Review: Muchas Gracias Senor Lobo / Author: Thorsten Benzel / Publisher: Fab Press / Release Date: Out Now
If this book was a B-movie, its tagline would go something like “More one sheets! More lobby cards! More admats... Than you ever dared dream!” Boasting over 1200 colour images, it brings together between hardcovers a mass of rarely seen memorabilia relating to the weird and wonderful films of Spanish horror icon Paul Naschy. It's a veritable treasure trove, and Naschy nuts will be reaching for a copy with wolfish claws. But it's a delight for the general reader, too, because it offers, in the author's words, a “journey through a lost world of movie advertising, the likes of which we'll not see again."
For those who don't know, Paul Naschy was a weightlifter turned actor, screenwriter and director who put Spanish horror on the map with his reluctant wolf-man, Waldemar Daninsky, a character he played on numerous occasions. The bulk of the book focuses on his 20-year heyday from 1968 to 1988, with separate entries on each of his major films during this key period.
Naschy's oeuvre is famous (or infamous, take your pick) for its gaudy visuals and gonzo updating of Universal-style monster rally movies. No surprise, then, that these pages offer a smorgasbord of ripped bodices, severed heads, hairy beasts and naked girls in dungeons. In terms of kitsch beauty, the standouts are the original Spanish posters and their Italian counterparts, many of them painted by top artists in the field. The real joy of the book, though, is in the insight it gives into how distributors in different territories would often organize their own marketing strategies to suit themselves.
As Benzel explains, all kinds of stunts would be pulled to get unwitting punters through the door – the actors' names changed so that they sounded less foreign, and movies blithely retitled in homage to the latest trends. For instance, in Germany the werewolf movie El Retorno de Walpurgis became Night of the Diabolical Orgies (“Nubile girls possessed by Lucifer!”). No mention of a werewolf (you can imagine the audience wondering, “Where are the girls? Who's the furry fella?”). Then again, sometimes it's a complete mystery what the distributors were thinking. Also in Germany, posters for Los Monstrous del Terror (about Frankenstein and Dracula) featured two people who had nothing at all to do with the movie, Marty Feldman and a Munich sex show artiste called Count Horror Charly (separately, not together, in case your mind's boggling).
Thorsten Benzel's text provides a level of meticulous detail that will be invaluable for fans, historians and collectors, while still retaining an engaging playfulness and warmth – a worthy accompaniment to what is a stupendously lovely volume. Great, gory eye candy, and the next best thing to glutting yourself on the films.