Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Night of the Werewolf aka The Craving (1969)
Available from BCI | Review by Dan Taylor

Theatrically released in the United States as THE CRAVING, Paul Naschy's Gothic monster mash THE NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF is – as Naschy himself states in the intro to the new DVD release – “a movie about werewolves and vampires.” With a description like that how can you go wrong?

Opening in typical slam-bang Naschy flick fashion, NIGHT starts off with the execution of Countess Elizabeth Bathory (Julia Saly), her assistants in the black arts, and rampaging werewolf Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy), a tortured Polish nobleman who has been helping Bathory in her “witchcraft, vampirism and dealings with the Devil.”

While Daninsky longs to be released from the torture of his full moon rampages, Bathory is defiant till the end, proclaiming her lust for revenge even as her lycanthropic pal is being fitted with the Mask of Dishonor and stabbed in the heart with a silver dagger/cross.

Cue modern Eurobabes in bikinis lounging poolside as they discuss their plans to leave Rome for a trip through the Carpathian mountains. Despite their string bikinis, tight asses and perky boobs the chicks make it clear that they're “researchers you know” and ignore protests from their jilted male companions that “with bodies like that I wouldn't screw around with that shit.”

Ignoring this sage advice – and the de rigeur warning of doom from the locals – Erika (Silvia Aguilar), Karen (Azucena Hernández) and Barbara (Pilar Alcón) head off to the Carpathian mountains where they're set upon by a gang of rape-minded thugs who overheard their conversation in the local tavern.

Instead of having their way with the carload of “researchers” the creeps get crossbow arrows to the chest thanks to the recently reanimated Daninsky. Released from death's clutches by a couple of idiot grave robbers, he invites the girls to stay at his castle and they accept, though they keenly observe that “the way he dresses just isn't normal you know.”

Despite Daninsky's hospitality, Jacqueline Bisset lookalike Erika – whose embrace of the black arts has already led her to kill Old Wheelchairbound Professor – ventures into the tombs and brings the bloody Countess back to life thanks to the blood of Barbara (aka The Third Wheel). Rising from her tomb, Bathory summons her brother (now an awesome-looking zombie hulk with a rotting, skeletal face ala The Blind Dead) and declares that they need to bring Daninsky back into the evil fold because “we need him and his destructiveness.”

With Bathory and her crew reanimated – plus the added bonus of Erika and Barbara as nightgown-clad vampires – it's up to Daninsky and the chaste Karen to figure out a way to put an end to their reign of terror and release him from his curse.

Though NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF occasionally lapses into overly chatty stretches, the flick more than makes up for it with some great visuals (including a haunting scene of the three female vampires descending into their coffins), amazing castle sets, a fog machine that seems stuck on 11, hot Eurobabes – especially Hernandez – in flimsy nightgowns, and a heaping helping of blood, not to mention multiple werewolf attacks including one in which Daninsky attacks a couple and carries off the hapless damsel.

It all leads to a well-done monster mash as Bathory and her vampires square off against Daninsky complete with wrasslin' monsters, stakes, werewolf drool, flying coffins and more.

Despite its early 80s pedigree, the flick still has a very old school feel to it. The werewolf transformation effects are strictly of the time-lapse photography type, though Naschy does put his all into an extended, painful-looking sequence that ends with the werewolf crashing through a giant stained glass window. There's just enough blood to keep gorehounds happy, though the filmmakers oddly cut away from a beheading during the opening execution sequence, and enough bare breasts for skin fans.

While I'm still partial to NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST (an amazingly over-the-top werewolf vs. yeti tale complete with bandits and bi-sexual werewolf chicks), NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF is a welcome addition to my DVD library and another step in my continuing Naschy-fication.

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