As pertaining to motion pictures, describes any film that exploits, in its marketing or promotion, the use of stereoscopic (3-dimensional) filmmaking techniques.

This blog is my notepad as I research a nonfiction book spotlighting 3-D genre films of the last century. While the book will focus primarily on films from the 60's, 70's and 80's this blog has no restrictions.

All articles on this blog are copyright 2010-13 of its author,
Jason Pichonsky, unless otherwise stated.

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The 3 Dimensional Mark of the Wolfman

Paul Naschy is Waldamar Daninsky.

In my previous posts I haven’t even touched the 3-D imagery of the La marca del Hombre lobo, and that’s really what this blog is all about.  So let’s get to it.

I’ve yet to run across anyone who can claim to have seen the film in 3-D, so we’ll have to use a bit of imagination to determine what the film looked like in the third dimension.Our first bit of information comes from the film’s American distributor, Sam Sherman.  During his audio commentary on the Shriek Show DVD of Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror Sherman recalled seeing La marca del Hombre Lobo in 3-d from its original 70mm print.  He describes it as a showcase for depth making little use of screen piercing effects.  Something today’s filmmakers seem to be striving for as if it were a new concept.  As one of the only North Americans to have seen this film in its original stereoscopic format, we’re forced to take his word for it.  Careful viewing of the film flat seems to support Mr. Sherman’s remembrances.

Despite Sherman’s observation that different takes may have been used in the 3-D version of the film, or even an extra camera shooting flat may have been used, I believe the 2-D version of the film to be a pretty good indication of the 3-D version’s camera set-ups and composition.  I come to that assessment by comparing the still I posted previously and the versions of the film I have seen.

La marca del Hombre lobo by all indications is a film stacked for the stereoscopic image. In its opening masquerade scene we are treated to balloons and confetti that float into the filmgoers laps.  While Janice and Rudolph, in full masquerade, waltz past the camera the couple turn their heads to peer at the audience, as if to poke the extremely long noses of their masks out into the theatre space.  It’s no accident that Janice’s mask is adorned with a beak for a nose.

Janice and Rudolph pause to address the 3-D viewing audience.

La marca del Hombre lobo makes use of its depth to pull you into its world, rather than thrust it out at you.
Janice's father the Count joins the villagers in the hunt for Imar Wolfstein.
These images can be viewed with anagylphic glasses, the red lens over the right eye.
In a scene I'll refer to as The Hunt for Imar Wolfstein, Daninsky and Rudolph are paired up hunting the original wolfman that would during this scene turn Daninsky into the same such creature.  It is set in a forest with uniformly spaced trees, and ample opportunity to provide depth with the occasional tree truck in the brushing through the foreground past the spectator.  The setting is similar to the fairytale forest featured in Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977).

The judge takes aim.
It’s here that I’ll pause to complement director Enrique López Eguiluz and cinematographer Emilio Foriscot. Director Enrique López Eguiluz had previously worked with Naschy on Agonizando en el crimen (1968) and Dyanik Zurakowska (Janice) on En Andalucía nació el amor (1966). He would follow up La marca del Hombre lobo with a Santo's film Santo contra los asesinos de la mafia (1970), one that I have still yet to see. Cinematographer Emilio Foriscot had shot another “mark” film that same year, Il marchio di Kriminal (1968) a follow-up to Umberto Lenzi’s master thief fummetti adaptation Kriminal (1966).

Eguiluz manages to mature the monster kid-styled story by playing up the romantic tensions between the characters.  Not just the love triangle between Waldemar, Janice and Rudolph, but also the additional seductions by the vampires.

A dynamic use of dimensional space by Eguiluz to represent the film's
 love triangle and Rudolph's increasing isolation from our heros.

Foriscot's lighting makes liberal use of coloured gels to create mood and atmosphere in the film.  It's visual aesthetic has a lot in common with films like Suspiria and Mario Bava's early colour work found in Black Sabbath (1963) and Kill Baby Kill (1966).

The real stars of the film, as far as its stereoscopic qualities are concerned, are the locations.

Janice and Waldamar in the monastary sanctuary.

The cavernous locations set in the interior castle and monastery are perfectly suited to a 3 dimensional film. Shot on location at San Martin de Valdeiglesias, provide a lybrithian tunnels and gothic edifices that not only work well in 3-D, but are utilized by Eguiluz and Foriscot to create equally rich atmosphere viewed flat—the way this film has been seen for decades.

Another example of a frame stacked for a 3-dimensional effect.
Unfortunately, I've never seen a print that looked like it could have come from an alternate eye view, and the film has never surfaced in 3-D in either Midnight Screenings, anaglyph TV prints or as private collectors grey market items.  It has also been rumoured that Sam Sherman's over-and-under prints have turned red with time and are unwatchable. The source material used for the Shriek Show DVD of Frankenstein's Bloody Terror definately shows the signs of its age. I can't confirm this however.  But Sherman does still have his 70mm print of La marca del Hombre Lobo and the Spanish company Vellavision recently released an absolutely gorgeous print of the film.  Perhaps the original Hi Fi Stereo 70 m/m negative is still out there.  We can only hope that the 3-D Blu-Ray push for home theatre content will unleash forgotten classics like La marca del Hombre Lobo in the next decade.

A dramatic death of the vampiress Wandessa at the hands of the Wolfman.

Just a note about the imagery in this post. The anaglyphs are conversions produced to give you a taste of what this film could have been like.  The images in the filmstrips are likewise doctored film frames used to represent what the originally 3-D film prints may have looked like.

Paul Naschy

La marca del Hombre lobo

An opportunity to see La marca del Hombre lobo (1968) in 3-D is something akin to finding the Holy Grail for me.   It's a film that through repeat viewings never fails to fascinate me with its imagery. It is a lushly shot film, blending elements from its two major influences; the gothic high contrast black and white cinematography of Universal’s 30’s and 40's monster fare with the colourful eroticism of Hammer’s 50’s and 60’s counter parts.  Yet the film also manages to weave its early cinematic roots into a modern story of good and evil --in this case a present day setting in 1968.

Unfolding like so many of its sister lycanthrope films the plot of La marca del Hombre lobo reworks many elements from the film that heavily inspired its screenplay; Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943).  Irme Wolfstein, a werewolf, is awaken by a pair of grave robbers, in this case a Gypsy couple when they remove the silver cross from his heart that has keep him dormant for almost 50 years. Free to hunt again, the beast kills the gypsies and a pair of local villagers,  Joining the hunt to find the creature film’s tragic hero, Waldermar Daninsky (Paul Naschy), is bitten by the man-wolf.  He immediately knows the implications of this beast’s bite; by the next full moon he too will become a wolf.  And like Lon Chaney Jr.’s Larry Talbot, Naschy’s Daninsky seeks outside help.  Rather than seeking out a member of the Frankenstein clan as Talbot had done, Daninsky he enlists the aid of Dr. Janos Mikhelov and his wife Wandessa. Not decedents of the doctor who had been treating Irme Wolfstein, they are in fact vampires, bent on controlling the beast Daninsky has become.

Gypsies release the first werewolf, Imre Wolfstein.

It’s a synopsis that that reads like a first-time screenplay written by a professional weightlifter in a month while living at his parents home and influenced by a matinee movie he had seen when he was eleven.  Which in fact aptly describes its screenwriter Paul Naschy at the time.  While the screenplay contains many leaps in logic (what can the vampires really gain by controlling the werewolf?), the film engages its audience, like so many euro-horror films do, by creating a fantastical dream world that is somewhere close to, but outside our own. The film also includes a bloody battle between werewolves and some gorgerous temptress women, significant pluses for the drive-in crowd of the seventies.  Yet within its his juvenile monster story, Naschy also manages to present a unique and complex love triangle, between Daninsky, his love interest Janice (Dyanik Zurakowska) and her childhood friend / potential fiancé, Rudolph (Manuel Manzaneque). Naschy’s screenplay introduces us unsympathetically to Daninsky.  He is presented as a playboy, flirting with Janice in front of Rudolph, and an outcast in the village who has returned only because he has squandered his inheritance. Janice falls for the playboy Daninsky, while Rudolph becomes indebted to him for saving his life from the werewolf Wolfstein during the hunt. Yet, from the moment he is bitten, Daninsky begins to evolve into the hero, a good man battling the beast inside him.  It is as if the dark side of Daninsky is channeled into his werewolf form, leaving his good characteristics to surface in his human form.
Janice (Dyanik Zurakowska) and Rudolph (Manuel Manzaneque) discuss the the fate of Daninsky 

While it’s Naschy’s ability to transform from gentleman beast to snarling hero that steals the show, credit needs to go to the film’s director, Enrique López Eguiluz, and cinematographer, Emilio Foriscot.  So in my next post it’s their contribution that I’d like to touch upon.