The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry: Paul Naschy, the Life and Legend of a Horror Icon
It’s nice that there even is a feature-length documentary about the late Jacinto Molina, aka Paul Naschy – and if this is stronger on evoking his essential sweetness (his sons especially present him as a great guy) than analysing his oddly childish yet gruesome filmography, then that’s probably what the fans want. There are astonishing moments – a Japanese trip which involves the yakuza and murder – and some interesting stuff (admittedly available in his autobiography) about his parents and childhood during the Spanish Civil War. Mick Garris narrates, Joe Dante and John Landis admire his tenacity and presence even if they’re vague about his specific qualities as an actor and filmmaker, and a few co-workers share memories (perhaps inevitably, we get more from Caroline Munro, Don Glut and Del Howison, who worked with him late in his career, than from Spanish horror luminaries like Jorge Grau, Migel Iglesias and Javier Aguirre).
No one expresses the opinion that a lot of his work isn’t particularly good, or even tries to understand the odd quirk of a Spanish kid becoming obsessed with becoming the next character actor horror star and managing it even as the era of Lee and Price and Cushing, let alone Karloff and Lugosi and Chaney Jr, was passing. His frustrations with his marginal place in Spanish cinema are mentioned, but only as a set-up to a medal he got late in life – and there’s an interesting, unexplored avenue in his brief involvement with the new wave of Spanish horror (appearing in Rottweiler) that seems not to have been a vindication for him. There are clips, but not from many films – it would be hard to get an idea of Naschy’s screen presence from the snippets here, or even get a sense of what his movies were like. A 25-minute Mondo Macabro episode would go deeper into things. Written and directed by Angel Agudo.