In a career that stretched from the early 1960s until his death in 2009, Naschy appeared in almost 100 feature films of all varieties. But his heart always lay in horror — especially his 12-movie series centered on the tragic lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky. In America, his low-budget films were often butchered by severe cutting and burdened with atrocious dubbing as low-rent distributors sold them off to the drive-in circuit and for television syndication.
This weekend, two of Naschy’s classics receive the respect they deserve with the two-night “Naschy Fest” at the Cult Fiction Underground theater at Logue’s Black Raven Emporium. Hosted by local film writer Rod Barnett and Nashville musician Troy Guinn — the fiends behind the monthly “NaschyCast” podcast — the event will present two screenings each of Night of the Werewolf (1968) on Friday night and Horror Rises from the Tomb (1972) on Saturday.
For Guinn, discovering Naschy’s twisted brand of Iberian horror came at an early age and left a deep impression. “In the late Seventies, when Channel 17 first went on the air in Nashville,” Guinn says, “they were showing [Spanish] horror movies that were very different from the Universal, Hammer and AIP films I had seen. The atmosphere had a cold, creepy weird quality to it.”
Naschy’s films spanned the gap between the classic monster films and a new world of graphic horror that sprang up in the wake of films like Night of the Living Dead and The Exorcist. “There was a mix of gore and eroticism with classic gothic trappings of castles and fog,” Guinn says. “But the approach was so skewed you couldn’t predict where the plot was taking you based on your own cultural assumptions.”
“[In European horror films] they seemed to pick and choose which Hollywood rules they would follow and which ones they would toss out the door,” Barnett says. The same applied to Naschy’s films, but with one important difference from his contemporaries like Dario Argento or Lucio Fulci.
“Naschy was very clearly making monster movies,” Barnett says, “not horror movies — the unfortunate creature that because of forces outside of himself had to become a monster or is perceived as a monster. That dichotomy is almost always central to what drives the plot, this tragic figure at the center of it.”
Barnett and Guinn will be introducing the films this weekend and will conduct a Q&A session afterwards. As Barnett says, “They really were made with a lot of heart. Regardless of the budgetary restraints and technical flaws, you never feel like Naschy’s movies were made by someone that didn’t care. If you like monsters and you have affection for movies that are not mainstream you’ll find something in almost any one of his films that will draw you in.”
Horror Rises from the Tomb screens at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Friday, Jan. 25 and Night of the Werewolf screens at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday at Logue’s Black Raven Emporium, 2913 Gallatin Rd.