Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spanish Horror in MONSTER WORLD #1



It was rare for James Warren's FAMOUS MONSTERS and MONSTER WORLD to mention Spanish horror, but the first issue of MONSTER WORLD (1964) did briefly note Jess Franco's LA MANO DE UN HOMBRE MUERTO--translating it literally as THE HAND OF A DEAD MAN--and offering a tantalizing still, too. We know this film on DVD as THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS, a title taken from a French one for this film, LE SADIQUE BARON VON KLAUS.

One wonders if an English print exists of THE HAND OF THE DEAD MAN, and what young readers thought about never hearing of or seeing this film again--until they grew up and forgot all about it when the Image DVD came out in 2001 with the French print, subtitled in English.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jason Dark and the Ghosts Templar

While searching for Blind Dead graphics on the internet, I came upon something that made me immediately stop. This:



If you're like me, your jaw drops as you gaze upon this wondrous, previously unseen artwork featuring Amando de Ossorio's "Blind Dead" Templar Knights. I had to investigate what this was all about. I found out that the artwork was the cover for one of the volumes in the Jason Dark series of adventures, a newly-minted series that's an intriguing throwback to the dime-novel/pulp world of the past. The stories concern Jason Dark, a Geisterjäger (ghost hunter), who together with his assistant Siu Lin battle all sorts of macabre demons and monsters in Victorian England. The milieu is unabashedly Gothic, with inspiration taken from German pulps of the 1970s and classic horror and euro-horror cinema. The novels (or rather novelettes) are fast, captivating reads in the best page-turning tradition of the pulps, and even feature the pulp premise of including the first "hook" chapter of the next volume at the end. The project is the work of Guido Henkel, a German PC and video game developer, who was involved with REALMS OF ARKANIA and PLANESCAPE: TORMENT, among other games.

What amazed me, as I dug deeper into the Jason Dark series is the sheer, joyous brilliance of the project: A revival of the dime-novel or pulp adventure tale, available as a smaller-size hardcopy of 64 pages or an online download--and, at least now, available for reading online for free. The Jason Dark website is as professional as you can get (Henkel has years of experience with his DVD Review & High Definition), and features the latest news, a download area, a forum, a store, etc.

The Jason Dark series is clearly influenced by Germany's extraordinarily popular John Sinclair series, written by Helmut Rellergerd under the pseudonym--Jason Dark. Even the cover designs attempt to recall the John Sinclair series. The Sinclair series began in 1973 and has almost reached 2,000 novels! Unfortunately, except for an online brief attempt, the John Sinclair series has never been translated into English, but Jason Dark gives a taste of what those adventures, and others marketed in Germany during that time, may be like.





I sampled GHOSTS TEMPLAR online, but when I received three volumes of the series, instead of giving GHOSTS TEMPLAR a better read, I picked up THE BLOOD WITCH under some uncanny impulse and only sleep made me put it down. The villainess in THE BLOOD WITCH is named Asa Vajda. If that name is familiar, it should be. Asa Vajda is the witch in Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY.

So you see the potential here. A fun, pulp series that encompasses not only traditional demons and monsters, but those from the world of euro-horror, including Spanish horror. Do I see Morpho potentially lurking in the background? Dr. Orloff? Or perhaps Waldemar Daninsky?

Incidentally, I found out that Templar cover is the work of Gary Crump. Henkel created a general cover design, using the Blind Dead posters as inspiration, and Crump took it from there. Excellent work and, again, in the best tradition of the pulp.

I wish Guido Henkel and this project much success. It's thrilling to see someone attempt something like this--and in such a grand, entertaining style.

[I have to mention a neat item being offered from the Jason Dark website that Spanish horror fans may want near their computer--a mouse pad featuring the same Templar artwork as shown above. Proceed here for more details.]

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Eugenio Martin


Photo from Monster World.

Director Eugenio Martin was honored at the Sitges film festival with the Nosferatu Award. Known to horror film fans for HORROR EXPRESS (1972) and A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL/IT HAPPENED AT NIGHTMARE INN (1973), he also directed one of the earliest Spanish horror films, HYPNOSIS (1962), as well as a couple of other chillers, and was proficient in all genres. I must note that recent photos of Martin show him looking somewhat frail, and I wish him the best of health, if indeed he is ill. A very important person in Spanish horror.

EUGENIO MART√ćN - Premi Nosferatu from Sitges Film Festival on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Horror of the Lady of the Lake (2010) - Trailer



I've been aware of this Spanish film for several years, ever since promotion started for it around 2004. Everything I've seen has impressed me very much. The writer and director Diego Vazquez has attempted to use old fashioned methods of cinematography, including matte paintings and stop motion, to craft a fantasy that immerses one in atmosphere and visual mysteries. This is a true independent film, without much financing, but with an extraordinary amount of dedication and talent behind it. The film (Spanish title: EL HORROR DE LA DAMA DEL LAGO) is premiering at this year's Sitges film festival, and I eagerly await viewing it one day.

The film's website: www.aticusfilms.com

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Perverse Faces of Victor Israel



The Sitges film festival is not only premiering the Naschy documentary, THE MAN WHO SAW FRANKENSTEIN CRY, but on October 10th also a documentary on the late Victor Israel, one of the most recognized faces in Spanish cinema. Titled LOS PERVERSOS ROSTROS DE VICTOR ISRAEL (THE PERVERSE FACES OF VICTOR ISRAEL), the documentary traces his career and contains reminiscences from fellow film professionals like Javier Aguirre, Eugenio Martin, Jordi Grau, Frank Brana, and others. The project initially began as a ten-minute video tribute, but quickly blossomed into a longer format.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

BCI/Deimos 2006 Promotional Spanish Horror Collection Folder



In 2006, when BCI/Deimos was putting together the first of its Spanish horror DVDs, the company printed a promotional 4-page folder for the future of these releases. As you can see the graphics were completely different than what actually came out. The series was going to be titled "The Spanish Horror Collection," but that was dropped as it was felt that sales would be lessened by the foreign tag of "Spanish".... Also the design was changed, too. These were initially going to look like ye-olde books. And there was going to be numbering on the spine to spark that collectivitis among fans. Also, note that the idea was to put out the series in HD DVD, but that, too, didn't come through, when Blu-Ray started to win the marketing war. (BCI/Deimos eventually released a Blu-Ray combo of NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF and VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES in 2008.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Letters from Naschy

In the course of my knowing Paul Naschy, I received several letters from him, which are obviously dear treasures now. In the letter below, dated March 15, 2005, Naschy wrote about the film he had just completed in Brazil, AMAZONIA MISTERIOSA, currently titled, in English, A WEREWOLF IN THE AMAZON. The scripts he wrote in longhand probably look like this.



Naschy would address me by my full first name, Miroslaw, though he would write the "w" as a "v," which is the way it sounds when spoken in Polish and Spanish. ("Mirek" is the shortened, familiar Polish version of Miroslaw, btw.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Preview of THE MAN WHO SAW FRANKENSTEIN CRY



THE MAN WHO SAW FRANKENSTEIN CRY is a new documentary on Paul Naschy that will be premiering at the Sitges film festival, October 7 & 8. Written and directed by Naschy's biographer Angel Agudo.