Curse of the Devil
Spain / 1973
Directed by Charles Aured
Starring
Paul Naschy
Fay Falcon
Vidal Molina
Color / 84 Minutes / Not Rated
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
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4
    6   10 = Highest Rating  
Guest Review by Noah Soudrette
In medieval times, Count Daninsky defeated the leader of a powerful coven of witches and sentenced the leader's wife, Elizabeth Báthory, to be burned at the stake. But before the flames consumed her, she cursed Daninsky's entire line. Hundreds of years later Daninsky's descendent, Waldemar, shoots and kills a wolverine only to find a young gypsy man, dead, in its place. This angers the gypsies, who call on the power of the devil and resolve to inflict Waldemar with the Curse of the Werewolf. Waldemar is seduced by one of the many voluptuous gypsy women (after she is shagged by Satan); she uses a werewolf skull to mark him with the curse as he sleeps.
    Waldemar begins to transform and ravage the countryside, but most of his attacks are attributed to an escaped maniac. Waldemar then runs into the daughter of an engineer, who has just moved to the area. They begin a torrid romance, which is at times set back by her younger sister having the hots for Waldemar as well. Waldemar's full moon attacks can only go unchecked for so long. Between a rampaging werewolf, a self-sacrificing girlfriend, a psycho killer and an angry mob, everything eventually comes to a bloody head.
    Also known as Return of the Walpurgis, this is considered to be one of the better Paul Naschy pictures. I really hope this isn't the case. While I saw a lot of things here and there that I liked, the film, as a whole, is rather badly acted and dreadfully boring when Naschy isn't ripping people's throats out. I like the historical setup with Báthory, and the period the story takes place in adds to the atmosphere. Naschy (Werewolf Shadow), as Daninsky, is a dreadful actor here a shame since he gives an indication he could do much better. This is, at its heart, an exploitation film, and it relies almost entirely on its werewolf attacks and sex scenes. These scenes are handled very well and Naschy's werewolf is fun to watch in action. While the direction by Charles Aured (Eliminators) shows an admirable attempt to be artful, it sadly falls flat. The cinematography of Francisco Sánchez (Night of the Seagulls) seems intentionally washed out; colors are muted in many scenes. Given the limited budget, however, it has a nice look.
    I think the reason this flick is so disappointing is that one can easily see the potential for so much more in it. I've always felt that of all the classical monsters, the werewolf is the hardest to pull off in a film. While Nachy's creature isn't as bad as most of its contemporaries, it needs a better film to function in.

Anchor Bay presents Curse of the Devil in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced. The transfer itself is excellent, which is to be expected from Anchor Bay at this point. The print used is in surprisingly good shape for a film made 29 years ago and on such a low budget. The print does have some minor damage, but none of it is distracting. While the picture is really washed out at times, as I said earlier, this appears to be the intent of the cinematographer. The sound on this DVD is presented in mono. The track is very clear with no hiss whatsoever. The track is so clear in fact, that the dubbed nature of the film, while being distracting on its own, is even more so, since it sounds like the whole movie takes place in a sound booth. (Still, this is to be preferred over a muddy, hissing soundtrack.) The supplements here are light in number but still very pleasing overall. First is a 15-minute interview with the werewolf himself, Paul Naschy.
    This interview is fascinating and Naschy comes across as a very intelligent, competent, and respectful actor who really knows his stuff. Every second of this interview I found truly interesting and while my respect for the film may be questionable, my admiration for Naschy is high after watching this. He talks about his personal history, why he went into film, the movies themselves, and even gives a tip of the cap to the other great horror actors of film history. Also in the extras department are a decent photo gallery, Naschy bio, and a theatrical trailer for Curse of the Devil. Overall, while this may not be the best werewolf film I've seen, it's not the worst. The DVD itself is very well done, and with the interview thrown in, would definitely be worth it to the Spanish horror film aficionado, Naschy fan, or overall curious and adventurous viewer. 9/16/02
UPDATE The Anchor Bay disc reviewed here went OOP in 2007, but is generally still available. In June 2008 BCI/Deimos released a new edition as part of the company's Spanish Horror Collection. It went OOP a little over a year later.
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