DVD Review: Attack of the Werewolves
Review by Tristan Bishop
I’ll admit it. I had not heard any advance word on Attack Of The Werewolves and I was still incredibly excited about it. Any sane readers out there (are there any? Let’s pretend for the moment there are) will no doubt be asking themselves ‘why?’ right now. Well, let’s just say that firstly, it has werewolves in it, and I’m a big fan of werewolves, and, secondly, it’s Spanish. The Spaniards have possibly the greatest legacy of any country when it comes to werewolf films, and this is entirely down to the work and obsession of one man, the late Paul Naschy, who took his boyhood obsession with the Universal monsters of the 30s and 40s and played several of them in a series of lurid, colourful, comic-book style films made mostly in the 1970s. The wolfman was Naschy’s personal favourite, and he went on to star as Waldemar Daninsky, a man cursed with lycanthropy, in a dozen movies. Attack Of The Werewolves, therefore, by dint of title and country of origin, immediately brought Naschy to mind. The second thing I found out about Attack Of The Werewolves is that it’s a comedy, and then my heart sank a little, as I have seen a few too many lacklustre comedy horrors of late. Ah well, writing film reviews can be a tricky business, filled with letdowns and nasty surprises, so I resigned myself to more of the same and stuck the film on… thankfully I was surprised in a much more pleasant way than expected.
The film starts with a great (and somewhat saucy) graphic novel-esque title sequence explaining the historical background to the tale, and then quickly brings us into the modern day with struggling writer Tomas (Gorka Otxoa), who, along with his little dog, has been summoned back from Madrid to the place of his birth in rural Spain in order to be honoured with ‘the freedom of the village’. Things, unsurprisingly enough, are not quite what they seem however, and it transpires that Tomas has actually been brought back so that the locals can rid themselves of a century-old werewolf curse which can only be ended by spilling the blood of a direct descendant of the line which Tomas happens to a part of.
Now, that may well sound like a slightly spoilerific synopsis, but it isn’t – There are a couple of good twists waiting for you past those revelations, and Attack Of The Werewolves is a surprising kind of film in general, the biggest surprise being that it’s actually rather good. For the first half the film is slow, but not without a great deal of charm, most of which comes from the interplay between Tomas, Mario and Calisto (his highly annoying literary agent and the odd friend from his childhood who happens to have a rather worrying obsession with sheep), who all play their roles perfectly. However, when the curse and Tomas’ part in attempting to lift it become clear, the film kicks into another gear, and the laughs come thick and fast – One particular scene involving a finger had me laughing out loud, and whilst (like any comedy) some of the jokes don’t work quite so well as others, the aforementioned charm carries it through. As for the werewolves themselves, well, extra kudos has to be given for the old-school physical effects used for the transformations, and the beasts look all the better for it, although their movements and jumping have obviously been CGI-assisted. There is some good gore too, and refreshingly free (as far as I could tell) of the computer blood splatters that plague so much modern low budget material. All this is topped off by a cool soundtrack featuring some great Spanish indie rock and surf tunes that this reviewer is now going to have to track down.
I’ll be honest with you, the film is not going to make anyone’s top ten of the year (unless you’re really REALLY into lycanthropes), but it is a small, affectionate, fun and funny tribute to the Spanish gothic of Naschy et al, and works very well on its own level. If you’re a fan of old school Eurohorror or just fancy a giggle or two, Attack Of The Werewolves is well worth a watch.
Attack of the Werewolves is available on Region 2 DVD on 8th October, from Kaliedoscope.