Just been chatting to the infamous Mr. Stu, the man behind to sinister synth combo' Agents of Evolution about classic werewolf movies.
Obviously An American Werewolf In London, The Howling and The Beast Must Die! came up meaning that all this talk about hairy scares made me want to go back and revisit one of my personal faves.
So ladies and gentlemen let me present probably THE best werewolf movie ever made featuring not only the wonderful Dagmar Lassander but a star turn from that blonde woman who you might remember from bit parts in Truck Turner and Blood Orgy of The She Devils.
La Lupa Mannara (AKA Daughter of a Werewolf, Naked Werewolf Woman, She-Wolf , Werewolf Woman, 1976).
Dir: Rino Di Silvestro.
Cast: Annik Borel, Howard Ross, Dagmar Lassander, Tino Carraro and lots of other folk that I can't be arsed listing, except for the amusingly monikered Felicita Fanny for obvious reasons.
The place: a cow-pat covered field somewhere in Europe.
The time: Ye olden days - probably the early 70s by the state of the bush on show.
And I don't just mean the overgrow fauna circling the flaming pentagram that's been hastily drawn on the damp, muddy grass.
Obviously if you're a regular reader of this fine blog you'll know I'm making a childish reference to lady gardens.
In particular the one belonging to the top-lining (and topless) Annik Borel, who's currently dancing about in the all together and jiggling her lady parts like her life (or at very least her next mortgage payment) is counting on it.
But she is not alone.
Watching from the woods is a bunch of evermore nervous of tinker types armed with flaming torches and pitchforks gazing in a mix of awe, terror and mild apathy as our buxom babe slowly transforms from a totally naked blonde 70s sexbomb into a blonde 70s sexbomb who appears to be wearing bits of carpet stuck to her body.
And black olives on her nipples.
The group surge forward, their weapons held tightly as Borel attempts to growl menacingly at the moon whilst dribbling thru' a set of comedy pound shop dentures.
In case you hadn't guessed this is indeed the naked werewolf woman of the title.
And unfortunately the only time we get to see her in all her hirsute glory, which by the state of the make-up isn't such a bad thing if I'm honest.
Obviously not wanting us to get too excited at the thought of a hairy woman eating a group of tramps (or spend any more money than he can get away with) we abruptly jump forward 200 years (as in the movie does, it's not like some bizarre interactive Back To The Future style interactive performance piece) to find a very sweaty (but thankfully clothed) Borel (as the very rich but oh so slightly mad Daniela Neseri) suddenly jump up in bed with a squeak.
You see, the poor girl suffers from a recurring nightmare caused by the fact that she believes she's the reincarnation of her ancestor who was burned at the stake for being a werewolf.
Which sounds a pretty legit if not really badly constructed bit of background story.
Not all of her family agree tho' especially her dad Count Tony Neseri (Carraro from Argento's The Cat o' Nine Tails) and sister Elena (Raven-haired Giallo goddess Lassander, obviously she had a new swimming pool to pay for) who think that the whole mentalist thing could be caused by her memories of being diddled by a dustbin man as a child.
Being a wee bit stubborn Daniela refuses their offers of help preferring to 'self-medicate' her violent desires by hiding in a wardrobe and fiddling with herself whilst watching her sister and hubbie having 'the sex'.
Tho' lets be honest, do you really need a reason (medical or other) to want to watch Dagmar Lassander getting naked?
Being the cuddly and caring types her family are all very supportive, occasionally nodding in a concerned manner whilst muttering that everything will be OK whilst scrubbing the stains off the woodchip wallpaper.
And to be honest everything's actually fine, until that is Daniela decides to lure her brother-in-law into the woods, start humping his leg then tear his throat out before tossing him off a cliff.
With the Jeremy Kyle show fully booked till Easter 2019, the family decide that it'd probably be for the best if they had Daniela committed to the local hospital, where seeing as she spends her days stripped naked and strapped to a bed, I'm assuming isn't BUPA affiliated.
It's not all nude bondage and bed-baths tho' as Daniela often passes the time shouting "whore" at her still mourning sister and hiding scissors under her pillow in case the mad lesbian patient from two doors up tries to sneak into her room for cuddles.
Sounds a brilliant place for a break if I'm honest.
|I don't know what that is in her mooth but it's definitely not shite.|
Daniela obviously doesn't think so because after a week she decides that she's cured and proves this by plotting a totally non-mental escape plan that involves hiding in a doctor's car, waiting for him to leave the hospital then smashing his face repeatedly against the steering wheel before driving off into the countryside to start a new life.
Which is nice.
Unless you're that poor doctors wife and kids obviously.
It's at this point that the movie bizarrely turns into a sleazy version of the old Michael Landon TeeVee show Highway To Heaven, only this time featuring a mad woman coming across (quite literally in some cases) the damaged dregs of society and killing them in a rage of sweat, screams and howls rather than that guy from Little House On The Prairie helping club-footed kids and single mums with shingles.
Tho' I can't imagine that it would have run for 12 seasons had it followed Rino Di Silvestro's storyline can you?
But our writer/director has another twist for us because just when you think the whole film has descended into poorly made - albeit fairly unique - (moderately) hairy woman kills tramps flick our heroine bumps into a hunky stunt-man (Howard Ross AKA Renato Rossini) named Luca and everything changes again.
Except her underwear obviously which by this point I could actually smell thru' the screen.
|God may want you for a sunbeam but I just want to use your mouth as a toilet.|
Picking up a hitch-hiking Daniela in his patented stunt-mobile, lovely Luca wins her over with his sensitivity, charm and respect for women, hairy or not.
Oh and with his ability to fall off tall burning buildings whilst dressed as a chicken obviously.
Prepare for a romance montage like no other as we see our beautiful couple frolicking on the beach, running thru' parks and gazing into each others eyes intercut with scenes of our stuntman hero crashing thru' windows, getting bottles broken on his head and the like before setting up home together on the actual movie set.
Which I'm sure is against union rules.
|Somewhere to park your bike (and reuse old captions obviously).|
Our lovers soon realize tho' that a fake western town isn't the best place to raise a family so Luca pops down on one knee and asks Daniela if she would mind if he took her up the village.
To live that is.
She smiles (which frankly is much more terrifying without her false choppers in) and cries "Yes!" before falling into Luca's massively muscled arms for another wee bout of the love-making.
You see it appears that it only takes the love of a rugged, sensitive stunt-man to cure any woman of her latent lycanthropy.
Which kind of explains where I've been going wrong the last few years.
At long last it looks like things could finally work out quite nicely for Daniela but you forget that this is a cheaply made Italian exploitation movie (albeit one with delusions of high art) so it wont come as too much of a surprise when I tell you that one day, whilst Luca is out buying a pint of milk and various Veet hair removal products from Superdrug a gang of very bad lads turn up at the studios looking for cheap booze and evil sex.
Will the Luca return in time or will Daniela - after getting roughly bummed by the bad men - become a werewolf and hunt down her three attackers like a (hairier) Charles Bronson?
Or will true love prevail?
|Dagmar Lassander: Ask your granddad.|
Thank you Rino Di Silvestro (AKA Axel Berger, Cesar Todd, R.D. Silver and your 'Uncle' Pete) for not only giving us such classic calls for tolerance and love as Deported Women of the SS Special Section, Women in Cell Block 7 and The Erotic Dreams of Cleopatra but for following your dream and bringing this unique (yet oh so tedious) tale of love, sex, mental illness and furry nipples to the big screen.
A film that even after more than 30 years since my first viewing still holds a place in my heart as well as teaching me a valuable lesson in life.
When I was 12 years old I naively swapped a copy of the Video Network big box Betamax edition of Harry Novack's Axe for a dodgy VHS copy of La Lupa Mannara after being told that not only was it utterly terrifying but that it featured some top nude lady werewolf action as well as a scene where two girls stroked each others hair in a barn.
And I fell for it, hurriedly handing over Axe and excitedly running home, stopping only to buy crisps and Vimto ready for an evening of sheer terror.
And maybe, just maybe a glimpse of lady front bum, something at that point I'd only heard whispered about.
My friend Jamie had yet to obtain a copy of The Mad Foxes so the idea of men and women being different down below was pure hearsay.
But how was I managed to be duped so badly I hear you cry.
Well it's all down to the title the movie was released under in the UK.
You see over here it was called Naked Werewolf Woman.
Says it all really.
Bizarrely enough tho' the title change actually upset Di Silvestro more than the movies scathing (and in most cases hostile) reviews ever did seeing as he favoured the title The Lycanthrope, feeling that this was more in keeping with the movies serious arthouse aspirations.
So imagine my disappointment, dear reader when what I ended up with wasn't actually the greatest, sexiest and hairiest movie ever made but a naked werewolf flick that singularly failed to deliver much in the way of either nakedness or werewolfism.
Ok I'll admit that it has an abundance of everything else you can think of; discussions on reincarnation, pseudo-scientific psycho-bollocks regarding lycanthropy as a side effect of sexual molestation, horny 70s Italian guys, revenge, tragedy and of course a stuntman years before Colt Seavers made it cool.
But that wasn't the point.
I don't think my 12 year old self ever recovered.
Come to think of it I'm still quite upset now.
I hope you're happy Rino.