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Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf
Tonight's Feature Presentation

DR. JEKYLL AND THE WEREWOLF (1972)

Starring: Paul Naschy, Shirley Corrigan, Jack Taylor, Mirta Miller, Jose Marco

Written By: Paul Naschy Directed By: Leon Klimovsky

The Short Version

This is one of the most random, schizophrenic horror movies I’ve ever seen.

Seriously; peasants with pitchforks and a discotheque in the same flick?  Huh?

If your copy is in English, the dubbing is hilariously bad.

This movie would be complete crap if Paul Naschy wasn’t just so darned likable and cool.

Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf makes no sense, but it’s fun enough for a bewildered laugh and a glimpse at something better.


The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

SHREDDED CO-JACK.

An already amalgamated pairing of mild cheeses then further shredded beyond sensible recognition.  Completely mild and inoffensive; it’s kind of tasty, but it’s hard to say why.


Pairs Well With...

SPANISH QUARTER CABARNET SAUVIGNON - TEMPRANILLO.

An inexpensive blended Spanish red wine for a blended Spanish horror flick.  The wine’s actually better than the movie in quality, but they’re equally amusing.

“The very deepest love can change to the very deepest hatred.”


If you start to wonder if you ended up watching the wrong movie by mistake after the first fifteen minutes of Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf (or, as called in the original Spanish, Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo, which to North American ears sounds like a bad all-night chimichanga place), don’t feel bad.  I imagine that this is a very common reaction, considering that during that time you hear about vampires, the walking dead, and witchcraft, but never a peep about Dr. Jekyll or any werewolf.  Trust me, folks; it only gets stranger and more schizophrenic from there.

Indeed, the first act of the film is so much so that I’m not even going to give you a standard “from the top” intro to explain the plot; it makes better sense if I condense it first.  Eventually, you’ll find out that there is a werewolf here by the name of Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy, born into the world as Jacinto Alvarez), and that a woman named Justine (Shirley Corrigan, The Devil’s Nightmare) falls in love with him after he saves her from some bandits.  The pair end up fleeing back to Justine’s home in England, where she seeks the help of family friend Dr. Henry Jekyll (Jack Taylor, The Ninth Gate), grandson of the infamous physician of the same name, to help find a cure for Waldemar’s lycanthropy.  Jekyll believes that through an application of his famous ancestor’s Mr. Hyde formula, he can indeed cure Waldemar, though, of course, there may be some risks involved…

For fans of European horror films, Paul Naschy is a legend.  By far the most dynamic force behind the Spanish horror movie industry, Naschy would end up with his name on 100 acting roles before his death in 2009, along with 43 writing credits and over a dozen turns in the Director’s chair.  Even if you have no idea of the man’s history, what becomes very obvious when you see his films is that he is also unquestionably a fan.  Watch him act, look at the stuff he’s written, and any horror fan can see without question that he is One Of Us.  His love for the genre is transparent and infectious, and regardless of anything else that’s going on around him, you can’t help but like the guy. 

This is an especially good thing in the case of a movie like Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf (which he also wrote), because frankly, everything around him is a complete, random mess.

Paul Naschy’s favorite old films were monster mash-ups, and that couldn’t be more clearly demonstrated than it is here.  Try to keep up.

We start with a Hungarian man and his English bride discussing a trip to Transylvania for their honeymoon.  Their friends joke about their need to bring garlic to ward off vampires.

On the way to their destination, they run into a destitute hunchback.

When they get to the village, they are given advice and a reception which indeed is exactly like the one Jonathan Harker gets in any “Dracula” story.  This time, however, they are warned to stay away from the cemetery for fear of the walking dead, and away from the nearby castle because the man who lives there is either “a beast” or “the Devil himself.”

We also learn that his female servant is reputed to be a witch who can put “the evil eye” on anyone.  But more than that, her name is Bathory!  (It’s worth noting that even though in English at least she’s also given the first name “Elizabeth,” she ends up bearing no resemblance to the real Bloody Countess, and is actually dispatched pretty easily.  But still!)

While visiting his parents’ graves, the husband character reveals that they were killed in their sleep by axe murderers.  (This has no further bearing on the story, but does, as illustrated here, let Naschy keep every possible horror base covered.)

We throw in some good old fashioned thieving bandits, for flavor, and they conveniently kill the husband character so that Justine can be freed up to fall in love with Waldemar for rescuing her.

At length, she learns that Waldemar is a werewolf.

They decide to flee to England, just in time to avoid an old school peasant mob, literally armed with pitchforks, who are about to storm the castle a-la Frankenstein.  (In the English version, the mob is doubly hilarious, as their walla-walla of dialogue consists entire of “Kill! Kill!  Come on, kill!”)

When they get to England, we now officially have A Spanish Werewolf In London, predating An American Werewolf In London by nine years.

Then, of course, they consult Dr. Jekyll for a cure.  His suggestion is priceless: inject Waldemar with his grandfather’s famous serum just before the full moon, turning him into Mr. Hyde.  The assumption is that when Waldemar then has the urge to turn werewolf, the Hyde personality will prove stronger, and that will drive the werewolf out of him.  Then the anti-Hyde serum will be injected, and Waldemar will be cured of everything!  Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense to you; it makes sense to no one else, either.

Of course, Waldemar does become Mr. Hyde.

Hyde kills a hooker a-la Jack the Ripper.

And just to add one more horror, he visits a discotheque.

Now if only someone had ended up seeing a ghost or hearing a banshee, Naschy would have had the whole smorgasbord covered!

Mash-ups are always dicey propositions, and this one in particular is just a senseless mess.  At the end of the day, Naschy has decided to add too much to his mix, and the result is a story that barely holds together and barely makes sense.  El Hombre Lobo (drive thru open all night long!) doesn’t even get to England until 35 minutes into the movie; really, most of what happens before then ends up being superfluous, and takes away from time that would have proven much better spent on the central Jekyll/werewolf story.

With that said, Naschy is a delight.  As noted, his joy as a horror fan is obvious, and he’s not a bad actor, either.  His best moment in this film comes as Mr. Hyde, when a nameless bloke out for a cigarette by the edge of the Thames asks him for a light.  Hyde offers up a lighter with one hand, and pushes the man into the river using the tip of his can with the other.  It is on all fronts a fabulous scene, and the pleasure taken in playing it by Naschy as an actor couldn’t be more clear.

The makeup he wears for his two alter egos is also well done.  The transformation into Hyde is a simple one; he simply gets pale makeup for his skin, darker makeup around the eyes, and bushier hair that makes him look like a cross between John Belushi and Pete Rose.  Other than that, he just changes his stance and facial expression.  It’s subtle, but it’s also perfect, and I very much dig the choice.  (Though I’m confused how someone who first meets him as Hyde and the sees him again as himself can’t recognize that he’s still the same person.)  As for his werewolf look, that hearkens back to the old Universal standard of lots of extra hair, and also ends up turning out great.  I also very much like the gore hanging from his mouth when he looks up from a kill, or the blood dripping down his jaw when he runs away from one.

Of course, this should come as no surprise, since the werewolf was Naschy’s favorite character; indeed, this movie is actually the sixth of around thirteen for El Hombre Lobo.  (How he’s supposed to come back after this one, who knows, but hey, it’s the movies.)

However, just as Paul Naschy was a force of will in the Spanish horror industry, so he is with this movie, and if it doesn’t involve him directly, it all falls apart.  The rest of the acting here is pretty dreadful.  Taylor’s Jekyll is so intellectually intense that it often seems that he’s forgotten to breathe or loosen up enough to have a successful bowel movement any time in the past week.  Corrigan’s Justine seems to be good at nothing but screaming, when asked to do anything else, she seems lost.  It doesn’t get much better down the line, either.

As for the direction, while there are a few beautiful shots here (usually involving Naschy horror sequences, which I expect he had some additional control of himself), for the most part, it’s pretty awful, especially whenever there’s fighting involved.  Even the most amateur of rigged wrestlers pull their punches more convincingly, and the director’s idea of showing that someone fell down is to suddenly tilt the camera skyward.  Indeed, it looks to be less the work of a single man than it does to be that of a committee of film students.

And not that it was the original crew’s fault, but even the people who dubbed the film into English got into the act.  Not only is the vocal dubbing awful, but the timing on the sound effects is also off, to the point where in one scene where a rock is brought down upon someone’s head, you hear the crack or the rock being dropped a full three seconds before it happens on the screen.

Bottom line, for these elements, and for all the complete silliness that is the mash-up of Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf, this movie is very much prime material for a Bad Movie Night treatment.  However, thanks to the sincerity and indeed the onscreen excellence of Paul Naschy, Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf is also worth seeing for its many moments depicting a true horror artist at work.  Just remember that those moments of quality are completely covered in layer upon layer of cheese, and you’ll be okay.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, October, 2011


You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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