• Die Vampires Des Dr. Dracula (Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror)



    Released by: Subkultur Entertainment
    Released on: February 11th, 2015.
    Director: Enrique L. Equiluz
    Cast: Paul Naschy, Dianik Zurakowska, Rosanna Yanni, Manuel Manzaneque, Julian Ugarte
    Year: 1968
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    Released in North America by Sam Sherman as Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (which is a great title that really doesn’t have much to do with the movie at all!), 1968’s La marca del Hombre Lobo/Mark Of The Wolfman (or Die Vampires Des Dr. Dracula in German) is an enjoyable monster mash featuring Paul Naschy as his iconic wolfman, Waldemar Daninsky.

    Written by Naschy (a.k.a. Jacinto Molina), the story begins with some nicely shot footage of a fancy costume ball. While that’s going on, a gypsy couple, Nascha (Rossana Yanni) and Gyogyo (Gualberto Galban), is travelling by wagon only to be run off the road! Daninsky happens upon them and decides to help them get their wagon out of the mud and to let them spend the night at a huge old estate nearby. That night, the gypsies decide to do a little grave robbing and after unsealing the tomb of Imre Wolfstein. Bad move – this resurrects the ancient Wolfstein family curse and the gypsies are killed by a werewolf.

    Daninsky figures out what happened here and he sets out to make things right. He’s able to hunt and then kill the werewolf but not before he himself is bitten, which of course passes the curse on to him. Before long, the scar on Daninsky’s body from the attack takes on the mark of the beast and not wanting to spend the rest of his life as a werewolf, he decides to look for help, starting with his friend Rudolph (Manuel Manzaneque) and the beautiful Countess Janice von Aarenberg (Dyanik Zurakowska), who can’t seem to fight her feelings for Daninsky. When our hero stumbles upon some correspondence from decades past, he learns that the one who bit him was in contact with a doctor, Janos Mikhelov (Julian Ugarte) that he felt could help him. Daninsky writes the doctor for help, unaware that he and his female assistant, Wandessa Mikhelov (Aurora de Alba), are actually vampires.

    This one takes a little while to get going (we don’t see a werewolf until well over twenty minutes into the movie) but once it hits its stride, this landmark in Spanish horror cinema proves more than worthwhile. There’s some good atmosphere here, even in the slower opening half, with the shadowy interiors of the old estate and its underground burial chamber adding some creepy vibes to the picture. The film also makes great use of color, with pretty much every one of the characters in the film sporting some interesting and bright, late sixties style clothing.

    As to the performances, things shape up quite well. Rossana Yanni, Dyanik Zurakowska and Aurora de Alba are all quite fetching, with the latter vamping it up quite nicely in her villainous role. Julian Ugarte is fun to watch as the vampiric ‘doctor’ supposedly out to help Daninsky, it’s a kick to see him strutting about in the last half hour of the film, flashing his cape and baring his fangs. The real star of the show, however, is Naschy. He’s quite obviously very committed to this role and he gives it his all. His delivery is fine but it’s really the physical side of his work here that impresses. When he first turns into the werewolf, he really does seem pained and tortured by the experience and once transformed, brings a very feral approach to the character that works perfectly. On top of that, the makeup used to turn him from Daninsky into the werewolf is also very strong.

    Note that this is the Spanish version of the feature, so the animated intro that was added to Sam Sherman’s release is not included.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Die Vampires Des Dr. Dracula arrives on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen with a solid bit rate. Colors look great here – the reds look quite splashy and bold without coming across as artificially while skin tones look nice and natural. The image appears free of any artificial sharpening, edge enhancement or noise reduction so a fair bit of film grain is present, just as it should be. Minor white specs and the odd scratch will show up from time to time but for the most part the picture remains quite clean and clear throughout and it’s quite a serious upgrade from the domestic DVD release that came out through Media Blasters a few years ago. Black levels are quite nice and there aren’t any problems with crush or compression artifacts. This is a nicely detailed and very film-like transfer, the movie looks very good here.

    Audio options are provided in German and in Spanish PCM Mono with optional subtitles provided in German and English. The Spanish track is clean and clear and properly balanced, the film’s unusual score sounds quite good here and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion. The English subs are easy to read and free of any obvious typos. Sadly the English audio, which differs from the Spanish track in places, hasn’t been included here.

    Extras include two German language trailers, a U.S. trailer and a US TV spot, just over four minutes of international title sequences, a hefty still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Additionally, the Blu-ray disc comes housed inside a DVD sized keepcase that also contains a DVD version of the movie and a full color insert booklet (unfortunately all in German). This in turn fits inside a slick looking cardboard slipcover. Nice packaging on this release!

    The Final Word:

    Die Vampires Des Dr. Dracula holds up quite well more than forty years since it was first made. Completists will want to hold onto the US Frankenstein's Blood Terror DVD (for the extras) but the presentation here blows that one out of the water. The feature really benefits from the quality of the transfer and Naschy himself is really strong here.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!