Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film





Director: Jose Luis Madrid
Screenplay: Jose Luis Madrid
Music: Angel Arteaga
Cast: Waldemar Wohlfahrt, Patricia Loran, Luis Induni, Barta Barry
Running time: 90 minutes


This dry-as-a-desert deadpan satire may be Madrid's masterstroke. Waldemar Wohlfahrt (Wal Davis), once voted the sleaziest man in the world, is a self destructive vampire terrorizing his identical descendant in a Black Forest castle. The Stuttgart, West Germany locations look appropriately corrupted and disheveled in midwinter. Wohlfahrt's Count Oblensky is an Aryan aristocrat who whiles away his time fiddling with stuffed animals. Everyone is dumb as dirt here, especially Barta Barry's overconfident police inspector.

The theme is that the incredible nature of the vampire is his ticket to survival in the modern world. Madrid winks but never lets the subtle black humor go over the top. It works as both a modern-day vampire film and low-keyed spoof, without batting an eye or eyeing a bat (this vampire can render himself invisible but never takes wing). The director employs a kind of self-critique in his voyeuristic structuring: over and over we peer through framing devices at beautiful women stripping down as a prelude to the sudden appearance of Baron Von Winninger.

A rather hapless vampire, Von Winninger craves release from his condition, hewing to the traditional mythology. The regular displays of female nudity become a routine, satisfying both the sexploitation factor and anticipating the more sado-erotic Madrid-directed JACK EL DESTRIPADOR DE LONDRES (1971), which would take this to perverse extremes. The gore factor is almost nil and quite tame compared to the Hammer product of that era. The film plays as a kind of good natured, easy going in-joke for Euro-horror fans. Depending on your expectations, you'll either experience it as dismayingly generic or delightfully droll.

Look out for future Franco sleaze queen Ada Tauler (LOVE CAMP, also with Wohlfahrt) as an early victim. Add Luis Induni and Barta Barry as obtuse cops, and you have a pleasant oddity which was never meant to be a classic and would take centuries to replicate by any process of natural selection. And that Angel Arteaga score!

-- Reviewed by Robert Monell