Sunday, 2 October 2016

Dr Jekyll vs the Werewolf [Doctor Jekyll y El Hombre Lobo] (Leon Klimovsky, 1972)

A double dose of monsterdom, Iberian-style, as Paul Naschy (known to his parents as Jacinto Molina) reprises his iconic role as doomed Polish lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky for the... what? (counts on fingers) either fifth or sixth time, depending upon whether the lost film El Noches de Hombre Lobo was ever actually extant in the first place.

This time around, our hairy hero descends from his black castle upon the hill (wherein the dwells, whispered about by the peasants in the village as a monster and a devil - in this particular principality the bogeyman to scare your children into behaving is a Spanish weightlifter dressed as the wolfman) and comes to the rescue of Justine (Shirley Corrigan) whom he rescues from an attempted gang rape by the thugs who just murdered her husband in front of her whilst attempting to jack their car. In gratitude, the freshly-widowed Justine offers to try and aid Waldemar in seeking a cure for his carnivorous lunar activities by taking him back to London with her to meet her friend Dr Henry Jekyll (Euro-horror stalwart Jack Taylor - Succubus [Jess Franco, 1968], Ghost Galleon / Horror of the Zombies [Amando de Ossorio, 1974], Conan the Barbarian John Milius, 1982 and many, many more), grandson of the original, who is something of an expert in treating these man-into-monster cases.

The location footage of Naschy as Daninsky wandering around London is sadly brief, but wonderfully jarring when the viewer is accustomed to seeing him in Hispanic or middle-European locales. Seeing the Spanish Wolfman (El Hombre Lobo) wander around Trafalgar Square before hailing and getting into a black cab is ever so slightly surreal that it actually seems like the strangest thing in the film. Waldemar takes said taxi to Dr Jekyll's clinic, arriving on time before an unfortunate power cut leads to him being trapped between floors in the lift with a beautiful nurse. What might be most mens' wildest fantasy is sadly a nightmare for Waldemar, as the full moon rises and he becomes a hairy howling beast and gets stuck into the nurse in a different way to that which he might have hoped in what could be a thumbs up scene for anyone who possesses both a uniform and furry fetish.

Eventually Jekyll decides to try and cure the carnivorous Count, although his spurning of his jealous ex-lover and laboratory assistant Sandra (Mirta Miller, Count Dracula's Great Love [Javier Aguirre, 1973], Vengeance of the Zombies [Leon Klimovsky, 1974]) leads to complications when she decides to stab him in the back both literally and metaphorically - knifing him before sabotaging the experiment by injecting Daninsky full of the original Dr Jekyll's Hyde formula. Turning from a man into a werewolf into Mr Hyde must be going for some kind of record, and boy Naschy goes for it with some relish wandering modern (1972) Soho under its neon lights wearing a cape, top hat and silver-handled cane. "I need pleasure... Women! Lots of women! Different women!" is his creed and cri de coeur as he goes about sexing, torturing and killing. In that order.

His reign of fun is brought to an end, sadly, when the potion runs out and he reverts to lupine form during the next lunar cycle, and the bereaved, battered and bleeding Justine tearfully riddles him with silver bullets, before expiring from her injuries. It's difficult to judge or gauge a performance hindered by dubbing, but Shirley Corrigan is good in a role that has her as a perpetual victim: widowed and sexually assaulted on her honeymoon before being dragged through the emotional wringer by falling in love with a doomed monster, whipped, tortured and suffering yet more sexual abuse before having her throat torn out by the man she loves. Yikes. She is also (if you can pardon the indulgence of my Male Gaze here) heartbreakingly beautiful, giving the thin role of Justine the air of a flower blossom amidst carnage and death like a rose growing in a graveyard. She's very different here to her role as the seductively wanton and bisexual Regine in Jean Brismee's 1971 The Devil's Nightmare, and i also doubt that her role as the titular heroine in Around the World with Fanny Hill (Mac Ahlberg, 1974) is quite this poignant.

I own two copies of this film, as the R2 DVDas the R2 DVD from Mondo is a nice print but is the Spanish dub. Whilst i have no problems at all watching subtitled movies (at least a third of my collection is comprised of such things), it does feel a little odd when the actors are clearly speaking their dialogue in English, but dubbed into Spanish with English subtitles. So the version i watched last night was the R1 English language one. Interesting to hear the actual dialogue but sadly the print is terrible and heavily cut - missing around the first five minutes, and missing the scene wherein the freshly transformed Daninsky-Hyde whips and tortures Justine (possibly also shorn of a couple of scenes of prostitute killing as well). Presumably this version (from the Pure Terror DVD set) was the US television print. I shall definitely be sticking with the R2 version - distracting dubbing and all - for any future watches.

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