Posted: November 12, 2021 in Uncategorized

Steve Sullivan and I continued our Paul Naschy watch-alongs with Assignment Terror (1970). Coming early in his career (only his third script), this is an entertaining but shambolic exercise. There are traces of the elements that make up the delights of Naschy’s mature work as a writer (primarily the throwing together of enough horror elements to populate five other films), but they aren’t cohering yet, Naschy the actor isn’t used to his strengths, and the sub-par makeup brings everything down. Have a look at what the poster promises, versus what you actually get.

What we have is essentially a widescreen, colour reworking of Plan 9 from Outer Space. Michael Rennie is an alien with a vaguely conceived plan of gathering together the great monsters and terrorizing humanity into submission. So we get Naschy’s Waldemar Daninsky werewolf character, a mummy, a not-Dracula, and a not-Frankenstein’s Monster. A golem is mentioned, but never features.

The mummy looks quite good, but the Monster is a joke, the vampire looks like a lounge lizard, and Waldemar is more simian than lupine. The monster mashing conjures fond memories of Unversal’s late period, and the final fight between werewolf and Monster recreates some moves from Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. The resolution of the fight with the mummy is rather hilarious, apparently involving a giant hamster wheel.

So all of that is fun, but it there is a lot to wade through to get there, and, as Steve pointed out, there is no through-character. Naschy has little to do, having almost no dialogue even when not transformed. Our nominal hero, a police detective, is a total non-entity, disappearing for large swaths of the film, and his romance with the heroine is beyond perfunctory. Rennie, as our antagonist, is also absent a lot of the time, his plan becoming more and more nebulous. The result is a patchwork meander through disconnected scenes before the goofy-but-fun climax. This is basically a rough draft of what was to come later, with better scripts from Naschy, better makeup, and directors who knew what to do with him.

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