College professor Waldemar Daninsky has just returned from a disastrous expedition to Tibet, where his whole crew died and he was left cursed after a yeti attack. Now doomed to become a wolf by the full moon, he kills his wife and her lover, before being captured by a sinister female scientist. She has been conducting a series of terrible experiments, and Waldemar may be her crowning achievement...
Fury of the Wolf Man begins like we've just missed the first act to another movie altogether. Waldermar Daninsky has just come back from Tibet, where he was bitten by a...yeti? Are you sure? It's not the most cohesive beginning, but things gradually find their footing, until we take a sudden turn. Waldermar is killed, and his corpse is stolen by mad scientist Ilona, and the film becomes more devoted to her and her sinister castle.
Where the film starts to go off the rails is at the halfway point. Daninsky, the supposed lead, is unconscious for large stretches of time, and we focus on his girlfriend, a group of drunken revolutionaries, and some ill-fated scientists. There are also 'authentical mutants' at this castle, which seem to consist of random people, and one man dressed as a plant.
The wolf man meanwhile does a fair amount. He kills a few people, and smashes up the expected amount of furniture and windows (despite talk that the castle is 'hermetically sealed', which doesn't even begin to make sense!). There's one odd moment when all he does is lay next to a girl briefly, then leave. He also ends up quite whipped by Ilona, figuratively and literally!
Come the end I feel the plot has a few nice details, and Ilona's backstory is great. I just wish it had've been introduced earlier. I'm not asking for a big infodump in the first 5 minutes, but the film was so random for about 70 minutes, before we finally get some much needed backstory. We also could've done without the nonsensical suggestion that the werewolf curse isn't real, and Ilona achieved it all with hypnotism. So the fact that he actually turns into a werewolf, and manages to cheat death is all hypnotism?
The climax is the movie at its most fun. The story is by this point forgotten and you can just switch off and enjoy the fireworks. We get some great monster vs. monster action, with an unexpected reveal. This all results in a cheesy ending, that somehow manages to warp time
The film suffers from a lack of a consistent lead, with Daninsky hurting the most. It's a shame, because I liked how his character was built up early on. He has some great dialogue, in a darkly romantic vein-"For you I'd die a million times just so that you'd love me.".
Love interest Karen is ok, but a bit passive. Her biggest role is to be the one to put Waldemar out of his misery at the end, but surprisingly she doesn't even get to do that, instead staying chained up like a useless lump.
Her sort-of boyfriend, the reporter, is probably the most proactive, but if he got directly got involved the movie would end an hour earlier, so he's off the table. He actually has to be told by another character to "Do nothing" so he doesn't get involved in the climax. His biggest function is to serve as a consolation love interest for Karen when Waldermar inevitably dies.
The acting is ok. Naschy is a serviceable lead, while Perla Cristal has fun as the villain. The dub actors however are significantly less talented, to a hilarious degree. Their poor delivery together with the bad dialogue ("It can't be scientific it can't be scientific!") makes the film more entertaining than it otherwise would have been.
The movie has been slightly localised in the dubbing process. Waldermar has become Walderman, which is still foreign (though more common) and longer, meaning you still have to say the full name like changing Franz to Francisco. At least Walderman is a more dignified name change for the Baron than if he became Wally! Villainess Ilona has also gets the kickass surname Wolfstein! Not sure why when she's not the werewolf, but oh well.
Fury of the Wolf Man was originally to be directed by a Naschy regular, but he had to duck out at the last minute. Taking his place was Jose Maria Zabalza, who was by all accounts a lazy alcoholic who made it a pretty negative experience. How much of the film's state is his fault is up for debate, but I imagine at least a little. A lot is up to the director. As for how the film looks in general, it's perfectly fine.
There is also some added archive footage from Mark of the Wolfman. It's pretty poorly placed, redundant, and the difference in clothes, look, and time period makes it obvious it's from another movie.
The effects here are pretty good, though a bit weird in places, some of it resembling pea soup. The werewolf transformations are done well, as is the violence. The worst effect is definitely the fully dressed man standing with some foliage, who we're expected to believe is a mutant!
When it comes to much of Italian horror, watching them in dubbed is ok. I'm not a fan of dubbing in general, but for these kinds of films it's fine, especially considering many were filmed with this in mind. As for Spanish, it can be fairly similar. I do prefer watching the originals when Spanish cinema is concerned, but usually the English dubs are just fine. That's the case for Fury of the Wolf Man, and there's nothing more you'll get out of the original track than you will from the English, besides hearing Paul Naschy's real voice.
Overall, Fury of the Wolf Man is a decent horror flick, and has enough unintentionally funny moments to entertain. As an introduction to the world of Paul Naschy it's not necessarily the best, but as random and crazy as it may be, there is a certain simplicity to it that makes it an alright first watch. Its biggest problems can be traced to the tumultuous shooting process. Ultimately this film is a cautionary tale about quality control and the dangers of 'subletting' work...