By Leo Balunes Jr., Special to the Star
"The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman" deserves to be called an underrated film because its use of suspense creates horrific effects that attract the audience into watching the entire movie.
This eerie and low-quality film centers on two female college students, Elvira (Gaby Fuchs) and Genevieve (Barbara Capell), who travel to an abandoned castle and meet its owner, Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy). Somewhere around the castle grounds, the three find the tomb of an ancient vampiress, Countess Wandessa (Patty Shepard). The two women find themselves in a murderous situation after they accidentally revived the monster and discovered Mr. Daninsky’s werewolf secrets. Now, with the battle between werewolf and vampire, the college friends must avoid the conflict without falling victim to one of them.
The film’s setting, Daninsky’s castle, contained dark secrets isolated from civilization. To fit in with these suspenseful subjects, the film’s crew created a dark and spooky atmosphere throughout the castle grounds. Meanwhile, the movie’s music composer, Anton Garcia Abril, added a frightening soundtrack. These two factors contributed to the suspense of the motion picture. To make this not-so-classic film compelling to watch, first-time viewers should be advised to turn off the lights. The ghastly soundtrack should get them into a certain type of emotion as they see how Werewolf Daninsky and Countess Wandessa commit terror around the castle.
Shepard portrayed the beautiful Countess Wandessa with a mysterious mood and joyful tone to slowly terrorize or manipulate her victims. Naschy’s werewolf developed a serious tone and angry mood as he killed his own victims without hesitation. Fuchs played Elvira with an anxious tone and resourceful mood to remove herself out of danger.
Leon Klimovsky directed this 82-minute horror film, which was initially released in Spain (originally called "La noche de Walpurgis") in 1971. The following year, the foreign movie began to be shown in American theaters. One of the film’s notable actors, Naschy, was famous for portraying different monsters in various horror films. Interestingly, he played the same werewolf character of Daninsky in 12 different movies.
This vintage B-Movie received negative criticism due to its dark lighting that produced awful photography. The picture quality in some scenes was almost difficult for audiences to see the locations and characters’ faces. In 2014, the full movie was shown on Dailymotion, which featured a clearer quality. The dark and vintage photography of the original version is still preferable because it fits well into the film’s atmosphere and soundtrack. It is also suitable for Ms. Shepard’s vampire to come out of the darkness to spook her victims.
"The Werewolf vs The Vampire Woman" may not be a well-regarded film, but it is not as dull as critics thought. It was neither the best, nor worst movie of its time. Anyone with a keen interest in vintage horror films featuring fearful soundtracks should see this movie.