Sunday, June 08, 2014

Honourable Mention: the Beast and the Magic Sword

It feels sometimes that I will forever be finding "just one more" Paul Naschy film to feature on TMtV. The truth is, of course, that it can’t be... but, for now, turning over the cinematographic rocks and finding these euro-horror films amounts to little bubbles of joy in my life (even if the films aren’t that great sometimes).

The Beast and the magic Sword was a Japanese/Spanish co-production from 1983 and was written and directed by Naschy. In truth, though it was the V word that brought it to my attention, it nearly didn’t qualify for even an honourable mention. Vampires are literally mentioned in passing and their mention is at the head of the film.

Paul Naschy as Irineus Daninsky
The king Otton the Great (Gérard Tichy) is in a quandary. He has defeated the Hungarians and captured their leader Bhulcho. However, despite the fact that they died like any other men, the people believe that Hungarians are “Devils – insatiable vampires who seek out victims to steal away their blood and souls.” They are thought to bring plague and ruined harvests. Indeed if Bhulcho is executed, rather than die in single combat, it is believed he will return from the dead, as will all the Hungarian soldiers who have been killed. To solve this thorny problem, Otton invites the Polish knight Irineus Daninsky (Paul Naschy) to challenge the Magyar to single combat.

defeating Bhulcho 
The fight happens and Daninsky wins. To make absolutely sure, Otton orders the Magyar’s heart to be pierced by a silver cross and his remains burned. However Bhulcho’s mistress is a witch and curses Daninsky’s pregnant wife so that all their descendants will become beasts if born the seventh son on the full moon (and it did strike me that such curses are a bit too specific to be overly effective). Thus it takes six hundred years for one of the line, Waldermer (again, Paul Naschy), to become so cursed. He goes to a wise man for help but when the inquisition’s thugs kill said sage as a heretic, Waldemar is forced to seek help from a Japanese wise man called Kian (Shigeru Amachi, Onna kyûketsuki).

So it is a werewolf in feudal Japan and vampires are never mentioned again. I did learn, however, that if a woman is pierced in the breast by a shuriken she will immediately die and we do get a fight between a wolfman and a tiger – filmed using real tigers. The imdb page is here.

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