Review Date: May 19, 2002
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 2002
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Before Curse of the Devil there was the Werewolf Shadow, which marked Paul Naschy's fourth appearance as the troubled Daninsky character. Anchor Bay is releasing Werewolf Shadow complete and uncut, featuring scenes omitted from previous English language releases. Because these restored scenes were never dubbed into English, they are presented in Spanish with English subtitles.
Lets take a close look at this Spanish take on 'The Wolf Man versus Vampire Woman' (now that I think about it, is there any other take on such a story?) holds up.
Two doctors are about to perform an autopsy on a recently killed mass murderer named Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy). Locals claim that Daninsky was a werewolf, which the doctors are quick to laugh off as superstition. One of the doctor's claim that according to the legend, the werewolf will return to life if the silver bullet that killed him is extracted from the body. Wanting to get a laugh at the locals expense, the doctor proceeds to extract the silver bullets from Daninsky. To no surprise, Daninsky springs to life as the werewolf (never perform an autopsy during a full moon) and slaughters the two doctors. Continuing where it undoubtedly left off, the werewolf starts roaming about the countryside to feed off local townsfolk once again.
A woman by the name of Elvira (Gaby Fuchs) is writing an essay on black magic, witchcraft, and satanism. During her research she discovered a character by the name of Countess Wandessa d'Arville de Nadasdy, a Hungarian countess that lived in the 11th century. According to the legend, the Countess would drink the blood of young virgins to preserve her beauty. The Countess was a vampire. When her lover discovered this, he killed her using a mystical silver cross. Elvira and her friend Genevieve (Barbara Capell) discovered a document indicating the whereabouts of the Countess' body. The two head out in search of the village, only to get lost along the way. They meet up with Daninsky, who offers them housing for a few days. The two women accept his invitation.
Days later Daninsky and the two women travel out to Countess Wandessa's grave. After reading the warning - "No one must disturb her rest until the day of the last judgement" - that's printed on the grave, the group wisely decides to open it anyway. After opening the coffin and removing the cross, Genevieve accidentally cuts her hand open. In a remarkable coincidence, her blood drips rights onto the Countess' skeleton. Only after this do they happen to read what's printed on the cross - "The breath that will bring her back to live will be red." Damnit, luck just isn't on their side! What follows is the rising of the Countess; lesbian vampires uniting (there's actually VERY little to suggest they are lesbians, but us horror fans know that all female vampires are lesbians); and a werewolf versus vampire showdown.
After watching and enjoying Curse of the Devil, I had high hopes for the Wolfman Shadow. Unfortunately, my hopes were shot down. The Wolfman Shadow had the necessary elements to be a great horror movie - lesbian vampires and the wolf man! But the pacing of the film moves along at a snail's pace, and there are no redeeming scenes to make up for it. Making matters worse, the running time is 1 hour and 35 minutes, which is way too long for this sort of movie. The extra scenes amount to a few minutes, but they don't add anything of importance. The only scenes I did enjoy were when the lesbian vampires are running around together, the footage is in slow motion to give it a surreal effect. Since they don't really end up doing much, the end result is still disappointment.
As with Curse of the Devil, I think the makeup for the wolf man is fairly good. Even the lesbian vampires look great. If the film were 20 minutes shorter, cut out a few explanations for various events (sometimes not explaining things is better), added some worthwhile scenes, add some eroticism (not really any of that here), and changed the final confrontation, it could have been a good movie. Yes, that's a mighty tall order to fill. It's a shame too, because I think it really could have been a good movie. As it is, the Werewolf Shadow is just plain awful.
Anchor Bay once again provides a great transfer. Werewolf Shadow is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is very similar to Curse of the Devil in terms of quality. There is minor print damage present on the transfer. It's mostly a few small nicks and scratches, as well as several vertical white lines. One of the restored scenes - the one where the inspector and mayor are sitting down at a table having a conversation - has a light vertical white bar that fades in and out a few times before disappearing. Certainly not a major problem, and not unexpected for a restored scene that was missing from many of the previous prints. Colors are more vibrant here then in Curse of the Devil, and the image is slightly sharper. There are still several scenes exhibiting light grain.
I'm going to rate the Image Quality with a B, the same grade I gave to Curse of the Devil. The Wolfman Shadow transfer is better in some areas, but it also has a few problems that Curse of the Devil didn't. It's a great transfer overall, especially considering the age and the fact that it's a low budget foreign movie.
The English dubbed soundtrack is in stereo. Dialogue and music are consistently clear and audible. No distortion or other problems were found. The restore scenes contain Spanish dialogue with English subtitles.
The same 15 minute "Interview With the Werewolf" interview found on the Curse of the Devil DVD is also present here. It features an interview with Paul Naschy, who plays the werewolf. Paul also wrote various scripts to Spanish horror movies, including Mark of the Wolf Man. He explains how he got started in the movie business; how he jumped from movies to body building and then back to movies; and how he eventually landed into the role of a werewolf. It's an interesting and informative interview.
Next is a photo gallery containing dozens (well over 60) of artwork and stills from various Paul Naschy movies. Rounding out the supplements is a Paul Naschy bio, and a theatrical trailer and a TV spot for Werewolf Shadow. Both the bio and the photo gallery are identical to the ones found on the Curse of the Devil DVD.
Werewolf Shadow was a big disappointment, especially after seeing the enjoyable Curse of the Devil. It lacked a good story, it was too long and drawn out, and there weren't any good murder scenes to make up for it. It's a shame because it had the necessary elements to be a good horror movie. Anchor Bay did a great job with the DVD, providing another top notch transfer and a few enjoyable extras - mostly the same ones found on their Curse of the Devil DVD.
Movie - D
Image Quality - B
Sound - B+
Supplements - B
- Running time - 1 hour 35 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- Dolby Stereo
- 15 minute "Interview With the Werewolf"
- Photo gallery
- Paul Naschy bio
- Theatrical trailer
- TV Spot