Perhaps the most perverse aspect of being an avid moviegoer or aficionado is the mere fact we aren't exposed to all types of cinema. We are, in fact, lucky if a few Foreign films somehow filter through to the multiplex cinema & some of us make a special point to check them out. The rest of us are satisfied with the status quo & desire nothing more than what the mainstream audiences crave. At the end of the day, there is so much around the world to see & we have simply allowed ourselves to be blinded to all that exists in any given format.
One of the most commonly overlooked genres is the Spanish Fantasy/Horror which is as wide as any in America. There are thousands upon thousands of great films which hardly anyone has heard of that have seemingly fallen through the cracks. A few films have somehow managed to maintain a shelf life through old VHS tapes which are now available on quality DVDs & that's truly a godsend. It's time to re-visit those oldies for a brief moment in our lives & to perhaps discover what we should have had the pleasure of enjoying all along. Thankfully, there are now websites which try to aid in facilitating work for veteran actors who were leads in the international Horror classics so this legacy may continue to evolve.
Perhaps the most underrated or overlooked actor of the Spanish Horror genre is non other than Paul Naschy AKA Jacinto Molina. Often compared to cinema greats such as Lon Chaney or Vincent Price, one can't help but be at least curious when considering the longevity of his career & obtaining some of his best works on DVD. Perhaps some of you may even remember hearing of his Wolf Man films in the late '60s, '70s, or perhaps even the middle '80s. The most common film to appear in the states was THE CRAVING which Vestron Video released in the late '80's. THE CRAVING videotape wasn't great quality but I prized this possession nonetheless for many years as Naschy's work was extremely difficult to find back then. Fortunately, most of his Wolf Man films are now readily available on DVD & the transfers are astonishingly beautiful.
Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky is certainly one of Naschy's most famous Horror characters & Naschy holds an amazing record of playing the same role in 12 consecutive films easily beating out Chaney who only played a wolf man 7 times in his entire life. Unfortunately, none of the 12 films seem to be connected as far as plot goes nor could they be placed in any sort of chronological order. In no two films does the character have the same origin & many of them didn't have the same distributor. Strangely enough, Naschy had developed quite a cult following throughout the years despite these inconsistencies.
Although Naschy was most famous for playing the Wolf Man character, he tackled many other roles & scripted several films which eventually would lead to directing projects in the late "70's. While certainly impossible to locate all the films in Naschy's prolific career, we should tip our hats to the man for trying not only to maintain the genre but ensuring these films would be viable for many years to come. Count Dracula, Mr. Hyde, a mummy, & a hunchback are just a few of the great characters Naschy would bring to life. Pretty impressive, eh?
Today, Naschy continues to work as hard as ever pursuing projects of all kinds in the artworld. There is no telling where we will find him on any given day but we can be assured that his name won't be easily forgotten. Some of the recent work in the Naschy archives would be an autobiographical book entitled "Memoirs of a Wolf Man" in 2000 & the film Rojo Sangre was unleashed in 2003 on DVD. Although ROJO SANGRE is much different than any other Naschy film I've ever seen, it's easily one of the best overlooked Horror films in my personal opinion. In addition to his many contributions to Horror cinema, Naschy also appeared in the play of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray story. Probability suggests that Naschy still has more work to complete in his life which is reassuring to hardcore fans like myself.
The history of Spanish Horror lives on in the hearts of those who have followed these films for years & now can see them they way they were meant to be seen. Throughout the course of nearly forty some odd years, we have come a long way. Guillermo Del Toro has made himself a household name with films like Pan's Labyrinth although his story wasn't an overnight success either. Perhaps the crossover acceptance of his masterpiece will give way to more Horror films produced in Spanish countries being imported to North America. Again, one can hope that this wasn't a fluke & great things can be expected sometime in the near future.
As I approached my 34th birthday last November, I had to stop & reflect upon all the great cinema that I'd been fortunate enough to discover in my life & all the films that still find their way into my heart even now. Probability suggests I'll never be completely satisfied with being confined to what the friendly multiplex will allow us to see but I'm constantly searching for new finds in the digital world as far as great cinema goes. I give my utmost respect to those out there still cranking out the great works of art even though I may not see them for many years after their initial release. Trust me, there is plenty of material out there which is good regardless of the medium in which it can be seen & we are fortunate to have this material readily available. Do not take it for granted.
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Birth name Jacinto Molina Álvarez . He is a Spanish movie actor, screenwriter, and director working primarily in horror films. His portrayal of numerous classic horror figures--the wolfman, a hunchback, Count Dracula, a mummy--have earned him recognition as a Spanish Lon Chaney. King Juan Carlos I presented Naschy with Spain's Gold Medal Award for Fine Arts in 2001 in honor of his work, which still continues to this day.