I thought the best way to finish our month of Halloween Monster movies was to gather all the most popular monsters into one movie. And here they are! The Werewolf, a Vampire, Frankenstein’s Monster, and the Mummy are all on the attack in the 1970 Spanish – German – Italian horror film titled Los Monstruos del Terror aka The Monsters of Terror (there was even supposed to be a Golem but they ran out of money). Our film is also known as Assignment Terror, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Reincarnator, and, even by the original shooting title of The Man Who Came From Ummo.
The Monsters of Terror, released theatrically in Germany in 1970, in Spain in 1971, and shown on American late night television starting in 1973, stars English born movie star Michael Rennie (best remembered as the peaceful alien Klaatu from the 1951 SF classic movie The Day the Earth Stood Still) as Doctor Warnoff, an alien from a dying world who is leading an invasion of planet Earth. Warnoff, on orders from his superiors back on planet Ummo, reincarnates various people and monsters to help in his invasion. The story is quite a bit muddy on exactly what Warnoff’s “reincarnation” comprises. His first two victims are dead human doctors, Maleva (German actress Karin Dor) and Kerian (Spanish actor Angel de Pozo). In the case of these two, the human is dead, the body reanimated with the minds, apparently, of aliens but memories and emotions of the humans. But Warnoff (Micheal Rennie) also captures several other humans and it is unclear if they are alive and brainwashed or dead and reanimated.
Warnoff and his minions then set about gathering Earth’s most feared monsters. They find the skeleton of the Vampire Count Janos de Mialhoff at a carnival. They remove the wooden stake and the Vampire fleshes out. Next up is the Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. The minions recover his body from his crypt, surgically remove a silver bullet from his heart and he wakes up. The minions then go to Egypt to find the Mummy Tao-Tet whom they uncover and control with a mystical mirror. Their final monster is Farancksalan’s (aka Frankenstein’s) Monster. There was also supposed to be a Golem as well as “whole segments of the script involving flying saucers” but “financial difficulties” interrupted filming and forced them to par down the film.
Spanish actor / screenwriter / director Paul Naschy (listed in the film credits as “Naschi”) wrote the screenplay for The Monsters of Terror. He also plays the Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky in the film. Paul Naschy is recognized as “the Spanish Lon Chaney” for “his portrayals of numerous classic horror figures”. In fact, Paul has played more movie monsters than any other horror star in the world. Among his creations are: Dracula, the Mummy, the Frankenstein Monster, Fu Manchu, the Hunchback, Rasputin, a Warlock, a Zombie, a Medieval Inquisitor, a serial killer, and several Werewolves.
In fact, Werewolves were Paul Naschy’s favorite childhood monster and he has played a Werewolf in 15 different films. Legendary film star Lon Chaney, Jr. only played a Werewolf seven different times. In 1968, Paul wrote a screenplay about a Polish Werewolf named Waldemar Daninsky (La Marca del Hombre Lobo aka The Mark of the Wolfman). Paul never intended to portray his Werewolf but his producers could not find an actor they liked so they turned to Paul to play the part. Paul was able to take this role and spin off 11 film sequels as well as a successful acting / directing career for himself.
|Paul Naschy’s various movie creations|
Paul Naschy’s Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky movies are not really a related series. Each of the movies is more or less a stand alone film (there is some overlap on a few of the films). But all use the same name of Waldemar Daninsky. The origins of Waldemar’s lycanthropy even differs from film to film. Los Monstruos del Terror aka The Monsters of Terror was, chronologically, the third Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky film. Besides the 12 Waldemar films, Paul Naschy also played a different Werewolf in 3 other films.
The Internet Archive has two versions of our film The Monsters of Terror aka Assignment Terror aka Dracula vs. Frankenstein. The most popular version is full screen. The other version is widescreen. The full screen version is missing about six minutes, most of which involve an aborted Werewolf attack on a girl waiting in a car (character Ilsa played by actress Patty Sheppard, soon to be love interest for our determined Inspector Tobermann, played by Craig Hill) and a successful attack on another girl and also some scenes of swinging 60’s singles in a bar. These missing scenes belong about 20 minutes into the film. Both versions of the film have pros and cons. I watched the full screen version because the huge black borders for the widescreen version drove me batty. But the widescreen version appears to have better and brighter color and also does not look as dark as the full screen. Also the full screen version is very jumpy and abrupt in places throughout the movie. I did not watch the widescreen version all the way through so I am not sure if it is also as jumpy. It was not, in the places that I did watch.
The sound is pretty decent if glaringly 1960’s in music style. The full screen version did jump a bit during our hero, Inspector Tobermann’s, final speech but it is easy enough to understand what he is saying (Warning! Spoilers! Here is Inspector Tobermann’s final speech, “While there are men willing to sacrifice themselves for others nothing will destroy us.”). There is also a lot of 1960’s style sexism going on in the dialogue. Warnoff, particularly, really likes his eye candy minions when he says, “Beautiful women are like powerful magnets. We shall use them to attract scientists, generals, statesmen, their vital secrets.” And later, Warnoff gets his jollies as he admires his pretty minions, “The first of a group of beautiful women who will blindly obey my orders.” Despite the horrific goings on, the movie does manage to get a few bits of humor in like when the Superintendent gives Inspector Tobermann his orders, “As you can see, Henry, I’m completely snowed under with paperwork. Why don’t you see what you can dig up for me.” “Right, sir!” replies Tobermann. The Superintendent cautions, “But don’t bring any vampires into this office!” “Why not?” “I’m anemic already,” snaps the Superintendent.
I liked the appearance and character of some of the monsters but others not so much. The Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky (actor Paul Naschy) has a good classic Werewolf look. His human version doesn’t say much but manages to emote the usual remorse and horror. But his romance with the blond haired female minion is ridiculous. They’ve known each other five minutes but suddenly her love is strong enough to free him? Not believing it. But I was believing that he was ready to fight the other monsters to help save the world.
Vampire Count Janus de Mialhoff (actor Manuel de Blas) was a big disappointment. Vampires are my personal favorite monsters. But not this one. His look is just plain stupid. Apparently his fangs are permanently in attack mode so he is completely unable to close his mouth. He looks like a catfish trying to suck up any stray blood floating in the air. His character is also weak. He has no problem hypnotizing sleeping girls but wave a wooden stake in his direction and he immediately backs off. There is no sign of superhuman strength or speed so he is a big wimp.
Farancksalan’s (Frankenstein’s) Monster (actor Ferdinando Murolo) is another wuss. The makeup makes his forehead look like it is sliding down onto his eyes. And his eyes always look like they are closed, which might explain why he slowly shambles about – he is actually afraid of running into a wall. The Monster is also another featherweight in the character department. He does not have much to do at all except squint around. His climatic fight with the Werewolf is pretty anticlimactic and he simply does not do well around electricity.
Tao-Tet the Mummy (actor Gene Reyes) is a mixed bag. At first I was put off by the fact that his face is uncovered. But I actually grew to like that look. It was different but kind of cool. But his movements were stiff as a board. Literally. When the poor Mummy waved his arms about he looked like he could not bend his elbows at all. I think they wrapped him up too tight in the bandages. He was also, like the Vampire, a very wimpy character. Wave a torch in his direction and he immediately backs off. When he does fight, his stiffness makes him unable to do much of anything but windmill around until he falls over. No strength because he can’t grab anything. Just a big disappointment.
Poor Michael Rennie, as the alien Warnoff, does not have a plan with much chance of success. His off-planet masters are not very helpful (and their psychedelic look on the view screens was rather silly) and his human-ish minions keep getting sidelined by human emotions. At least the girl minions were not completely brainless. Sure, they are eye candy and Warnoff makes it plain that that is their main function, but the girls actually have stuff to do. Doctor Maleva confers with Warnoff, helps during operations, almost gets hypnotized and ravished, falls in love, and repeatedly does little rebellious acts against Warnoff. The blond girl minion (name unknown) is first a carnival worker than a minion. She falls for the Werewolf and gets punished. She escapes but comes back with a gun for the finale. On the other hand, the Inspector’s love interest, Ilsa, doesn’t have much to do but flirt and look pretty and be scared. No, none of these bits of pretty cheesecake can even begin to compare to the Black Widow (actress Scarlett Johansson) when it comes to kicking butt, but they are not completely blank mannequins either. Of course, the very best thing about our Halloween Monster movie, The Monsters of Terror aka Assignment Terror, is that it is FREE in the Public Domain at the Internet Archive.
The Internet Archive has two versions of The Monsters of Terror aka Assignment Terror available. Version #1 is the most popular and is also the full screen version. Version #2 is the widescreen version. *One word of caution: Movie fans who are interested enough to look up other movies by actor Paul Naschy should be careful. While I have not watched other Naschy movies, I have read enough descriptions, looked at enough posters, and seen enough photos to suspect that some of his movies are graphic both sexually and violently. Younger movie fans should be ware*