Curse of the Devil is a 1973 Spanish-Mexican supernatural horror film directed by Carlos Aured (The Mummy’s Revenge; The Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll; Horror Rises from the Tomb) from a screenplay by Jacinto Molina. The latter also stars using his stage name Paul Naschy. The film’s original release titles are El Retorno de Walpurgis (Spain) and La Noche del Asesino (Mexico).
By order of the great inquisitor Ireneus Daninsky, Countess Bathory is burned alive and her female followers hanged. Before perishing in the flames the countess puts a curse on Daninsky and his descendants.
Four centuries later, Waldemar Daninsky accidentally shoots a gypsy while hunting a wolf. The angry gypsies, who knew of the curse, summon up the Satan and the beautiful Ilona is chosen to seduce the young lord. During a night of love, Ilona bites Waldemar who turns into a werewolf killing his preys on full moon nights…
Reviews [may contain spoilers]:
“Why are we so far away from everyone throughout? Why do things that seem to be sex scenes start and then cut away? Why are most of the werewolf attacks put together in such a strange way? The film keeps taking us up to the edge of sex and violence and then, generally, it goes somewhere else, usually to shots of people walking around.” Dan Budnik, Bleeding Skull!
” …there’s a high body count, lots of werewolf action, some gore and some nudity […] Because of the period setting, art direction and costumes, and the lovely outdoor background scenery (bubbling brooks, waterfalls, moss-covered rocks, old stone bridges), the whole thing has this nice fairy tale feel to it.” Justin McKinney, The Bloody Pit of Horror
“Aured’s contribution to the werewolf saga is decidedly bloodier and sexier than usual, making it a preferable choice of Naschy fans. The atmosphere is lush and the production values look exceptional […] The quieter than usual werewolf has a darker appearance and sometimes looks like a cross between a wild bear and Barry Gibb of The Bee Gees, but aside from a few instances where Naschy’s pale neck is revealed, it’s still pretty effective.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In
” …Naschy seems to have been mainly concerned with crafting a romantic melodrama, and here and there – notably in a lushly scored waterfall interlude – he succeeds. But the film, exported as Curse of the Devil, is otherwise strangely inert.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic, Signum Books, 2016
“The ominous rural locations are a suitable boost to the hostile world, enveloping the characters in a mysterious bubble from which there’s no real escape […] Curse of the Devil is a surprisingly violent entry in the series considering when it was made, it features sizzling Euro women in various states of undress, Naschy’s doomed werewolf, an alien world, and a mob of angry villagers to boot…” The Grim Cellar
“It’s full of naked beauties and standard-issue 70’s bush, while old-school dissolves convey the various werewolf transformation scenes, including a moment in which Naschy turns into his Chaney Jr-inspired wolfman midway during a sex session with Olivares. It climaxes in a suitably lively, Universal-inspired fashion with a good old fashioned mob of angry villagers in pursuit of the monster.” Steven West, Horrorscreams Videovault
“…some truly stunning mise en scenes, really wonderful shots, such as when the gypsies are leaving Waldy’s castle: a low-angle shot of them coming across the drawbridge with the majestic ruined castle lit very eerily in the background. Also some of the nature scenes on Waldemar’s property as he courts his love are just gorgeous stuff.” Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies
“Perhaps less entertaining than the previous films, Curse of the Devil is a much better horror film with a dark feel throughout and quite creepy in places, some might find it scary. Often resembling a later Hammer Horror film (in a good way) this is a recommended film, certainly to Paul Naschy fans, however werewolf fans might find the relative lack of lycan action to be disappointing.” Timothy Young, Mondo Esoterica
“Naschy took famous characters, or concept, and injected them with some sleaze, gore and blood – but still stayed surprisingly old-fashioned. When Hammer started to wind down and lose their audience, Naschy and his friends took over some of those that wanted more action and the modern violence and still old-school horrors. Curse of the Devil is an excellent example of really good Spanish horror.” Fred Anderson, Ninja Dixon
“Daninsky is essentially a benevolent man trapped in a cyclical tragedy, while Naschy’s screenplay avoids scream queen clichés making Inga a strong-willed, rational heroine who fights for her man. However, the free-spirited sexuality of Werewolf Shadow is replaced with sexual hypocrisy, regarding how Maria is treated.” Andrew Pragasm, The Spinning Image
“While it gives the werewolf legend a more Catholic inflection, the movie is also bloodier, sexier and more atmospheric than Molina’s previous lycanthropy films (La Marca del Hombre Lobo, 1967, for example),” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
Main cast and characters:
- Paul Naschy … Waldemar Daninsky / Irineus Daninsky
- Fabiola Falcón … Kinga Wilowa
- Mariano Vidal Molina … Roulka
- Maritza Olivares … Maria Wilowa
- José Manuel Martín … Bela
- María Silva … Elizabeth Bathory
- Elsa Zabala … Gypsy Witch
- Eduardo Calvo … Laszlo Wilowa
- Ana Farra … Malitza
- Fernando Sánchez Polack … Maurice, Waldemar’s valet
- Inés Morales … Ilona
Madrid and Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain
The film was released in the United States in 1976 by Goldstone Film Enterprises. It was released on VHS as The Black Harvest of Countess Dracula and as Curse of the Devil.
The film was released on DVD in the USA by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2002 as Curse of the Devil. It was re-released in a special edition in 2008 by Deimos Entertainment, a subdivision of BCI Eclipse, under the same title.
Image credits: Wrong Side of the Art!