The Craving (1981)

THE CRAVING is possibly the most satisfying (if still flawed) Paul Naschy film I’ve watched so far: the fact that Waldemar Daninsky here originates from the Middle Ages gives the character a true mythic quality which is not possible with his usual modern-day persona; besides, his medieval ‘wardrobe’ (beard, coat-of-arms, crossbow and, briefly, an iron mask) is pretty cool – as is the vicious werewolf look which Naschy comes up with for this one, certainly the creepiest of his that I’ve seen…though, ironically enough, it doesn’t see a lot of action (still, I guess, there’s really so much can be done differently from one film to the next). The atmosphere (fog, candlelight, color gels) is really laid on thick here and the score, too, is pretty varied for this type of film (I even liked the rock theme heard during the opening and closing credits).

What prevents THE CRAVING from getting a *** rating from me, which would make it a solid and good picture, is a rather muddled storyline (though still the most interesting yet penned by Naschy): when the film opens, Waldemar is supposed to be Elizabeth Bathory’s lieutenant but when they are revived centuries later, he is somehow hellbent on destroying her (and the army of women – there’s a plethora of female characters here but, alas, very little nudity – which she manages to vampirize)!; the evil Erika, well-versed in the occult and who has no qualms about murdering her mentor, and later sacrifice her best friend in order to restore the vampire lady whom she idolizes, is set up initially as a quite formidable villain – even seducing Waldemar when a vampire – but her role gradually deteriorates to nothing, apparently so as to allow the Bathory character to take center-stage for the climactic duel between the werewolf and his arch-nemesis. Unfortunately, this sequence comes off as anti-climactic because one can hardly discern anything that’s going on: either the print is too dark or it was simply filmed that way; however, the ending of this one is really bleak as Waldemar’s love interest, already on her way to becoming a vampire, is infected with the curse of the werewolf as well(!) but she is quick to bring the house down in a conflagration which decimates the evil pervading the entire manor…