Director: Leon Klimovsky

Director: Carlos Aured

In 2002, at a time when they were one of the leading providers of classic horror on DVD, Anchor Bay released two favorites starring Paul Naschy: WEREWOLF SHADOW and CURSE OF THE DEVIL. These two titles are part of Naschy’s long-running Waldemar Daninsky/Werewolf series, and six years later, BCI is re-releasing them after an excellent run with their “Spanish Horror Collection” (these two titles do not adorn that labeling on the cover, but the animated menus do, and are the same as usual). Since we reviewed the Anchor Bay discs in 2002, you can click the above links to read more about the films. The purpose of this review space is to see how the new BCI editions compare to the old AB ones (which are out-of-print but still easy to find through eBay and online retailers).

Anchor Bay’s disc of WEREWOLF SHADOW looked great to begin with, but BCI’s version is an improvement. Presented in its original 1.85:1 hard-matted aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement, colors here are bolder and the overall clarity is sharper, making this transfer comparable to some of the best in BCI’s “Spanish Horror Collection.” The framing is also better here than on the AB disc, as there seems to be slightly more picture information all around. Like the AB disc, BCI’s version includes a mono English audio track (though no mention is made of this on the DVD’s back cover) and like with the AB version, English subtitles automatically pop up for several scenes of dialogue which there is no English track for. Unlike the AB disc, a full Spanish language track is included here with optional English subtitles. The AB disc has English beginning and end titles which seem to have been newly made for Atlas’ English export version, but this BCI disc boasts beginning and end titles in Spanish, bearing the original title “La Noche de Walpurgis.”

The main extra here is the alternate American theatrical version known as THE WEREWOLF VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMAN, which is trimmed of some dialogue and bare breasts. The good news is that its presented 1.85:1 anamorphic, but the bad news is that the print is faded and rather worn. Also, this version should have been a definitive reference point as to what Americans saw in theaters and drive-ins, but the U.S. title and end credits (which were obviously spliced in from another print source) don’t have the eerie library music (heard in other films of the period such as Jess Franco’s VENUS AND FURS and WITCHCRAFT ’70), that it’s supposed to, but rather some grating background projection noise (this music can be found on all of the other PD videos and DVDs out there). The still gallery is impressive and includes some rare color shots, but a trailer (listed on the back cover) is nowhere to be found. The AB disc included a 15-minute video interview with Naschy (“Interview with the Werewolf”), an English export trailer, the American trailer and a different still gallery (a hodgepodge of various Naschy stills and poster art) as well as a Naschy bio.

Unlike all of BCI's other “Spanish Horror Collection” titles, these two do not state“Mastered in High Definition from the Original Negative,” and this is apparent in the case of their CURSE OF THE DEVIL. Although Anchor Bay’s DVD of the film was not perfect, it still looked pretty good with decent colors and a nice level of detail. BCI’s disc appears to be sourced from the same Atlas International uncut edition of the film, but with lesser results. Colors often look washed or they shift towards orange and brown too much. The worst thing here is a hard-to-describe choppiness which intermittently advances the action forward in a split second kind of motion, and this happens throughout the presentation and can be quite unnerving to look at. BCI’s disc is presented 1.85:1 with anamorphic enhancement, and the framing looks pretty much the same as the AB disc, but the visual presentation puts it in second place. It does include a Spanish language mono track with optional subtitles, unlike the AB disc which only carries one audio option.

Extras on BCI’s CURSE OF THE DEVIL are a cropped English trailer (it's presented widescreen on the AB disc), a rare and lengthy Spanish language trailer (under the original title, “El Retorno de Walpurgis”) and a nice still gallery. The AB disc included the same Naschy video interview, still gallery and Naschy bio as their WEREWOLF SHADOW disc. Both BCI discs have excellent liner notes (in attractive pull-out booklets) by Mirek Lipinski, paying a fond farewell to Carlos Aured, who passed away earlier this year, in the notes for CURSE.

That’s the pluses and minuses of BCI’s WEREWOLF SHADOW and CURSE OF THE DEVIL in a nutshell. Next up, BCI will be releasing an anamorphic version of Naschy’s COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE this September (double-billed with VAMPIRE HOOKERS!), and more on that soon! (George R. Reis)