consistency!]
The werewolves fight against their chains. Erika breaks free first, but Doc is well in control of her. Erika will show either love or hate, her choice, and Waldemar and the doctor both watch as she throws herself at Karen.
Waldemar breaks free, tears his wife away from Karen. They fight, trashing the room, and Dr. Ellmann chains Karen to the wall rather than the table this time.
Waldemar kills Erika again, a monster killing a monster, so she should be really dead, then approaches a chained Karen. Doc orders him to kill Karen, but he fights her demands, her dominance and turns on her instead. [bat: The power of love?]
William and the police break into the castle while Waldemar chases Dr. Ellmann up stairs (of course), throws her over the railing, and runs down after her (more stairs).
She gets her gun and shoots him several times. He staggers down even more stairs, clutches at his chest when he falls, and appears to die. Silver bullet to the heart from a woman who loves him? Doc is in bad shape from the fall, claw marks on her face. She drags herself to his body and collapses on top of him.
William and the police finally reach that room, William rushes to free Karen, and the police find all sorts of dead bodies to deal with.
The men want to forget about it so Karen can too, and William escorts Karen out into a beautiful day. [bat: Back to reality, Karen!]
This movie. Oh, this movie.
It is badly paced, weirdly slow for the first half or more (far too many stair scenes in the second half), cheesy, filled with bad werewolf make-up and ridiculous shots of eyes and over-the-top facial expressions, tells us more than shows us, I can’t tell the characters apart, it has so much flat acting it feels like it has to be an intentional choice, is utterly ridiculous — and is fucking engaging as hell.
There are so many interesting things in this! The use of “freaks” as science experiments, control of sex and violence, Dr Ellmann and her dominance and violence tinged with eroticism, the curse passed through the heart and destroyed via the heart, only a monster can kill a monster, obsession, control.
I’m not entirely sure how, but I fucking loved this movie by the end. How? HOW?!
I still cannot say.
[bat: Apparently I picked a real winner without even trying, solely based on seeing a movie poster. This probably removes some of my debt for picking some really terrible films for group recaps recently. I accidentally stumbled into a science-centric monster-loving sex-cult film that Wing ended up loving. Who would have guessed?!
This movie is just wacky, honestly. I think I am equally enamored of reading about its making and how terrible that went – stealing footage from your prior film to fill in gaps to make up running time is not a good idea – and how the English dub is public domain while the original Spanish version is still copyrighted. And how it took 5 years for this film to be released in Spain and Argentina cinemas, only, while it was sold in 1974 to American audiences as a late night TV film with some heavy editing. Heavy editing of the quite explicit nudity, which is only seen in the Swedish release. Like, there are so many plot twists around the film itself. And the Yeti! A YETI! Why a Yeti?? Will we ever know why??
Overall, I am excited we chose this as an entry into Snark at the Moon!]
[Wing: The more bat talks about the making of the film, the more confused I am, and the more I love it! Look for recaps of other films in this loose series in the future.]