Belated Obit: The Werewolf's Werewolf

I’m going to go out on a limb and declare PAUL NASCHY the most significant Werewolf death of the decade.

Naschy was the best werewolf you’ve never heard of. Or maybe you heard of him after he died. Or maybe you’re reading this in Venezuela and you’ve seen most of his films.

In addition to playing the wolf, he’s portrayed Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, Quasimodo and Phantom of the Opera. He’s been called the Spanish Lon Chaney, but the fact that he never gained recognition in America makes him the Spanish David Beckham.

Born Jacinto Molina, he changed his name and became an international matinee star. His most famous role was Count Waldemar Daninsky, he appeared in 13 different movies as Waldemar. These sensual European films are unlike American horror counterparts. Sure, they’re schlocky, but they offer a Gothic aesthetic with Aristocracy and ancient castles, the kind you can’t find in the States. Nacshy’s tormented wolfman staggers around the moonlit cities, prowling through the fog in a pillowy white shirt. (NOTE: Much of this obituary first appeared in KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT WEREWOLVES, with this video clip playing while Kevin read it aloud.)

When Count Waldemar is in his dormant state, he’s often brooding. And usually at the mercy of women. Vampire Women. Scientist women. Evil, icy-but-gorgeous women. The films typically contain multiple sex scenes with Waldemar being seduced by 2 or more ladies. They sexually torture him, which often results in turning him into the werewolf. Lycanthropy aside, these are some very unsexy sex scenes.

What’s most interesting about Naschy’s filmography is that even though he’s playing the same part, the movies do not piece together as sequels. Often his character is killed at the end of the film. But then he’s back in the next movie, alive with no explanation. Continuity is thrown out. Stranger still is the fact that Naschy wrote many of these films.

According to Naschy's Autobiography (Memoirs of a Wolfman) director Jose Zabalza was a notorious alcoholic who would instruct his 14-year-old nephew to take over directing the films when he was incapacitated. So yes, these films were made by a 14-year-old. But that only accounts for sloppy continuity within a single film, not the body of work.

The first was in 1968’s NIGHTS OF THE WOLFMAN, a movie that has curiously disappeared (some argue the film was never even finished. But let’s give him credit, he’s dead and 13 is a nice spooky number.) The last time he played the role was in 2004, in a direct-to-DVD release titled TOMB OF THE WEREWOLF – a rehash of the older movies, but this one featured girl-on-girl action.

Probably his most well-know movie (in other countries anyway) was the elegantly titled THE WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN

The other films demand mention (if not an actual viewing) FURY OF THE WOLFMAN, DR. JECKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN, RETURN OF THE WOLFMAN, THE WOLFMAN OF COUNT DRACULA, THE WEREWOLF AND THE MAGIC SWORD (one of the first Spanish-Japanese co-productions.)

Over the course of these films you get a lot of brooding, a lot of dull sex, and plenty of scenes where Naschy’s werewolf is chained to a dungeon wall – only to break free. No matter how many times this happens, people keep chaining him to the wall thinking “this time, it’s gonna work!”)

Naschy also wrote a series of graphic novels about Waldemar Daninsky, simply titled WOLFMAN. It won an award for Best Spanish Comic Book (beating out Condorito!)

Do yourself a favor and visit Naschy's Art websiteand view the gallery of original paintings, with titles like Zombie Samurai, The Conversion of Erika and Embrace of the Devil. This may be the best way we can remember the artist – looking at his oil paintings with the site’s music turned on.

My favorite Naschy film (if I had to pick just one) remains 1975’s THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI. Hopefully, Naschy’s death will inspire a wide-release of this hard to find film, where Waldemar battles the Sasquatch (after 70 minutes of wandering around a mountain and being sexually tortured by lesbian mountain-climbers.) SPOILER: The film has a happy ending, as the Wolfman is able to find a cure for his curse, a mountain flower (this plot-point suggests the Naschy knew his film history, the rare “marifasa” flower was the only known cure for lycanthropy in 1935’s WEREWOLF OF LONDON.)

For better or worse Naschy paved the way for generations of low-budget monster movies. There will never be another Paul Naschy, but we have his dozens of movies, which you should see one of, because like so many auteurs of foreign films, you should be able to say you’ve seen one.


BEST FILMS OF THE DECADE (as written by some dipshit)

Well friends, it's hard to believe the 00's are coming to a close. But one things for sure - it's been an awesome decade for movie-lovers like me. It was no easy task, but here's my round-up of the most best movies that came out in the last 10 years.

10. Drag Me to Hell
Sam Raimi's still got it!

9. District 9
I hope they make a sequel.

8. The Hangover
Funniest movie of the decade!

7. Up
What can I say, I love Pixar

6. Spartacus
I rented this in October of this year, so it counts.

5. Terminator: Salvation
The best Sci-Fi of the decade

4. It's Complicated
A movie for the whole family to see on Christmas weekend.

3. New Moon
A howling good time.

2. Sherlock Holmes
So. Damn. Good.

1. Avatar
Hells yeah.

Did you get it? This list was written by one of those dumb guys who has no real memory and can just barely recall the films he's seen recently. And whenever he walks out of a movie theater, he thinks "that was the best movie I've ever seen." So if one of these chuckleheads were to write a list like this, it would be absurd.

As for my best picks of the decade -- I have 2 kids. I don't get to go to the movies. If I see a movie it's a kid video we'll watch over and over. Sorry list-lovers. Though I did rent "Coming Home", it was excellent.



Superstar Lisa Beebe has been making cupcakes at the last few KEVIN GEEKS OUT shows. To date, she's made themed-cupcakes about Flash Gordon, Werewolves, Vincent Price and Dummy Deaths.

This Friday she's creating a SURPRISE CUPCAKE as part of KEVIN GEEKS OUT: the Holiday Grab Bag Show. Come by and get a mystery dessert. (Even *I* don't know what it is. Will it be ninjas? U.F.O.s? Zombies? Veteran character actor Ned Beatty? Come to the show and find out.) Buy advanced tickets HERE.


Guy Smiley and Me (an embarrassing true story)

Tonight a friend of mine invited me to one of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's screenings of early-Muppets TV clips. The show is like the event I host each month, so it was a perfect fit. Before the screening, the host brought out some prizes and asked trivia questions. I don't know about you but this stuff always makes me nervous. Irrational panic washes over me. Possibly because I take the trivia too seriously. I could care less about the prizes, I just want to be right. It's a character flaw. I get that.

Thing is, these questions were easy. And the audience was made up of hardcore Muppet fans. (Maybe you know the type.)

Between questions I started rummaging through my brain, digging up the most obscure Muppet facts I could think of. The best I could come up with is Guy Smiley's real name.

I became even more interested when a great prize came out: a lithograph of Super-Grover illustrated by comic-artist Alex Ross. I knew my kids would love this poster, so I decided I'd try to answer the question - whatever it was.

The Host asked "According to Sesame Street -- who is everybody's favorite game show host?"

My hand shot up. I was called on.

"Me?" I had to make sure.

"Yes," the host replied.

"Bernie Liedekratz," I answered with a huge, idiotic grin. A confused silence filled the air.

I added, "Also known by his stage name, Guy Smiley."

The crowd (full of hardcore Muppet fans) was audibly impressed. But really, it was not like cool impressive. I probably came off as one of those people with way too much time on their hands. (note: When I was given the prize, the host said, "The poster goes to the guy with way too much time on his hands.")

If you're anything like me, you remember all kinds of odds and ends of dialogue, fun facts, punchlines, household hints, the Skipper's real name**, etc. In my case, I once saw the sketch where The Count meets Guy Smiley and they have this exchange.

THE COUNT: They call me the Count -- because I love to Count.

GUY SMILEY: And they call me Guy Smiley -- because I changed my name from Bernie Leidekratz.

It's a good bit. The gag stuck with me, because it's a pretty subversive for a kids' show.

But by going too far and showboating my warehouse of useless knowledge I looked like some Muppet maniac who should not be allowed 200 feet of Gordon. I mean, sure, I love the Muppets. But I'm into all kinds of stuff -- 1950's existential pulp crime novels, shark attack movies, 70's L.A. punk music, carny culture, pre-Star Wars futuristic science-fiction from the 1970s, alcoholism, William Steig's early work, the Industrial Workers of the World, the Phantasm quadrilogy, phenomenology, The Incredible Hulk, Viet Nam, boxing novels, Tex Avery cartoons, chicken & waffles, George Orwell, Billy Jack, list-making, dance marathons during the Depression, the art of Joe Coleman, live-teleplays of the 1950's, cult musicals, the list goes on and on.

Honestly, how many of us can easily quote Bob Dylan lyrics, commercial slogans, the off-hand remarks of our 7th grade math teacher? Maybe years of not drinking has cursed me with too much of a memory, so I'm a hoarder of mental clutter. (If only I could free up some of that information to remember my Dad's birthday.)

Well, I won a cool poster, which I'll give to my kids of Christmas. And all it took was me coming off like a bigger loser than I actually am.

** Jonas Grumby.


Kevin Geeks Out About Dummy Deaths: show recap

November's installment of Kevin Geeks Out was a one-of-a-kind show, thanks to the driving force of our co-hosts’ obsession and enthusiasum. Howard S. Berger and Kevin Marr brought their A-game -- and over 50 clips from movies in every genre, covering 100 years of cinema from the first filmed Dummy Death (1903’s The Great Train Robbery) to a modern death scene with the most expensive dummies ever killed (2007’s Death Proof) Howard and Kevin run an excellent website solely devoted to this topic. (It’s much more fascinating than you might expect. Reading their essays is like hearing JFK conspiracy theories, after a while you get caught up in it.) NOTE: I hosted the show dressed as the TV Commentator from Dawn of the Dead. There’s a great scene where he calls everyone “dummies”. (I didn’t expect people to know, so I showed the clip.)

The show’s guest speakers were full of great stories. Actor Matt Mitler(who previously delighted the crowd at KGO: Werewolves with footage of his Werewolf transformation in Deadtime Stories) showed some dummy death footage from The Mutilator.
(Matt presented me with a poster from the film, see photo)

Actor Kevin Scullin (who’d previously delighted the crowd playing opposite Vincent Price in a scene from The Imporance of Being Ernest, using the LP "Co-Star with Vincent Price) talked about being replaced by a dummy during his death scene in Dead Mate.
Then Howard and Kevin continued the parade of Dummy Deaths, showing some dazzling clips from On The Waterfront, Warriors of the Wasteland, Rollercoaster, Catch-22, Death Wish 4 and a hilarious industrial training film titled Will You Be here Tomorrow? While the film’s intended message is “practice safety on the factory floor” the real message is “stay in school, kids!”
Later, KGO producer Jay Stern looked at Religious symbolism in 1928’s Joan of Arc, comparing the religious statues of the Catholic Church to the dummy immolation at the stake. We also looked at how the use of Dummy Deaths in the Monkees’ HEAD works as a critique of the false, manufactured band. And then we saw a robot blow-up a chick’s head in Chopping Malll. Always a crowd pleaser.

Soon it was time for a cupcake break. Lisa Beebe’s dummy death cupcakes were a big hit. Each cupcake featured a dead body, which could be a person, an animal, or sometimes just a decapitated head. (This cool food blog reviewed the show - and raved about the cupcakes.) What I loved about this dessert is that it’s interactive, each person could make-up the backstory of how the dummy died – whether they were thrown from the roof of a cut in half by an airplane propellor.

During our break, we called our super-special guest, a living legend in the world of dummy deaths – TOM SAVINI! Little did Tom know that I was dressed as a character from Dawn of the Dead. I should’ve mentioned that.

** In this clip, I started to mention Savini's ringtone, but then I got distracted and never revealed what it is. Now, for the first time anywhere, it can be told: bullfrogs croaking. True story.

Next up, Director Matthew Glasson talked about the secrets of crafting a dummy death scene. He showed one of the most creative dummy deaths of the night by showing a clip from his short The Family Tie. After we watched he broke down the special effects process, talking about the set-backs and success of low-budget dummy-making.

When asked about his influences in dummy deaths, Matthew showed a clip from Fulci’s Don’t Torture a Duckling, which led to another discussion of the religious implications of dummy deaths. I can’t paraphrase it properly, but it explored Gnosticism and the spark of life, and other smart-talk.

Then it was back to the slaughter, as we watched even more explosive dummy deaths from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Scanners, The Fury, Deadly Friend, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Bad Taste (Peter Jackson’s first film) and Maniac.
Of course before the audience could leave, we showed a teaser for the December edition of KEVIN GEEKS OUT, it’s going to be our HOLIDAY GRAB BAG featuring 8 guest speakers, surprise clips, mystery cupcakes, holiday gifts and a tribute to Santa. Click HERE to buy tickets for the December 18th show.

Bonus material:

Deleted Scene from KGO: Dummy Deaths

Show review by Tenebrous Kate

Dummy scene in the E.T. ripoff, Mac & Me.

KONGA: the tiniest dummy death ever filmed (skip ahead to 2:10 if you’re in a hurry)

Lastly: KGO super-producer Jay Stern is starting his new feature film! Click here to find out what you can do to make it happen!


Freddy vs. the Tall Man: a deleted scene from Kevin Geeks Out About Dummy Deaths

In Jeffrey Cooper’s book The Nightmare on Elm Street Companion: The Official Guide to America's Favorite Fiend, director Wes Craven describes a new direction in horror, saying that he’s pioneering a new territory which blurs the lines between the real world and the dream world.

Of course, he’s talking about his own movie A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), but he could just as easily be describing Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm (1979). I’m not knocking the first Elm Street movie, but I think it owes something to Don Coscarelli’s sublime, dream-like film.

Here are the endings to both films. (Note: The Spoilers! statue of limitations expires after 15 years, so “Spoilers!” does not apply.)

(note: I couldn’t get find the Elm Street final scene online, so I had to post this slightly different version without the car turning on the kids. But you get the idea.)

This side-by-side screening was supposed to be part of KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT DUMMY DEATHS, but we cut Phantasm in the interest of showing more dummy deaths. (A decision I stand by.)

Arguably, Craven’s use of the dummy gives his scene an added punch and a not-quite-real dream quality. But Coscarelli knows how to make the most of Monster Hands.

This comparison was previously included in my AMC video-essay about SCARY SCIENCE-FICTION, where we even do the bit with monster hands.

Watch the episode, it's only two and a half minutes, and it's one of the best looking ones we did (tip o' the hat to DP Jeremy Carr, editor Eric Hendricks and the actor's actor, Mike Birch.)