Who can resist a Countess Bathory movie? I can't! Oh, wait. There was Stay Alive, which rather sullied the sterling rep of the rapacious bloodsucker. But Night of the Werewolf (aka, The Craving) came out in the early 1980s, long before all that CGI nonsense. It's a lupiney low-budget gem from writer/director/star Jacinto Molina (aka, Paul Naschy), and it has a real vintage, Hammery 70s look and feel. Which is a good thing. Not a computer game or a backwards ballcap in sight.
The story begins in the olden times of the Countess Elisabeth Bathory's (Silvia Aguilar) gory reign and her subsequent burning at the stake. Some of her flunkies are also condemned to death, one of them being our hero, werewolf-man Waldemar Daninsky (Molina), who gets an iron mask to the puss and a silver cross thrust through his heart for his devotion to the dark arts. But of course, that's not the end of Daninsky.
Flash forward a few centuries, and focus on a trio of bouncy coeds with cute names like Erica, Karen, and Barbara (this is the pre-Brooke / pre-Brittany days, remember) who've traveled to Hungary to resurrect the Countess and her furry pet-guy. Actually, only one of them is in on this plan… it is Erica, and she's going to sacrifice her friends in order to bring back the dead baddies. (As it turns out a couple of graverobbers beat her to the bod of Daninsky, he becomes her hero, and they fall in love.)
Speaking of bad, Night of the Werewolf is pretty bad — in a good way. It's poorly acted, dimly lit, and ineptly directed, but all in the best possible ways. It's got an odd, atmospheric cheesy charm to it. The movie was filmed in a real castle in Spain, the costumes and props are good, and the werewolf is — to use a couple of its contemporary cinematic littermate as examples — more Teen Wolf (1985) than An American Werewolf in London (1981).
The DVD is presented uncut, beautifully restored for picture-perfection, and even includes a small booklet outlining the history and background of the film and, of course, Naschy.
= = =Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson