Howls of the Week (10/15/23 - 10/21/23)

This will probably be a new feature, similar to the old monthly LUNAR CYCLE I used to do. I figured I would just post quick thoughts on films I've recently seen, while giving bigger/solo spotlights to more popular/important films. Let's see how this goes.


Directed By: José Díaz Morales

Starring: Santo, Fernando Oses, Mercedes Carreno, Antonio de Hud, Susana Robles

Genre: Horror/Action/Vampires

Running Time: 77 Minutes

Score: 2 Howls Outta 4 (6 out of 10)

Plot: Santo goes up against the vampire Baron Brakola, who has returned to seek vengeance on the descendants of the Knight in the Silver Mask (Santo’s colonial era ancestor).

Review: Santo sure loves fighting vampires, as BARON BRAKOLA is another installment of our favorite Lucha Libre star battling the undead. I actually liked this a bit more than SANTO VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN, only because there seemed to be higher production values and an interesting narrative that went back-and-forth between the past and present. I enjoyed the swashbuckling aspect of the past scenes with The Knight In the Silver Mask getting one up on Brakola, causing the vampire to go after Santo [Silver Mask’s descendant] and the female descendant of a past enemy in the present day, which have more action/wrestling scenes of its time. The cheap effects, including a frame cut disappearing act and a rubber bat scratching windows, add a nice charm as well. Brakola is really goofy looking as well, which brings some unintentional comedy. Nothing groundbreaking or a must-see, but Santo fans will eat this up for the film’s short and breezy runtime.


Directed By: Harry Kümel

Starring: Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Quimet, Andrea Rau

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Drama/Vampires

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: A newlywed couple are passing through a vacation resort. Their paths cross with a mysterious, strikingly beautiful countess and her aide. 

Review: Any film that starts out with a sex scene is going to instantly grab your attention. Harry Kumel’s DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS is no exception, playing less like a standard vampire film and more like an arthouse psychological thriller that just implies the undead manipulating the situations happening throughout the film. Delphine Seyrig is hypnotizing as Countess Bathory, giving a seductive and classy performance that hides her menace and bloodthirsty intentions. John Karlen as Stefan is also very good as a man who is repressed in many aspects of his life, causing him to be physically and sexually abusive as he gets off on the idea of death. Danielle Ouimet is stunning, but is kind of one-note as Valerie, while Andrea Rau is striking in her presence as Bathory’s familiar, Ilona. The Belgian scenery adds an exotic flair, while Kumel’s use of primary colors throughout [especially the reds and blues] are striking. What could have been a sexploitation type of "Dracula” movie ends up being more interesting and captivating than that, making DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS one to seek out if you like sex and drama in your vampire movies. This film is definitely a vibe.


Directed By: Jesus "Jess" Franco

Starring: Carmen Yalzade, Anne Libert, Alberto Dalbes, Howard Vernon, Daniel White, Jesus Franco

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Vampires

Running Time: 82 Minutes

Score: 1.5 Howls Outta 4 (4 out of 10)

Plot: Luisa is called to the bed of her dying mother Edith at Karlstein Castle. Before she dies, she tells Luisa that the Karlsteins are a family of vampires and that her ancestor, the original Count Karlstein, lies buried in the crypt. Afterwards, Luisa goes and finds the count’s coffin and discovers that he is undead. As she takes Karine, her cousin as her lover, a police inspector, Ptuschko investigates a series of killings around the town, dismissing the locals who insist these are being caused by vampires.

Review: Anyone who is expecting VAMPYROS LESBOS is going to be severely disappointed, as Jess Franco’s DAUGHTER OF DRACULA is pretty much a confusing snore for much of its runtime. Despite the beautiful women, the sex that occurs between them, and a weird vampire Count who just lays in his coffin and never bothers getting out of it, the film doesn’t really have much more to offer. It wants to be a vampire film, while also trying to be a giallo, as well as going for a sexploitation incest angle between two female cousins lusting for each other - this movie never knows what it wants to be. Great Jess Franco zoom shots though, if you’re into that sort of thing. And the final few minutes are pretty cool, but it’s a chore getting there. Unless you need to see every Jess Franco movie, I wouldn’t rush out to watch this anytime soon.


Directed By: René Cardona 

Starring: Santo, Aldo Monti, Noelia Noel, Roberto G. Rivera, Carlos Agosti, Alberto Rojas

Genre: Horror/Action/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure/Thriller/Vampires

Running Time: 81 Minutes

Score: 2.5 Howls Outta 4 (6 out of 10)

Plot: A woman travels to her past life with the help of Santo’s past life regression machine.

Review: What an odd Santo feature this is. So apparently Santo creates a time machine, in which he sends a female colleague back in time to live the life of an ancestor who Dracula was infatuated with. Not only that, but there’s a goon squad in the present day - led by someone in an executioner’s hood who hates guns - who wants to use the time machine to steal treasure, or something like that. The best part about this film is that this executioner guy and Santo agree on who gets to use the time machine through a wrestling match [but of course]. And then Dracula manages to enter the present day to cause trouble. Typical Santo goofiness but with a pretty chill performance by Dracula actor Aldo Monti, who would appear as other characters in later Santo features. Pretty dumb in an amusing way.


Directed By: Federico Curiel

Starring: Santo, Norma Lazareno, Gina Romand, Victor Junco, Aldo Monti

Genre: Horror/Action/Vampires

Running Time: 85 Minutes

Score: 1.5 Howls Outta 4 (4 out of 10)

Plot: The vampire women of Mexico have awakened to take their revenge on the descendant of the man who destroyed them shortly after they had emigrated to Mexico during the 19th century.

Review: Probably one of my least favorite Santo films I’ve watched this month, THE VENGEANCE OF THE VAMPIRE WOMEN doesn’t really live up to its wonderful title unfortunately. While there are still wrestling scenes and Santo grappling with goons to stop the evil threat that has come upon him and his friends, nothing else is really all that interesting and it feels a bit “same-old, same-old” by this point. Gina Romand is stunning as the evil Countess Mayra, with many close ups of her eyes attempting to mind control men to do her bidding. I just wish the film was more exciting, but it’s kind of slow and meanders towards the finish line. There’s also a mad scientist subplot that doesn’t help either, moving the vampire women angle to a secondary one. I think this could have been a fun Santo flick, but all I see is wasted potential. 


Directed By: Jesus "Jess" Franco

Starring: Lina Romay, Jack Taylor, Alice Arno, Monica Swinn, Jesus Franco, Anna Watican

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10)

Plot: A mute noblewoman’s vampiric heritage compels her to drain the life force from all of her lovers. 

Review: This Jess Franco film was very interesting in several ways. One, it’s more of a softcore adult movie rather than a horror film. If you ever wanted to see both female and male nudity, as well as pretty close to hardcore sex scenes, FEMALE VAMPIRE is definitely for you. Two, it doesn’t have much of a plot, but I thought Franco projected the themes of loneliness quite well. There’s a great sequence in which Irina [played by the beautiful Lina Romay] writhes on a bed against a wooden bedpost. It not only showcases how lonely she is, but it’s also quite clever since impaling herself on a wooden post for pleasure would just end up killing her probably. And three, is this the only vampire movie where people can die because of great oral sex? That’s quite a gift and a curse. I also liked the idea of a man believing he’s Irina’s soulmate, bringing down her walls and giving her hope she could overcome her vampire curse [which unfortunately doesn’t end well]. I think the film gets repetitive at times but it’s worth a look if you’re a Jess Franco fan. I do think this is one of his better works.

DEAFULA (1975)

Directed By: Peter Wolf

Starring: Peter Wolf, James Randall, Lee Darel, Dudley Hemstreet, Katherine Wilson

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Score: 1.5 Howls Outta 4 (4 out of 10)

Plot: A theology student finds himself turning into a vampire and hunting other students for their blood.

Review: Considering all the different adaptations and perspectives on the immortal Bram Stoker novel, I shouldn’t have been surprised by a Dracula movie where all the actors are reciting their lines through American Sign Language. I think that’s a pretty cool novelty and an interesting way to see how deaf people interpret the Dracula story.

Unfortunately, this Peter Wolf directorial and starring feature wouldn’t be worth mentioning if it wasn’t for the ASL aspect. I don’t mind the really low budget or the amateur takes on filmmaking here. But I watched the dubbed version, which probably didn’t help, making you realize how important scene transitions are when it comes to line reading and dialogue. There are moments where I felt Tommy Wiseau took inspiration for THE ROOM because the way characters spoke to each other was really weird. The flashback scenes weren’t edited in a pleasing way. Also, why did Dracula need a huge prosthetic nose? That was very distracting. But I did admire the twist on the vampire story and the use of religion in the final act. But overall, this didn’t do much for me and I would probably never watch this again. But I respect and I’m glad that it exists because even the hearing impaired deserve their own vampire story. So that gets points from me.

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