(aka Werewolf versus Vampire Woman aka Shadow of the Werewolf aka The Werewolf’s Shadow
Original title: La Noche de Walpurgis)
Dr Harwig! Look at this scar! It’s pentagonal! The mark of the werewolf!"
This Spanish-made imitation of Hammer’s early-70s horror films ranks among the worst the genre has to offer. It features, unsurprisingly, a werewolf and at least one vampire woman engaged in an epic struggle to maintain the audience’s interest. The audience loses.
Directed by León Klimovsky
Written by Jacinto Molina and Hans Munkel
Jacinto Molina (aka Paul Naschy) as Waldemar Daninsky
Gaby Fuchs as Elvira
Barbara Capell as Genevieve Bennett
Patty Shepard as Countess Wandessa d'Arville de Nadasdy
Andrés Resino as Inspector Marcel
Yelena Samarina as Elizabeth Daninsky
José Marco as Pierre
Eduardo Chappa as Monster
We begin with an autopsy, during which the coroner lights up a cigarette. He and a police officer set the tone for the film by speaking almost entirely in expository dialogue and by doing moronic things to advance the plot. They won't be the last; this film takes place in an alternate universe where everyone speaks in expository dialogue and does moronic things that will allow the plot to continue. We learn that the superstitious locals believe that this man was a werewolf, and that a dead werewolf can be restored to life if one removes the silver bullet that killed him. Naturally, the investigators remove the bullet, restoring the dead monster to life.
After dispatching the pair, the werewolf heads out and kills once more before the opening credits. This sequence holds some promise. The simple but effective make-up and Blair Witch camerawork possess a gritty power which the rest of the film utterly lacks.
Meanwhile in Paris (we know we're in Paris, because we see a rack of postcards featuring Parisian landmarks), Elvira, a sexy academic who specializes in the supernatural, seeks information on a mysterious 11th century countess (inspired by Elizabeth Bathory) alleged to have been a vampire. The bloody countess's tale appears in a flashback to the cheapest Black Mass sequence in film history. The 11th-century Satanists apparently stocked up on props and costumes from a post-Halloween clearance at the local IGA. Elvira takes leave of her mysterious boyfriend, who must depart on a mysterious mission to Istanbul, and promptly gets lost in the country with her moderately wild friend, Genevieve.
The young women find themselves guests of a mysterious writer: in fact, the revived werewolf of the opening scene. He shares his new home with a creepy handyman and a crazed sister. Pierre the Handyman actually gets some laughs, with creepy babbling which utterly fails to put Elvira at ease. The sister has a strange fondness for feeling up women in the night.
Coincidentally, the werewolf/writer also lives near the long-lost grave of the mysterious countess. Using an ancient document, our small group find the gravesite, a ruined mausoleum that has been lost lo these many centuries behind ancient overgrowth of the sort one might find in a garden neglected for a few months. Of course, Genevieve removes the silver cross from the countess's corpse and drips blood from a cut into her decaying mouth, thus restoring the vampire woman to life. As a reward, she becomes the Countess’s first victim. Almost immediately, Genevieve gains walrus-like fangs bested only by those worn by the Tubatan Vampires in the shlock classic, Horror of the Blood Monsters.
The film becomes increasingly confusing. A village woman provides more expository dialogue, because apparently we haven’t heard enough from the principals, and this still fails to clarify matters. Elvira’s spy-like boyfriend returns from Turkey and manages to find her. We have more hints of lesbianism. The monsters menace our heroine. Elvira goes down (Hey! Not like that). Fortunately, this film also believes in last-minute rescues.
Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman eventually presents a showdown between werewolf and vampire woman. It gives us a conclusion, but it fails to answer the magical question: what happens if a lycanthrope bites a vampire, or vice-versa?1
The film features poor production throughout, including frequent shifts between day and night footage within one sequence. The incompetent soundwork, however, may be the best worst thing about it. I’m not talking about the shoddy dubbing; I expect that in a dubbed version of a low-budget horror movie. The ineptitude goes much further, back to the original production. The ambient sounds in some scenes recall a low-budget Halloween Effects tape, the sort of thing played outside a haunted house at a local fair. At another point, the noise from a storm drowns out the dialogue, although it doesn't much matter in this film. Best terrible use of sound: in the nightclub where we first meet Elvira, the soundtrack features a lounge piano, but we see crowds of people dancing fast to some upbeat 60s pop number which apparently they alone can hear.
As fodder for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 party this film has potential, and some viewers may experience a few "boo!" moments of fright. Overall, however, Werewolf versus Vampire Women fails to entertain, and should be reserved only for those who really enjoy inept movie-making.
1. EC Comics, of course, decades earlier, showed us what happens when a werewolf and a vampire have sex: they give birth to horror comics host the Old Witch.