In a small provincial village, the young judge's daughter Janice meets a charming Polish Count, Waldemar Daninsky. This ruffles the feathers of her would-be boyfriend Rudolph, but things change when Waldemar saves the boy from a werewolf attack. While he slays the beast, the = realises to his horror that it's too late for him. He is now a victim, of the curse of the full moon...
Mark of the Wolfman is the first of 12 in the world's longest running werewolf series, both in entries and =. Borne of a desire to emulate the Universal horror classics, they kicked off a grand new era for Spanish horror, highlighting directors such as Leon Klimovsky, Amando de Ossorio, and many more.
Mark is a classic horror movie in all the best ways. It has a Gothic setting and tone, and while it is set in the modern day, this works. It manages to This village feels like a place time has largely forgotten. Its inhabitants might wear polo shirts, and drive cars, but many of the buildings and clothing feels straight out of medieval times.
The plot is fairly traditional werewolf stuff, with a preliminary attack from another beast, passing on the curse to the hero, who must deal with the curse, = by the fact that he may have to end his life to keep everyone safe.
Where things take a detour for the more fantastical is the last half hour. Mark of the Wolfman has a very good pace, and introduces things gradually, with plenty going on. By the hour mark, we get the addition of some scientists who may be able to cure Waldermar...But they're soon revealed to have an ulterior motive, and a sinister background. This could've gone a bit awry, but thankfully it's all handled well enough, and feels like an extra treat!
The last act has plenty of action, from a werewolf vs werewolf fight, to some good brawls with the vampires. Then there's a inevitably tragic/sad ending,
characters Waldemar Daninsky is a suave and debonair lead. You can definitely see how Janice is so swept over by him. He's noble too, as can be seen through his actions. You feel bad for the poor guy being afflicted with this curse, especially when it only happened due to his bravery. tragic hero
Janice is a nice girl. Smart, sweet, and proactive. She really takes action to help Waldemar when she discovers the extent of his trouble. Rudolph is a good guy too! He's pretty hostile to Waldemar at first, as you can imagine from any red-blooded fellow whose [promised] girlfriend falls for another guy. But this all changes after the werewolf attack. After his life is saved by Waldemar, Rudolph pledges himself to help, and is a loyal companion.
He still wants to keep Janice away from him, for for a wholly different reason now, as he wants to keep her safe, which Waldemar completely agrees with. He's also reasonable about it, as he and Waldemar eventually let Janice in on the secret once they realise they can no longer keep her in the dark.
The villains are a delightfully spooky pair, openly evil and =. It's Waldemar and co's bad luck that the experts they heard about happened to not only be mad scientists, but vampires too! The original weewolf is a good presence too. Long since dead, he is resurrected when a silver cross is pulled from his heart, killed again when it's put back, then brought back again by the vampires! This is why I prefer it when a monster stays dead,
The supporting cast is good all round, from the friendly (but slightly larcenous) Gypsies who set off the movie's events, to the parents of the young =, who contribute a surprisingly good amount during the finale, and grasp what's going on perfectly. I was afraid they'd be a bunch of stuffed shirts, but nope!
Mark of the Werewolf's setting is in Germany, with a Polish lead. This is for a few reasons, I imagine. First is that Germany is internationally known as a home for werewolves, whereas Spain, not so much. Then there's General Franco, whose regime would often insist that horror movies take place abroad, to not besmirch their fair country's reputation. This I say bullcrap. People want to see werewolves in Spain, Generalissimo! In any case though, they picked a great setting, that feels just right.
One amusing bit of trivia is the film's English title-Frankenstein's Bloody Terror. Astute viewers may notice there is no Frankenstein, monster or otherwise, in this movie! What happened was the studio needed a Frankenstein movie, so they took this, tacked on a narration at the beginning which says the Frankenstein family changed it's name to Wolfstein. There, problem solved!
The effects in Mark are neat! The werewolf make-up is really good, and always convince. The transitions are mixed. The first has good build-up, then a single fade instantly covers Paul with fur. The later ones are better though, in showing the transformation, or hiding it effectively, and = through shadows.
The acting is good all round. Paul Naschy is a great presence as Waldemar Daninsky. Suave, musclebound, sensitive, tragic, he really runs the gamut, playing a perfect cursed man. He also plays the werewolf's animalistic rage well too. Dianik Zurakowska and Manuel Manzaneque are good as the young couple, as are Julian Ugarte and Aurora de Alba as the vampiric villains.
There's some nice music here, that feels traditional and authentic for an old horror movie.
Mark of the Werewolf is a great start to a long-running series, and also a perfect example of Spanish gothic horror. Spain has produced so many classics in the genre, and we can be grateful that movies like this exist for all to see...