Monday, June 1, 2009

Night of the Howling Beast (1975), Or Leap Attack Fest 2009

Paul Naschy. Paul Fucking Naschy. The name rolls off the tongue with a tremble, the words themselves containing no power yet when uttered together the earth shakes, virgins become pregnant, flocks of birds angrily take to the sky, and small children pee themselves in terror. As most of our astute readers know, the Vicar and I have an, um, "thing", for Mr. Naschy. Let me give a little background on our Lord for those who might not yet understand the mystique.

Paul Naschy was forged on an altar of evil by blind eunuchs invoking the names of the 8 Beasts from Beyond Time. His piercing eyes, his barrel chest, his penchant for sexing every woman who comes within his personal gravity: these are the reasons we love him. His muscles rippling beneath his bronze skin like insane caged pigs, starving for succor. The wild forelock of auburn hair on his head causes us to enter a torpor state of awesome. His unending joy at film making makes us understand why we love movies, and why we write passionately on this blog.

I bring to you one of Naschy's cinematic gems, the superbly titled "Night of the Howling Beast". And what a night it is! Our movie opens with 3 mountain climbers walking uphill through the snow. It is a blustery day in the Himalayas, and these gents are out for a stroll, when suddenly Chewbacca attacks! Driven mad by the keening caw of the minoc, Chewy knows only red rage as he tears into the hapless climbers. Luckily one of them thought to bring a Saturday Night Special and promptly pumps Chewbacca full of hollow-points.

We then cut to what must be an anthropologist's office, given all the stuffiness and plaid-elbow-patched-jacket'ness of it all. Enter Naschy, playing once again Waldemar Daninsky, followed by the professor. Naschy cuts a striking figure, his navy jacket barely able to contain his testosterone levels. We find out that Chewbacca didn't attack at all, and instead it was the fabled yeti of Nepal. (We can only assume Chewy is safe on Endor, feasting on Ewok intrails, which he has acquired a taste for)

"Why yes, Professor, I do wear Stetson cologne."

The professor tells Waldemar that some researchers found a yeti, and were never heard from again, but luckily their backpack had been recovered, along with a diary. The professor presents Waldemar with a "yeti scalp", which looks like someone shaved a beagle and then hot-glued its fur onto a swimming cap. Pronouncing that "there's no doubt it's authentic", he asks Waldemar to accompany him on an expedition to find this yeti, and perhaps sign it to a book contract. The professor notes that not only is Waldemar an anthropologist and a psychologist, but he's also fluent in Nepalese!

We cut to Nepal, where Waldemar drives up to a hotel in an army jeep while smoking a cigarette, a sight that is guaranteed to disintegrate every pair of panties within a 10 block radius. Waldemar meets up with the other researchers, including the professor's daughter Sylvia (grrr, baby, very grrr!) and their hulking guide Tiger, a beastly, bulging man who nevertheless proves to be mostly a coward.

Learning that the mountain passes are all but snowed in, Waldemar is angered, until Tiger informs him of a man who claims to know the way no matter the weather. Off they go! I was expecting some ancient Shirpa to fulfill this duty, instead they go to an opium den and find a sweaty bald white guy who for some reason knows his way around the Himalayas. Waldemar goes on with the sweaty dragon chaser while the rest of everyone heads off to base camp.

Waldemar is to meet up with them later, but 2 days pass and he still hasn't shown. Fearing him lost and or injured, the party sets out to find him, despite the ominous warnings from Tiger and his crew about "demons of the red moon" in the high mountain passes. Meanwhile, Waldemar and his "guide" are lost. Instead of consulting with the stars, using a map, or employing any other sort of survival technique, the guide sweats a few minutes, panics, and jumps off the side of K2. Waldemar is left on his own, but not for long!

We have a few scenes here, back and forth, of Waldemar wandering in the mountains and the folks back at base camp, trying to work up the nerve to go out after him. The Shirpas employee a ritual folk dance to work up their nerve, the band resembling a cross between Dexy's Midnight Runners and the J. Geils Band. Back with Waldemar, we see he's almost at the end of his sexy life when he spies a cave! Catching a whiff of freshly baked muffin, he heads inside to find it warm and inviting, with candles and pagan statues everywhere. It reminded me a lot of the Vicar's steam room, only with more candles and less nude gypsies.

"My blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold!"

Just as Waldemar is starting to wonder where the toilet is, a sexy woman in a saucy outfit shows up, asking why Waldemar dropped by without so much as a bottle of Merlot. Before he passes out, Waldemar asks for sanctuary. He gets something, alright, but it isn't sanctuary, unless your definition includes naked women jumping on you while you are semi-conscious. Actually, that is exactly my definition of sanctuary. Waldemar can barely sit up before two wenches have disrobed and started sexing him, one of them rubbing herself all over his prone body while the other works his hog like a ravenous hound gnawing on a deer's femur. Miraculously, this cures Waldemar.

Paul opts for the continental breakfast.

Exhausted, Waldemar passes out again, only to awaken later, alone. He sets out to do some spelunking of a different kind and explore the cave's environs. He soon happens upon two of the wenches engaging in what would appear to be cannibalism. Horrified that their mouths were previously all over his supple body, Waldemar flees in disgust, only to find the way out blocked by a portcullis. Having no choice but to descend further into the cave, Waldemar sets off, but quickly runs into another room where a chick is kneeling before a stone bier upon which rests a shriveled corpse. A thin silver arrow pierces its chest.

Waldemar realizes he has to go through this lady, so he attacks! A fierce battle ensues until Waldemar gets the idea to use the silver arrow. Now, friends, if you've ever watched a Naschy film, you should know that pulling anything silver out of any part of the body of a corpse is a recipe for disaster. Luckily for Waldemar, this movie is different! He runs the chick through with the arrow, and another shows up! He tries to flee, but ends up impaling her as well, but not before she bites him on one of his rock-like pecs! Freed, Waldemar finally finds an exit and runs off into the snow.

If this yeti killing job doesn't work out, there's always the circus...

The full moon is out, and Waldemar clutches his chest as he runs. Soon, the pain is too great... he begins to transform! A time-lapsed shot later and we have the hairy wolfman version of Paul Naschy. Reeking of wolf-stink and man-sex, he sets off in search of prey. He doesn't have to go far. Three bandits have made a camp near some boulders. Using one of the boulders as a launching spot, Waldemar executes one of the most stunning leap attacks in the long, awesome history of leap attacks! Very quickly the bandits are reduced to bloody messes.

Ladies and gentlemen: The Leap Attack

We flash over to the rescue party, who seem to have made their camp in the middle of some snowless woods. The ever-changing environment in this movie brought me no end of mirth. One moment it's a blizzard, the next sunny and green. The rescue party is growing increasingly nervous, as they begin to hear howls in the distance. Sylvia thinks this would be the perfect time to go for an evening stroll. One of the other researchers tries to force himself on her, but Waldemar jumps out and rips out the dude's throat!

The campers go to investigate, and while they are away Tiger gets knifed by his own men, who are "crazy with fear" he says, dying. The researchers break camp the next day, only to be ambushed by a large party of bandits. It turns out they all answer to Sekkar Khan, a local warlord who lives high in the mountains inside a fortress. The surviving members of the rescue party are carted off to meet him.

Meanwhile, Waldemar wakes up covered in leaves wondering what the fuck he's been up to for the last 8 hours. The girl Sylvia is passed out next to him. He gathers her up and they set off looking for the rest of the party. They find one of the members that the bandits left behind, impaled on a pike. With his dying breath he lets them know that the others have been taken to Sekkar Khan's Fortress of Solitude. We cut to said fortress and see Sekkar Khan undergoing treatment for sores on his back. I'm going to assume syphilis. His head wench informs him that a doctor is among the rescue party, so hope for new treatment abounds.

Meanwhile, Waldemar and Sylvia happen upon a monastery out in the middle of nowhere. It is inhabited by an old monk-like guy and his mute friend. The old man knows Waldemar's "condition" and helps him by chaining him to a tree. This doesn't hold Waldemar, however, when the moon is bright and the wolfbane blooms. Tearing the tree apart, wolfy Naschy sets off, happening upon a bandit on horseback. Executing yet another awesome leap attack, he lands squarely on the horse, right behind the rider!

Back at the monastery, the monk informs Sylvia that she should use a rare red bloom from a flower that only grows high in the mountains if she wants to save Waldemar. Or, stab him with this handy silver dagger I just happen to have! The monk gives her the knife and wishes her well. Waldemar comes back from his beastly foray to find the monk and his mute friend dead, and Sylvia hostage. Waldemar, in his weakened state, is taken hostage as well.

"I'm... too sexy for these chains."

They are both taken back to Sekkar Khan's fortress. Waldemar is chained up in a cell, while some captive women are disrobed and beaten. Soon it becomes clear that this new medicinal remedy for Sekkar Khan's back involves the harvesting of skin off the girls to be grafted onto his back. It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again! Was she a great big fat person? At any rate, Sekkar Khan skins his humps.

Waldemar watches this happen with barely contained rage, and utters a fabulous line that I must quote: "The full moon has always filled me with fear, but now I wish it would come, so that I could destroy you!!" Meanwhile, Sylvia is put in with the other women, one of which discovers her secret silver dagger. They use this to kill the guard and escape. They find the head witch, who they also kill, but not before she utters another immortal line: "I'll have you killed, you bitches!"

Waldemar hooks back up with Sylvia, and they start to make their escape. However, Sekkar Khan has other plans! This kicks off one of the most well choreographed fights in Naschy film history! Waldemar executes several leap attacks, as well as a flying kick, all into the skull of Sekkar Khan, who finally falls into a spiked pit, which upon their inspection, also contains the corpse of the professor! The finally flee the castle, whereupon Waldemar informs Sylvia that they must go their separate ways, as it's becoming dark, and he's about to turn.

Ladies and gentlemen: The Flying Kick

And turn he does! Sylvia doesn't make it very far before Waldemar is in full wolf-out mode. Suddenly, a yeti attacks Sylvia! Her screams draw Waldemar like a siren song, and soon another epic battle is taking place. The yeti, however, is no match for Waldemar, and soon has its throat bitten out. Unlucky for Waldemar, however, the yeti gets in a final swipe, which proves to be devastating. At the last moment, Sylvia spots the fabled red bloom flower, which she takes a petal from, and, mixing it with her own blood, heals Waldemar for good! Together they walk off, hand-in-hand, into the snowy sunrise.

Friends, this movie is fan-fucking-tastic. It has everything we know and love about Paul Naschy films, and it cranks it all up to 11 and beyond. Love leap attacks? This movie is full of them! Love Paul's pecs? Pull up a chair! I can scarcely believe the amount of win this movie contains. Yeti scalps, Tibetan folk music, cannibalistic cave-dwelling bitches, I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that if you are a fan of this site at all, you should hunt down a copy of this movie post haste. Three Huge Thumbs Up.

"For great justice!!!"


Samuel Wilson said...

All this time I'd been wondering who Naschy was and how he came to be. I appreciate the information; it explains much.

Jenn said...

I swear, if I ever met Naschy at a convention-type situation, I would likely explode! Some ladies feel this way about Daniel Craig or Robert Pattison; but my movie star crush is on Naschy.

I know how much you guys love him, too, so it's a good feelin' to know I'm not the only one obsessed. And Night of the Howling Beast has GOT to be my favorite Naschy monster mashup. Waldemere and a Yeti! SHUT UP! It's like the answer to my wildest dreams!

The Flying Maciste Brothers said...

Well, you're obviously treating yourself extremely well, this week VOV! Of all the (uniformly great) Naschy/Daninsky films, this one gets the most repeat play on the Maciste screens. Great memorial to a film that has always gotten drenched in the piss of condesention by most supposed Naschy-ites. While we can't love the befurred one in quite the same manner as, oh, say Jenn for instance (stand back -- she's gonna blow!), us Bruddas think we will spin this one again pronto!

The Vicar of VHS said...

Ah, Duke, when first I viewed Night of the Howling Beast, I *knew* it would make your heart beat fast, just form the sheer quantity and quality of LEAP ATTACKS alone! That one off the boulder you cap'd is excellent, but the one onto horseback did it for me. And the battle between Paul and Sekkar Khan is fucking LEGENDARY--and Paul's not even in wolf form!

But I can't believe you didn't spend more time ogling Sylvia Solar,who played the Head Witch Wandessa here. She's quite the eeevil villain, and a lovely Eurobabe in her own right. The feminine vengeance subplot here was just one of those added flourishes that makes a Naschy party the most rewarding party you can go to.

Jenn, you are truly a kindred soul to the Duke and myself when it comes to Naschy love. You're welcome at our soirees anytime! I can't imagine what would happen if the Duke and I ever found ourselves in the presence of El Ultimo Hombre-Lobo. I think exploding heads would be in evidence...IYKWIM.

And Macistes, much as I would like to take credit, this one is all the Duke of DVD's work (DOD to the VOV, word). As gay as I am for Naschy, the Duke is PARADE gay for him. ;) It's one of the many reasons we get along so well.

The other is Avery Reverend, the drink of kings. Ask for it by name!

(No, we don't have a sponsorship...but we dream!)

The Duke of DVD said...

Well, Vicar, we do look similar, if only because one finds us sporting the latest Victorian fashions whilst strolling the Rue du Sexor. I in my velvet fop hat, cream ascot, silken vest, and self-removing trousers. You resplendent in your ocher ermine coat, pleated pantaloons, and marcel hair underneath your skullcap of station.

I confess it was a struggle to spend much time ogling Eurobabes whilst watching this film, the beauty of Sylvia notwithstanding. Paul's animal good looks forced blinders on mine eyes, yea, verily, I did try to look away, but was too smitten.

Jenn, you are correct, one simply cannot beat a wolfman vs. yeti throwdown. I was in rapturous awe.

The Flying Maciste Brothers said...

Our apologies! We - uh - mistook the "v" key for the "d" key in the dark... yeah... that's it... Wholesale compliments to the Duke, of course... But the Vicar speaks the truth -- not enough fealty paid the mistress Solar! We'd gladly eat breakfast from her buffet any day!

Tenebrous Kate said...

This movie brims with excellence and is one of my more favorite Naschyflicks. The Mysterious Orient flavor, the Ilsa-Meets-Elvira awesomeness of Wandessa, and the OHMYGODGLEE of the yeti vs. werewolf fight--it's all gorgeous, even in a "dredged up from the bottom of the ocean" Collectors' Copy print. Duke, you've done this one great justice with your musings. Well done.

The Vicar of VHS said...

Ah, I love the smell of Naschy Love in the morning! BTW, Macistes, Jenn, and Empress, if you guys love the wilder, more out-of-control side of Naschy as we do, you should really check out FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (previously reviewed). It probably demonstrated the LEAST restraint of any Naschy flick I've seen, and that's saying something. Plus, it's on just about every Mill Creek 50 movies set, so it's easy and cheap to come by.


My first Naschy film was an afternoon showing of ASSIGNMENT TERROR (Frankenstien, Dracula, the Mummy and the Wolf Man vs aliens and each other)

I was around 11 years old at the time and the movie marked me for life. Especially the Mummy vs Werewolf throwdown.

It wouldn't be until I was in my 30's that I re-discovered this film and learned it was just one part of the maddest film series of all time.

I just wish I could catch more of his work. Why does Ernest get a box set and not Wiedmar Daninsky?

Oh and also this but of prose here?

"Paul Naschy was forged on an altar of evil by blind eunuchs invoking the names of the 8 Beasts from Beyond Time. His piercing eyes, his barrel chest, his penchant for sexing every woman who comes within his personal gravity: these are the reasons we love him. His muscles rippling beneath his bronze skin like insane caged pigs, starving for succor. The wild forelock of auburn hair on his head causes us to enter a torpor state of awesome. His unending joy at film making makes us understand why we love movies, and why we write passionately on this blog."

It made my nipples errect with envy.

The Duke of DVD said...

You are too kind, Al Bruno! Ahh, if only that passage you quoted could be said to accurately describe the power and majesty of Paul Naschy, but alas it was my best attempt.

I envy your exposure to the Naschyverse at such a young age! The Vicar requests pictures of your erect nipples, btw. For "research", so he claims.

Steven W. Bentley said...

This was the movie that first introduced me to Naschy. I searched for several weeks throughout rural Oklahoma for a copy of this movie on vhs after having seen it once. It defies description. I was able to get a copy on vhs, but have been trying to find it on dvd forever. So far, no luck. Your review is hysterical, but misses a couple of small points. Though the Khan IS named Sekkar Khan I swear to you it sounds like everyone is calling him Shaka Khan. I first thought, "The evil one is a mediocre, mid-'80's musician?" Wait, that goes without saying. The fact that Wandessa, the evil witch seems to be treating the evil Khan's bacne (back acne) with the original concept of a skin graft...Waldemar can't find his crew during the day, but the werewolf heads straight for them each time...a burst from a tommy gun at near point-blank range doesn't phase our hirsute hero, but one good bear-hug from a yeti and he's down for the count...not only does the Khan keep an insidious booby trap (a punji pit!!!) in his bedroom, but he also keeps a corpse on the spikes...when Waldemar went up the mountain, he required deep-cold mountain gear, but walking down the mountain it's all shirts and jeans...I could go on all day, but just find this gem. It's brilliant! It's bizarre! It's Naschy!

Aggo said...

I'm a fairly new disciple to the legend that is Naschy having only been in to his movies for the last year or two. Gotta say, I love your reviews! they capture everything cool and funny about his movies from the hot eurobabes he always seduces to his un equalled manliness and the awesome monsters!. I live in sunny England and have been steadily buying all of the BCI releases online, real shame they've gone bust. Bit of info for you, Night of the Howling Beast was banned in England in the 80's as a video nasty under the title 'Werewolf and the Yeti' and still remains banned here to this day as Know one has tried to release it again here!!

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