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The legacy of the Countess Wandesa, a woman who drank the blood of young women to stay alive, brings Elvira and her friend Genevieve out to a secluded part of Spain where it is said that Wandesa was buried. Though their search has a bad start when they become lost and their car runs out of gas, they are greeted by Waldemar (Paul Naschy), a man who has been living in a nearby mansion for several months now. Waldemar is aware of Wandesa’s grave, and takes the two women to uncover it. But their curiosity and desecration has unforeseen consequences and the Countess returns to life as a Vampire.
Genevieve is quickly overcome by the power of Wandesa, and becomes her vampire slave. Even worse is that Elvira, who has fallen in love with Waldemar, learns that he is cursed to turn into a werewolf whenever there is a full moon! As a man, Waldemar knows of Wandesa’s ultimate plan to bring Satan into the physical world and plague the Earth with darkness, but as a werewolf he is an uncontrollable beast! As the next full moon cycles closer, Waldemar along with Elvira prepare to stop Wandesa from completing her diabolical task, But with the werewolf growing restless inside him, will Waldemar be able to keep his murderous rage reigned in long enough to stop the vampire queen?
When the opening scene of a movie involves a mortician complaining that he has to do an autopsy in the middle of the night, and the scene of blatantly being filmed in the middle of the day, you know you are in for a good time! Such is the opening sequence for Leon Klimovsky’s 1970 Spanish monster schlock-o-rama La Noche de Walpurgis which is also known as Werewolf’s Shadow, Blood Moon and Werewolf Vs Vampire Women. This day-for-night shooting motif continues throughout the movie to ensure there will be more giddy and confusing entertainment than you can shake a silver cross at!
Now while this night scene shooting in the middle of the day may draw attention to the low production, Klimovsky doesn’t let a little thing like a tight budget stop him from bringing out the very best in absurd Spanish horror. Feeling like a cross between a Hammer Films release and something out Ed Wood Jr.’s leftover script ideas, this epic fills the screen with classic monster horror along with sleazy lesbian-tinged sexuality and even some religious propaganda. Klimovsky shamelessly wallows in what makes classic horror so great by coating his sets with cobwebs, dust and shadows, churns out drifting slow motion shots like a factory, and recognizes logic and coincidence as the trifling annoyances they are.
At the forefront of Werewolf Shadow is the legendary low-budget actor Paul Naschy, a man whose plethora of roles through five decades and counting has crossed the entire spectrum of genres and styles, as the werewolf Waldemar. Naschy, who also co-wrote the screenplay under the pseudonym Jacinto Molina, has an incredible screen presence in his human form, and even more so once he goes through a transformation worthy of Lon Chaney into the out of control werewolf. Joining in the fun is Patty Shepard as Waldemar’s nemesis Countess Wandesa, a beautiful woman even behind the grey makeup and fangs, who often co-starred with Naschy throughout the 1970s.
Although the film seems padded with a bit of exposition and chit-chat, there are plenty of excellent sequences that come at a fairly rapid pace to keep the smiles coming. The opening sequences get things started off right, as the werewolf attacks a helpless maiden and not only rips her throat out but also tears her shirt off for good measure. Klimovsky’s choice of close-up shots definitely sets the pace of what will come. After sprinkling the film with several vicious attack sequences, Klimovsky settles in for the final confrontation that is all-too-short yet must be seen to be believed, and should go down in history as one of the great monster match ups alongside Universal’s pictures.
Werewolf Shadow is a great introduction to the insane talent and pure insanity that is Paul Naschy, as well as the great wealth of horror and b-movies in general that were coming out of Spain at the time. As censorship became a bit more relaxed, Spanish filmmakers joined their international brethren to take more extremes chances and push entertainment to the limits in order to satisfy both the bloodlust and lust of their audience. It may seem quaint by comparison to later productions, but Klimovsky film still can still get the heart pumping and the goosebumps tingling even by today’s wanton standards, and remains as one of the first of Spanish Fantastic Cinema.
Werewolf Shadow gets a solid makeover for this anamorphic widescreen transfer. Night sequences have been filtered to hide the obvious sunlight, and there is not much print damage. The original Castilian Spanish soundtrack is presented in mono, and while there are pops and drops here and there, it sounds great overall, especially considering the film’s age. English subtitles are also provided. This uncut print also includes a relatively decent sound English dub.
Werewolf Vs Vampire Women – This is the entire U.S. version of the film. The version runs approximately thirteen minutes shorter than the uncut version (it cuts most of the gore, nudity and loses some of a subplot ) and the print here looks absolutely awful. There isn’t much value to this, aside from doing some comparisons to the much better looking print of the uncut version.
Liner Notes – A foldout booklet includes a very informative history on La Noche De Walpurgis as well as Paul Naschy.
Still Gallery – An incredible assortment of stills from the film as well as international posters
Its alluring kitschy entertainment value, along with its historic film value for its impact on Spanish cinema, makes this movie well worth checking out!
Deimos Entertainment presents Werewolf Shadow: Special Edition. Directed by Leon Klimovsky. Starring Paul Naschy, Gaby Fuchs, Barbara Capell, Patty Shepard, Andres Resino. Written by Paul Naschy and Hans Munkel. Running time: 94 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: June 10, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.