- Naschy, Paul
- (1934- )Some actors think they were born to play Hamlet, some top their career with a magisterial King Lear; since he was a kid, Jacinto Molina (a.k.a. Paul Naschy) decided he wanted to play the wolf-man. His dream was fulfilled on no less than 12 occasions, with his impersonation of Waldemar Daninsky, a hugely popular character he invented and played to great success in a series of horror films since 1967. Naschy's career as an actor, scriptwriter, producer, and director raises some questions about what is central or marginal to film history. Working systematically in the artistic margins of the industry, apparently with limited ambition to embark on more prestigious movies, always dealing with very low budgets, he is, nevertheless one of the most international Spanish performers ever, and a filmmaker with a stronger fan base, as evidenced by blogs and numerous tributes. He became an icon for horror fans and also for fledging filmmakers like Alex de la Iglesia, and an example for those who aim to produce films on shoestring budgets that are both personal and popular.After working as an extra in the movies, Naschy decided to put together his own projects. He has recalled the revelation it was for him, as a child, when he was taken to see a classic in which Count Dracula was engaged in combat with a werewolf. In 1967, he starred for the first time as wolf man Waldemar Daninsky in Mark of the Wolfman (a.k.a. Frankenstein's Bloody Terror, Enrique López Eguiluz, 1968). The film was released internationally to great success. In a Spanish context, it was an adaptation of Hammer-style horror, although with-out the nudity that was becoming frequent at the time. A sequel, The Monsters of Terror (Hugo Fregonese, 1970) followed shortly after, and in 1971, he made the greatest hit in the series, Walpurgis Night (a.k.a. Werewolf's Shadow, a.k.a Blood Moon, León Klimovsky).Although Naschy plays the same character in all of them, no continuous narrative thread links the movies; they simply recycle violent deaths, moody atmospheres, and cheap make-up transformations. Still, their international impact and low budgets was sustainable, and Naschy developed a very personal stamp which, in its simplicity, was attractive to wide audiences: as with Disney, there is always a new generation with this particular kind of demands. Some of the early films were directed by Leon Klimovsky, although Naschy took on directing responsibilities in the early 1970s.His films became slightly more sophisticated over the years, and he drew from other horror traditions, as is the case with The Mummy's Revenge (1973). He also expanded his range in the mid-1970s, with a number of issue-centered films popular in the early Transition including El francotirador (The Sniper, Carlos Puerto, 1977), Pecado mortal (Mortal Sin, Miguel Ángel Díez, 1977), and El Transexual (The Transexual, José Lara, 1977). The latter was the only one that had any impact at all, a feature that included documentary sections and was inspired by an actual sex-change case. After these attempts, he went back to horror, including self-parodies like Buenas noches señor monstruo (Good Night, Mr. Monster, 1982).Naschy's career slowed in the 1990s, but by that time he had become a legend among young audiences and, by the end of the decade, he received a number of tributes and experienced a second wave of popularity that allowed him to act again in a number of films, directed by others, which exploited his career. His more recent movies as an actor include: El lado oscuro (The Dark Side, Luciano Berriatúa, 2002), El corazón delator (The Tell-Tale Heart, Alfonso S. Suárez, 2003), Rojo sangre (Blood Red, Christian Molina, 2004), and A Werewolf in Amazonia (Ivan Cardoso, 2005), an update of H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau.
Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. Alberto Mira. 2010.