Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Los monstruos del terror (1970)

... aka: Assignment Terror
... aka: Dracula Versus Frankenstein
... aka: Dracula vs. Frankenstein
... aka: Man Who Came from Ummo, The
... aka: Monster Panic: Strange Tactics
... aka: Monsters of Terror, The
... aka: Operation Terror
... aka: Reincarnator

Directed by:
Tulio Demicheli

Surgeon Dr. Kerian Danner (Ángel del Pozo), killed during wartime action, and biochemist Dr. Maleva Kerstein (Karin Dor), killed during an automobile accident, both become revived by aliens who take over their bodies (and attain their medical / scientific knowledge in the process). They join forces with another alien - leader Dr. Odo Warnoff (Michael Rennie) - in an attempt to eliminate all of us pesky, weak humans from this planet. They need to conquer Earth because their home planet, Umu, is freezing and they still haven't found a way to create an artificial sun. The three aliens decide that the best way to go about this is to find a way to have attractive girls blindly do their bidding. Because "beautiful women are like magnets," they plan on using them to extract secrets from scientists, politicians and other important people. Their plan starts to come together as they kidnap numerous young women and then brainwash them into servitude by hooking them up to some contraption that looks like an electric chair.

The aliens go to a carnival, where they kidnap beautiful sideshow assistant Ilona (Ella Gessler) and kill a hypnotist. In doing so, they remove a stake from the heart of Transylvanian vampire Janos de Mailhoff (Manuel de Blas); resurrecting him. This occurrence gives the aliens a brand new idea. Why not revive and then clone all famous monsters and then unleash them by the thousands upon Earth? They start by culturing themselves on all things creature by reading "Anthology of the Monsters." After a trip to Waldemar Daninsky's (Paul "Naschi" / Naschy) tomb to steal his corpse, they resurrect the legendary werewolf by surgically removing the silver bullet from his heart and then chain him up in the cellar of their castle headquarters. Waldemar manages to break his chains and then hits the town. He attacks college student Ilsa Sternberg (Patty Shepard), but she manages to get away, so he settles for a hooker named Tootie (!) instead. The aliens manage to recapture Waldemar before he can do any more damage, then it's off to Egypt to get Tao-Tet (Gene Reyes), a mummy, and elsewhere to get a block-headed Frankenstein monster (Ferdinando Murolo).

Things don't go exactly as Dr. Warnoff had hoped because he can't stop his accomplices from being susceptible to human feelings and passions. Maleva keeps demonstrating empathy for prisoners who are punished and, when Warnoff catches her in bed with Kerian, he sends in the Frankenstein monster to strangle Kerian to death. Ilona finds herself drawn to Waldemar, so she eventually frees him and the two run off together. Dr. Warnoff watches everything on magical monitors, which seem to be able to see things anywhere in the world. As bodies start to pile up and people keep disappearing, chief Inspector Henry Tobermann (Craig Hill) discovers that's he got one hell of a weird case to crack. The inspector becomes romantically involved with Ilsa, whose judge father is somehow linked to Waldemar, and both find themselves kidnapped by the aliens. Tobermann is chained up in the cellar and threatened with rabid bats who try to eat out his eyeballs, while Ilsa is laid out for vampire prey.

Naschy (who wrote this using his real name Jacinto Molina Alvarez) was a huge fan of the Universal monster movies and it shows. This seems to want to be the (then) modern day equivalent of something like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) or House of Dracula (1945). It's atypical in the Waldemar werewolf series because Naschy has a sixth-billed supporting role, but you can still tell he wrote it because a hot blonde immediately falls in love with his short, dumpy self and he gets to be the hero at the very end and do battle with the other monsters. The screenplay also happens to one of the film's weakest points. Though the premise is fun, everything's so hopelessly convoluted that it's often difficult to follow. Very poor continuity doesn't help matters, and neither does the terrible English-language dubbing on the version I watched. There's a restored German DVD of this one and I'm not sure if it makes any more sense. The one I watched (which has French credits) runs 83 minutes.

On the plus side, this is genuinely weird, there are some fun moments to be had here and there, the makeups are pretty good for the time and the cast is full of familiar faces. Rennie, best remembered for his performance in the classic sci-fi The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) passed away a year after this was released and it turned out to be his final film. Dor, Shepard and Gessler are all nice to look at, though the version I watched seemed to jump away any time there should be some nudity (which may be available in the uncut version). During the scene where a silver bullet is removed from the werewolf, gory footage of a real open heart surgery has been spliced in.

Though the credits list only Demicheli as director, IMDb claims that Hugo Fregonese (who'd previously made 1953's Man in the Attic starring Jack Palance) and Eberhard Meichsner as uncredited co-directors.


1 comment:

CavedogRob said...

I remember seeing this on late night TV in the '80's and not being able to make much sense of it except I liked the all out monster party kind of thing and Naschy's werewolf!

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