Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1973)
My werewolf project is coming to an end! I have seen everything on my list with the exception of just one title; Hercules, Prisoner of Evil. I can not find this damn film anywhere. Hercules battles a sorceress who turns men into werewolves…and it’s Italian! Hello! Thanks to Wednesday’s Child for suggesting this title! I plan on seeing it some day, some how (I still owe you a shrine WC). Curse of the Devil was briefly shortlisted but was knocked off the list by another Paul Naschy title. Curse of the Devil is more than just a werewolf film! It also has Satan-worshipping gypsies, a serial killer and a Countess Elizabeth Bathory tie in!
Irineus Daninsky is responsible for the execution of Countess Elizabeth Bathory and her female followers. Before the Countess is burned at the stake she lays down a bad-ass curse on the Daninsky’s lineage; in the future a terrible accident will result in the curse being exacted. We jump ahead several years later and meet Waldemar Daninsky who is hunting wolves and accidently shoots a gypsy man. The gypsies conduct a ritual where a woman is chosen to seduce Waldemar and leave him scarred by the “mark of the wolf”. The woman is successful in her endeavour but is immediately snuffed out by a serial killer who has recently escaped incarceration. The serial killer and the werewolf are simultaneously killing folks but with the news of a serial killer on the loose, Waldemar’s crimes have gone unnoticed. Unnoticed, that is until the serial killer’s dead body is found.
Curse of the Devil opens with Irineus Daninsky in armour fighting Bathory’s hubby. Upon slaying the evil count he arrests the countess and her followers post-haste. The women are promptly executed; the followers are thrown off the castle bridge with nooses around their necks and the Countess gets the old “burned at the stake” treatment. Wow! That is one hella-stylish and enthusiastic opening scene! One of the best non-werewolf openings of a werewolf film ever I would say! The story is fairly wacky, but it is more coherent than many of the werewolf films I’ve seen during this feature. Most of you are probably familiar with the history of Countess Elizabeth Bathory; those who are not; the bloody lady of Cachtice was allegedly responsible for the torture and death of hundreds of young women whose blood she apparently bathed in to maintain her youth. This has absolutely no relevance to this story whatsoever. In Curse of the Devil, Bathory appears to be engaging in some manner of satanic ritual when Irineus Daninsky and his men come to arrest her. Furthermore she has the ability to enact a curse suggesting she is possibly a witch. Bathory is generally associated with vampirism not witchcraft and werewolves, but what the hell, worked for me!
Waldemar feels deep regret about the unfortunate death of the gypsy. So much regret he can’t even give his condolences and instead sends his lackey to give them a small bag of coins. Of course, the curse has been foretold so he is screwed regardless. Can’t undo a foretold curse ya’ll! I must say the gypsy’s method of “marking” Waldemar with the wolf curse was a unique one. It is the first and only instance I can recall of spilling one’s own blood on the skull of a wolf and than clamping said wolf’s jaw onto the chest of the intended! I love it!! I really dig how all these Spanish werewolf films mix in all manner of other sub-genres but still manage to make the werewolf the focus. Paul Naschy always gives a real angsty, hand-wringing performance. I love the classic half-man, half-wolf makeup he sports. He always puts his heart into his performance; knocking shit over, destroying furniture, clutching at himself as he transforms into the thing he hates. Waldemar falls in love with the first attractive woman he meets and she curses him. Than he falls in love with the second attractive woman he meets. It is often said in werewolf films that love can save a man from the werewolf curse. Frankly I’ve yet to see it ever happen! Waldemar’s woman does stay by his side right up to the end however. Some Naschy flicks have some rather dubious dubbing, but Curse of the Devil is not bad at all. I would prefer to hear it in Spanish with subtitles, but alas, this has been a difficult task finding subtitled Naschy films. I thoroughly enjoyed Curse of the Devil. It is well shot, has great sets and costumes, an entertaining story, nice werewolf makeup and transformations, gore, nudity and the fabulous Paul Naschy. If you are a fan of Naschy, you have probably already seen Curse of the Devil. But if you are looking to discover my man for the first time this is a great place to start. Carlos Aured’s delightful Spanish horror film is one of the best of its breed in my opinion. Curse of the Devil comes highly recommended!