Format: Musty old paperback
Publisher: Guild-Hartford Publishing
Publication Year: 1972
The fascinating thing about this one isn’t that it’s the worst written piece of horror fiction on the planet, although make no mistake, it is. No, the oddest thing here is that this is a movie tie-in paperback, a type of book that usually means one of two things: 1: it contains the novel that inspired the movie in question, or 2: the book is an adaptation of a screenplay. Neither is the case here.
The front and back covers carry photos from the 1971 film of the same name (available on DVD under the title Werewolf Shadow) which was one of countless Spanish-made films to feature Paul Naschy as the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. The novel itself, however, is clearly written by someone who has never seen the film or even read the screenplay. I can only assume that in order for the novel to be on stands at the same time that the movie was playing theatres the book needed to be put together quickly. In those pre-internet days shipping a film or script across the Atlantic would have taken time that probably wasn’t available. So armed only with a brief story synopsis and a seriously delusional opinion of his own writing ability, the author probably banged this little ditty out in a day or so.
Presumably the name Waldemar was deemed too exotic for American readers so our titular lycanthrope becomes Waldo the Werewolf (can you hear my eyes rolling?). As the book opens “Waldo was dead but not very dead.” The late Waldo is brought into the morgue with a silver bullet in his heart. Once the hapless coroner removes the bullet, Waldo springs back to life and strangles the doctor before turning his attention to the doctor’s lovely assistant Ruth.
“Please don’t hurt me, Mr. Werewolf,” she begged. “I am only 21 and have at least 10 good years ahead of me.”
Waldo rapes Ruth as he eventually does with several female characters, which sounds like it should be offensive but it’s impossible to take anything here seriously. Our lycanthrope soon hooks up with Elvira and Genevieve, a pair of med students who are writing their thesis on the vampire queen Wandessa de Nadasdy. Waldo hates all vampires so he joins the two women in their search for Wanda’s grave so he can use his own blood to bring her back to life then kill her again with a silver dagger. Yeah, Waldo’s got more issues than Fangoria.
Our heroes eventually find Wandessa’s grave and bring her back to life, but fortunately for her Waldo is a bit of an idiot and he botches two attempts at re-killing the undead queen. Vampire and werewolf soon join forces embarking on a staggeringly dysfunctional relationship for the remainder of the book.
This posting over at thestranger.com identifies author Arthur N. Scarm (or Scram as it appears on the title page) as a pen name for prolific hack writer Leo Guild. Whatever his name, he has a lot to answer for. It’s hard to tell if the weird stream of consciousness writing was an attempt at style or the result of incompetence fueled by too much caffeine. Not only was the author not familiar with the film he was adapting, but he doesn’t seem to have much of an idea what a werewolf even is. Waldo only turns into a traditional wolf man on New Years day, during which he also has bizarre teleportation abilities. The rest of the time he is super-humanly strong and can be identified as a werewolf by the large ring of hair that encircles his mid-section.
Curiosity and perhaps a smidgen of masochism drove me to read this one. I certainly can’t recommend it, but I imagine there are fans of the Paul Naschy film out there whose inquisitive minds won’t let this slip by. Used copies of the original 1972 publication are going for $30 – $60 on Amazon, but I suggest going for the more economical trade paperback available through Lulu.com. Presumably the publisher Ramble House is treating the book as a public domain property and this newer version does not use any logos or imagery from the film.