Del Toro

Cogitations of Questionable Significance

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¡Viva el Hombre Lobo!
Del Toro
mike_grover

As you can see, this blog has been dormant for quite some time. I honestly had the best intentions of keeping it up when I started it last year, but as they say, life gets in the way. I guess I just needed something really special to motivate me to write some more, and that something has finally arrived. It's been nearly a year since Spanish horror film icon Jacinto Molina (better known as Paul Naschy) passed away, and in honor of the first anniversary of his death, the wonderful trash film blog Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies is sponsoring a Paul Naschy Blogathon. This post is my small contribution to that event.

I am, without question, a fiend for European horror films. I've been a fan of horror films in general for pretty much my entire life, but at a certain point, I came to the realization that horror films from Europe - especially those that originated in Italy and Spain - were the ones that I found the most satisfying. At first, it was a superficial attraction. The European films, more often than not, delivered the explicit gore and sex I demanded in my younger days. Well, I'm not a kid anymore, and while I still appreciate those attributes, I find that many of these films are aging remarkably well, especially in comparison to some of the pathetic excuses for horror films that we're seeing these days. I was going to say they're aging like fine wines, but let's not kid ourselves. Many of these films are unabashedly cheesy, but in spite of their inherent cheesiness, there's also a certain Old World class that elevates them above the rest of the genre, and that class was exemplified by Paul Naschy.

Naschy, best known for his multiple portrayals of "El Hombre Lobo" - the Wolfman, Waldemar Daninsky - loved horror films. Making horror films was all he really wanted to do, and remarkably, in the midst of a brutal fascist dictatorship, he was able to do just that. Paul Naschy essentially created the horror film industry in Spain, but more than that, in a way, he became the horror film industry in Spain. Many actors and directors followed in his footsteps, but none of them ever attained the iconic status that he did. His love, and more important, his respect for the genre comes through in nearly all of his films. No matter how low the budget or how crude the special effects, Naschy absolutely sold the film with his conviction.

I'm not old enough to have had the pleasure of seeing a Naschy film in the theater. If I'm not mistaken, one of the last films of his to have received a theatrical release in the United States was El Retorno del Hombre Lobo, released here as The Craving. I distinctly recall seeing ads for the film in the newspaper and getting excited, but being a boy of twelve with a fairly strict mother meant that there was no way I was going to get to see it. A few years later, with the advent of home video, I was finally able to see some of his films. At one point, I worked in a video store, and I was able to use my connections to order copies of some of his films on VHS, such as the big box releases of Human Beasts and Vengeance of the Zombies. I remember renting Rue Morgue Massacres (aka El Jorobado de la Morgue/Hunchback of the Morgue) through the mail from Video Vault and being thrilled to finally have access to this notorious shocker. The culmination of my Naschy appreciation came in recent years; it was the chance to finally see some of his films on DVD in their uncut versions and even in their original Spanish language, courtesy of the late, lamented BCI Home Video. It was a great time to be a Naschy fan. Then, the unthinkable happened.

When your heroes grow old, as they inevitably do, it's only a matter of time before they're taken from you. Still, it's a shock to lose someone like Paul Naschy. His passion for his life's work allowed us to be lulled into thinking that he would be around forever, even when his illness became readily apparent, but sadly, that was not to be. Thankfully, we still have the extraordinary legacy he left behind with his body of work, and as is evident by the outpouring of enthusiasm that this blogathon has generated, Señor Molina will not soon be forgotten.

On that note, let me just say once again,


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