FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF (1964)
Article 2148 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-1-2007
Posting Date: 6-30-2007
Directed by Gilberto Martinez Solares, Rafael Portillo and Jerry Warren
Featuring Lon Chaney Jr., Yerye Beirute, George Mitchell
Scientists visit a pyramid in Yucatan, and find two mummies, one of which is very much active. The other mummy is stolen and brought to life by other scientists, who are unaware that this mummy is actually a werewolf. Chaos ensues.
Some thoughts on FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF.
1) There were two types of Jerry Warren movies. First of all, there were the ones that mostly consisted of original stories and footage. Then there were those that were cobbled together from foreign movies mixed with original footage to fill in the plot points that were lost because of Warren’s reluctance to use extensive dubbing. If I had to choose, I’d say that this is the best movie he made of the latter type.
2) Of course, just because it’s the best of that type of movie of his, that doesn’t mean it’s any good; it is, in fact, like all of his other efforts in this vein (and most of the others in the other vein) godawful. It is, however, somewhat more watchable than his other exercises.
3) One of the reasons this one works better is that he keeps the number of long pointless insert scenes to a minimum. These were always the worst scenes of these movies; they largely consisted of people sitting around having long-winded and boring conversations that added nothing to the plot. There’s only one scene here that is like that, and it’s relatively short. Be thankful for small favors.
4) Another reason it works a little better is that it’s cobbled together from two movies rather than one. Given the fact that Warren hated trying to sync up dubbing with lip movements, he felt compelled to remove all conversation scenes and keep only scenes of a primarily visual nature. When he was doing this with only one movie, you got lots of inserts. When he had two, there were much fewer. The fewer scenes Jerry Warren himself directed, the better.
5) Of course, given that two different movies were cobbled together (HOUSE OF TERROR and THE AZTEC MUMMY, the latter of which he had already extensively pillaged for ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY), the resulting plot is loopy and confused. One of the more amusing things in this regard is to see how he figures out to kill almost all of the major characters from THE AZTEC MUMMY footage in order to keep us wondering why none of them appear in the second half of the movie, which is mostly made up of footage from HOUSE OF TERROR.
6) In some ways, I have to admire his techniques for getting around the dubbing problem. If he has to dub in dialogue, he almost always has the person who is talking either a) not onscreen, b) with his back turned to the viewer, or c) in the dark so you can’t see his lips. Every once in a while he gets amitious and actually tries to dub words to moving lips; I think this happens with about ten words during the course of the movie.
7) It would be interesting to write a list sometime of pieces of footage that popped up repeatedly in different movies. The footage of the sacrificial ceremony from THE AZTEC MUMMY appears here once again; that footage also popped up in the sequels to THE AZTEC MUMMY as well as ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY.
8) Believe it or not, I think there’s a King Kong reference in the movie. Now, I can buy King Kong carrying a beautiful woman up the side of a building; it’s a little harder to swallow if it’s a werewolf, even if he’s being chased by German “Tin Tan” Valdes.
9) For the record, this movie has the worst moment of editing I’ve seen since EL BAUL MACABRO (where the scene clipboard actually makes it to the final footage), and that’s a scene where we see Lon Chaney Jr. in a cell. He sits down and waits. The scene then cuts to an aerial view of a big city while jazzy music plays. Then the scene cuts to…well, I’ll let you see for yourself. If you’re like me, your jaw will drop.
10) In the lab scene, there is a machine with three clear man-sized tubes that revolves like a merry-go-round. Someday, I hope to find out just what that thing is supposed to do.