TV/Film Review, werewolves

Werewolf Films: 1970-1979 Part III

Horror Comedy

In Mexico, the werewolf was still a horror-comedy staple, and two films of 1973 came out to further cement it as a figure of fun that is defeated by Mexican wrestlers and kids. Chabelo Y Pepito Contra Los Monstruos Pelicula (1973) is a family film where two young Boy Scouts go up against a range of monsters in a creepy castle, including the Wolfman. It’s up in two parts on Dailymotion.

Also in 1973, Santo and the Blue Demon were back fighting a resurrected Dracula and a werewolf, and save Mexico (hooray!) in the next instalment of this series, Santo y Blue Demon vs Dracula y el Hombre Lobo.

Another horror-comedy, The Werewolf of Washington (1973) also hit screens that year from American cinema, showing that werewolves swung back and fore from the serious serial killer type monster with Gothic Horror ambience to the figure of fun. In this film, which takes the ‘what if there was a monster in the White House’ anxiety and rolls with it, the U.S. President’s press secretary (who is also having an affair with the President’s daughter) gets bitten by a werewolf in Hungary and starts murdering people all over Washington D. C. related to the President’s staff. The full film is available to view (at the time of posting) on YouTube.

The Werewolf of Woodstock (1974/5) was another made-for-TV movie which appeared on ABC’s ‘Wide World of Entertainment’. I’m not sure if it was intended as a comedy, but I can’t get my head around it being anything else. It was appallingly badly made, adding to the… charm, I guess… and is a little slice of history, shot on videotape and about a hippie-hating farmer who gets turned into a werewolf by a lightning strike (the same voltage shown to have genetically altered lab mice, apparently) and goes on a mild rampage at the Woodstock music festival. Kim Newman’s review on Rotten Tomatoes is here.

Las Alegres Vampiras de Vogel (1975) is another horror comedy from Spain that is also a monster mashup, about two girls who take shelter in a Transylvanian castle full of supernatural creatures. By this point, monsters are just played for laughs – there are so many tropes to play with by now that it’s hard not to. We’ve been living with cinematic monsters for 62 years by now (if we count the first film in 1913).

I don’t need to introduce or explain (I hope) the genius of Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977), a technicolor reunion of the 1960s show cast. There’s a werewolf in it. The full film is currently on YouTube (at time of posting). I don’t think there was a werewolf in their first TV movie, The Addams Family (1973).

Folklore and Religion

Cry of the Banshee (1970) starring Vincent Price, shouldn’t be on this list. The howling of the banshee isn’t supposed to sound like a wolf, neither is the ‘sidhe’ meant to be a demonic possession situation and yet, here we are. In Elizabethan England, pre-prime witch hunt era, we nevertheless have an anachronistic witch hunt situation where a vengeful witch calls upon the ‘sidhe’ to avenge her coven and kill off the posh family. No banshee appears in the film, but rather the resulting possession turns an innocent love interest stable boy into a ravening monster. The full film is available (at the time of posting) to watch in full via Dailymotion.

If you want some actual banshee folklore, check out this Irish Post article, and this one from Library Ireland.

Up to now, Filipino horror had not covered the werewolf, but influenced by American cinema this popular monster made its appearance in Filipino-American horror Beast of the Yellow Night (1971), directed by Eddie Romero. This film directly links lycanthropy with Satanism, wherein a man who makes a deal with the Devil is turned into the Devil’s werewolf servant, a killer capable of absorbing evil from his victims.

Enjoy the trailer.

Moon of the Wolf (1972) was a made-for-TV Southern Gothic horror film. Set in the Louisiana Bayou town of Marsh Island, the discovery of a dead girl sets the sheriff on a twisty path of local superstition and loup-garou lore. I’ve included it here because of this, although it could be in the crime horror section too. It has all the elements of Southern Gothic, including a decaying plantation and corrupt ‘old’ family dynasty. This is very much in the ‘duality of man’ vein, although there is a monster and it’s not just in people’s heads as in other crime horror takes on the genre. It’s free to download at the Internet Archive.

Japanese cinema had a twist on the genre, blending the Western concept of werewolves with Japanese folklore and producing Okami No Monsho, Horror of the Wolf (1973), about a teenager who survives the slaughter of his family of wolf-people. This film was based on the 1969 adult horror novel WolfGuy by Kazumasa Hirai, which was translated into a manga for “Bokura Magazine” in 1970, and illustrated by Hisashi Sakaguchi. It was followed up by Moero ôkami-otoko, Wolf Guy: Enraged Lycanthrope (1975).

Although the Japanese wolf became extinct in 1905, Japanese folklore positions the wolf as a protector of the good and punisher of the bad. You can read more about wolves in Japanese folklore here.

Brazilian cinema produced Quem tem medo de Lobisomem? Who’s Afraid of the Werewolf? (1975) which is available to view on YouTube in Portuguese. Two young men give a jilted bride a lift in their jeep and meet a strange family with seven daughters and a son: according to folklore, the son might be a werewolf. (Other folklore of Latin America has it that the seventh son of a seventh son will be a werewolf).

The Argentinian fantasy-horror classic, Nazareno Cruz y el Lobo (1975) is based on the seventh-son folkloric superstition. Nazareno Cruz is a young farmer, the seventh son of a seventh son, who is destined to become a werewolf by this accident of birth. When he turns eighteen he falls in love with Griselda, but the curse is real and about to strike. The Devil turns up to offer him a way out – freedom and riches – if he gives up his love. Nazareno refuses, the werewolf curse strikes, and he becomes embroiled in a series of tragedies. The full film is currently available (without subtitles, in Spanish) on YouTube.

I’m going to include the made-for-TV movie, Deathmoon (1978) here, since the main anxieties in this American-made film seem to be the rejection of American Christocentric imperialism, and the [past] treatment of indigenous populations. In this case, it’s set in Hawaii, where a stressed-out businessman (the epitome of White American capitalist success) decides to visit idyllic Hawaii on vacation because his grandparents were Christian missionaries there. Unfortunately, not everyone was down with being evangelised, and unbeknownst to protagonist Jason, they cursed his grandfather – and all of his grandfather’s male heirs – with lycanthropy. As a result, Jason does indeed become a werewolf when on Hawaiian soil, and kills a few young women. It’s part police procedural, so I could have put it in the Crime/Thriller Horror section too, but I think because of the reasons behind the transformation and the more interesting things this says about relationships with American socio-religious concerns, it should be under this heading.

Wolfman (1979) is another low budget schlocky horror thriller, about an absentee son who returns to the bosom of his (bereaved) family to discover that a Satanic Reverend has put a curse on them and he’s due to inherit it. The curse is… obviously… lycanthropy. Our protagonist Colin has to find a way of ending the curse or die trying. This could be in the thriller section, but again, the use of a Satanic man of the cloth as the originator of the curse has a distinct flavour of sensational religious anxiety, and that made me want to put it here instead. Other Opinions Are Available.


NEXT TIME:

Werewolf films of the 1980s! Well done for sticking around and getting this far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s