• The Howl Of The Devil (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: June 8th, 2021.
    Director: Paul Naschy
    Cast: Paul Naschy, Howard Vernon, Caroline Munro, Fernando Hilbeck, Mabel Ordóñez, Sergio Molina
    Year: 1988
    Purchase From Mondo Macabro

    The Howl Of The Devil – Movie Review:

    Directed by, starring and co-written by Paul Naschy (or, if you prefer, Jacinto Molina), 1988’s The Howl Of The Devil is an obvious love letter from Naschy to the classic Universal horror movies of the decades prior that were clearly such a massive influence on his own work.

    The story introduces us to Hector Doriani (Naschy), an actor struggling to keep his career afloat after the death of his twin brother, Alex, who made it big as a star in many popular horror films. Since his brother’s passing, Hector has been taking care of his orphaned nephew, Adrian (played by Naschy’s son, Sergio Molina) and taken up residence in his late brother’s remote country estate. Adrian is, quite understandably, upset about the loss of his father and to help keep his spirits up, he often imagines being visited by his dad’s ghost, each visit seeing the spectral version of Alex dressed up as a classic horror movie character.

    However, Hector isn’t exactly what he first seems to be. He’s coerced Alex’s former butler, Eric (Jess Franco regular Howard Vernon), to go out and acquire for him a sufficient number of foxy ladies to indulge his interest in kinky sex shenanigans! Unfortunately for pretty much all of the women who take his offers of cash in exchange for some very adult playtime, there’s a masked killer about with a penchant for slashing pretty necks. And if that weren’t enough, Alex’s one time maid, Carmen (Caroline Munro), once had a fling with the local priest, the same priest who has now decided, years later, that she shall be his once more.

    One of Naschy’s later directorial efforts, Howl Of The Devil is pretty entertaining stuff and a genuinely weird mix of classic horror tropes and stronger scenes of pretty exploitative sex and nudity! Tonally this one is all over the place, but somehow Naschy makes it all work, the end result being as entertaining as it is frequently delirious. Sure, the acting can be uneven at times and, yes, the film’s low budget isn’t so much a bug as it is a feature, but Naschy’s love of genre is obvious in every frame of this picture.

    Those not enamored with the man’s rather unique style of acting won’t be won over by his performance here but supporting work from genre icons like a scene stealing Howard Vernon and the always lovely Caroline Munro is plenty fun and easy to appreciate (even if the film suffers a bit from ‘Maniac syndrome’ in that we have trouble buying Munro being interested in Naschy much like we have trouble buying Munro being interested in Joe Spinell in Lustig’s film).

    If you don’t need to take all of your film watching too seriously, Howl Of The Devil, with its ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach, can wind up being a lot of fun. It’s paced well, the mansion location gives the film the right amount of creepy atmosphere and there are some creative, if not always one hundred percent effective, makeup jobs and gore effects to appreciate here. This isn’t Naschy’s best film but it was clearly a very personal one to him and his enthusiasm for the material definitely makes it easy to look past some of its flaws. Imperfect, yes, but perfectly enjoyable!

    The Howl Of The Devil – Blu-ray Review:

    The Howl Of The Devil arrives on region free Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro taken from a “brand new 4k transfer from film negative, digitally restored.” Presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen, the feature takes up 27GBs of space on the 50GB disc and looks really good. There are a few spots where the grain doesn’t resolve perfectly in some of the darker indoor scenes but otherwise, this transfer shows nice detail (when there isn’t too much fog!) and excellent color reproduction. Skin tones look good and there’s strong texture here as well.

    The audio is handled by a 16-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track, in Spanish, with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is very strong here, the dialogue comes through nice and clean and there are no issues with any hiss or distortion. There’s pretty nice depth to the track as well, and the score sounds really strong.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary from the two men behind The Naschycast podcast, they being Troy Guinn and Rod Barnett. It’s a good track that covers a lot of ground in an amiable style. They spend a good bit of time going over the obvious nods to the Universal Monsters’ legacy that so clearly influenced Naschy’s vision for this film but they also go over details of the cast and crew, locations, the score, Naschy’s acting and directing style in the film and lots more.

    The disc also includes an interview with actor Sergio Molina entitled Adrien Speaks! This piece runs thirty-six-minutes and interviews Naschy’s son about his role in the film, how his father’s filmmaking career evolved over time, what it was like working on this picture, the social and political climate in Spain when this film was made and quite a few other topics related to his father’s work on this picture.

    The disc also includes a twenty-seven-minute featurette that serves as a behind-the-scenes piece shot during the production of the film but which also features some interview clips with Naschy himself as well as a few of the cast members. There's some great footage in here, showing off some of the makeup, what it was like on set, the crew hard at work, Ms. Munro vamping it up for the camera and lots more. It's tape sourced and not in the best of shape but it's great to see it included here.

    Rounding out the extras is the Mondo Macabro preview reel, menus and chapter selection.

    The Howl Of The Devil - The Final Word:

    Howl Of The Devil might wear its modest budget on its sleeve but Naschy’s love for the horror icons that influenced his own work is infectious and the movie is a lot of fun. There are some solid effects set pieces, a decent amount of exploitative sleaze and some fun performances from Naschy, Vernon and Munro. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray looks very nice and offers some strong supplements as well. Recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized The Howl Of The Devil Blu-ray screen caps!