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Paul Naschy

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The Mark of NaschyPaul Naschy @ IMDB

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Overview

Jacinto Molina Alvarez was born on September 6th 1934 in Madrid, Spain. Growing up during the Spanish Civil War the young Molina sought escapism in the cinema and as an adult he spoke of the profound influence that viewing Universal Studio’s ‘Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man’ aged 11 had on his burgeoning imagination.

Molina studied architecture at the University of Madrid where he also trained in weightlifting, winning a national championship title in 1958. Under the pseudonym Jacks Mills he wrote a number of pulp novels. When he came to write his first screenplay in 1967 he had already gained some experience of the film industry by working as an extra.

The script was entitled ‘La Marca Del Hombre Lobo’ and Molina imagined his hero Lon Chaney Jnr, who had played the Wolf Man in all of Universal Studios classic monster movies, in the lead role. As it turned out the part would go to Molina himself and, although credited for the screenplay under his own name, he adopted the alias Paul Naschy for his lead acting debut. Between 1967 and 1996 Naschy played the eternally cursed Waldemar Daninsky and his hairy alter ego in a total of 11 films.

1970’s Werewolf's Shadow (aka ‘The Werewolf Vs The Vampire Woman’) was a huge hit with audiences and kicked off a boom in Spanish horror cinema. But Naschy wasn’t content playing the part of just one icon of horror. Throughout the 1970’s and early 80’s he wrote and/or starred in a succession of energetic and colourful gothic horror adventures and appeared on screen as every legendary horror movie character from Dracula and The Mummy to Frankenstein’s Monster and Mr Hyde. Highlights from this prolific period include Horror Rises From The Tomb, ‘Dracula’s Great Love’, Vengeance of the Zombies, Blue Eyes of The Broken Doll, ‘Curse Of The Devil’, Hunchback of the Morgue, ‘Dr Jekyll And The Werewolf’, ‘A Dragonfly For Each Corpse’ and ‘Panic Beats’. In 1976 Naschy made his debut as director with ‘Inquisition’.

The influence of ‘Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man’ resonates through all of Naschy’s best films. Despite the indulgence of the pre-requisite gore and nudity demanded by modern audiences Naschy’s best movies, like the aforementioned ‘Werewolf’s Shadow’, are essentially grim fairytales. The castles and crypts, the ancient curses, the mad doctors and even madder monsters all appear like the fevered imaginings of that 11 year old boy who desperately wants to believe that there really is a Wolf Man lurking out there in the woods somewhere. It is this energetic dedication to keeping alive the spirit of macabre romanticism that gives Naschy’s best films their unique charm.

Although he suffered a heart attack in the early 1990’s and underwent triple-bypass surgery Naschy made a full recovery and published his autobiography ‘Memoirs Of A Wolfman’ in 1997. He remained active in the 21st Century appearing in such films as ‘School Killer’ and ‘Rottweiler’ and gave what may well be a career best performance in the excellent ‘Rojo Sangre’ which he also wrote. With this film Naschy cleverly satirised his own nostalgia for the gothic horrors of the past and the current blood-soaked state of the genre in a way which echoes Boris Karloff’s last great film role in Peter Bogdanovich’s ‘Targets’.

Naschy was inducted into Fangoria magazines Horror Hall Of Fame in 2000 and in 2001 he was awarded Spain’s Gold Medal for Fine Arts in recognition of his contribution to cinema, something which the young Molina would never have imagined possible when he embarked on his monster movie rampage under the rule of General Franco over 30 years previous. Many of his films have attained well-deserved cult status with a whole new generation of fans thanks to their appearance on DVD.

Sadly Paul Naschy died aged 75 on the 1st of December 2009 from pancreatic cancer. El Hombre Lobo may now be at rest but his spirit lives on in the many strange and wonderful tales told to us by Jacinto Molina Alvarez.

Recommended Viewing

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Narcan is the GCDb's esteemed UK contributor. As a youth his earliest exploitation film experience was a My Bloody Valentine/The Funhouse midnight double bill. Grindhouse icons that he holds in highest regards are Christina Lindberg and Frank Henelotter. Two of his favorite exploitation genres include Nunsploitation and Lucha Libre.

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