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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Decemystery (2021) 21: Las noches del Hombre Lobo (AKA: Nights of the Werewolf)

It’s the first day of winter! Woo-hoo; time to celebrate with… another story.

Sometime last year, I was talking to one of the owners of the YouTube channel “Debunk File”. I’m decently close to him and send him ideas on videos to make—typically ones that I have no interest in doing, or simply think are better suited for his channel. Those stories tend to be Internet mysteries and unsolved crimes which I don’t believe I can do justice to.

Alas, not every story that I pick ends up becoming a video. That’s the case with the mysterious lost film Las noches del Hombre Lobo (AKA: Nights of the Werewolf). I had proposed this to Jif—who edits and writes for Debunk File (and more or less serves as the face of the channel)—and he took quite a liking to it. However, he ultimately turned it down as he couldn’t find enough information on it.

As such, I had contemplated writing about it for last year’s Decemystery, but I myself decided to forego it in favor of writing about London After Midnight, which is widely regarded as the Holy Grail of lost films. I primarily did this since I wanted to see if I could add to Debunk File’s own video on the movie. I’m personally happy with how my own write-up came out and because of that, it motivated me to cover Nights of the Werewolf. So let’s get to it!

The Story

Today’s story is one I found back in 2018; before I even started this blog. I remember it clearly; I was out shopping with my now ex-girlfriend, and I was on the Lost Media Wiki, which is a truly great site if you’re at all into, well, lost media. It’s got articles on lost movies, video games, music, literature, radio broadcasts, Internet media, puppetry, and everything else that you could think of. Anyways, I was on the website, and I found the article for today’s story and my interest was immediately piqued, and I had the desire to cover it at some point (never would’ve imagined it would take over three years though).

However, before we get into the nit and gritty of the story, we need to take a step back and go over the man behind the story: an actor named Jacinto Molina Álvarez (better known as Paul Naschy). Paul—as I will call him—was a very well-known actor from Spain; he became known as the “Spanish Lon Chaney”. He portrayed an array of horror figures; the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, a Mummy, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll, and even Rasputin. There are a bunch of other characters he played too, but let’s not get sidetracked.

Of the various characters he played, Paul was best known for the “Hombre Lobo” series; that’s “werewolf” in Spanish I believe. The werewolf series spanned twelve films (technically sixteen, but four of them don’t have the character that loosely ties the aforementioned twelve together). In the main “series”, Paul portrays a wolf by the name of Count Waldemar Daninsky. I don’t know what the plots to the films are (they’re available on Wikipedia if you want to skim them), but judging by the titles, they sound like good old fashioned B-horror fun. One involves the titular werewolf fighting Dracula and one where he goes up against a Yeti. I might watch these to be quite honest, but let’s move on.

Anyways, now we can loop back to the main point of today’s write-up. Of the twelve werewolf films, one remains missing: Nights of the Werewolf. This is the story that I found on the aforementioned Lost Media Wiki, and the story behind it… really weird to be honest. Chronologically, this appears to be the second in the franchise, and it seems it was to be released the same year as the first film: La Marca del Hombre Lobo (AKA: The Mark of the Wolf Man). That makes sense given movies were far easier to produce back then (to an extent at least), but I digress. 

Let’s go over what we know about Nights (as I will call it from here on out). According to Paul, the film's screenplay was written by him—though it seems that two others contributed to it. One of these was the film’s director, a man by the name of René Govar. The other writer isn’t important because they don’t contribute to the story in any way, shape or form. My sincerest apologies to “C. Bellard” (whose only credit on IMDb appears to be for this film).

Moving on now: according to Paul, the movie was about a professor who discovers that one of his students has lycanthropy. Being a devious man, the professor states that he is willing to help him, but in reality, intends to have him carry out various acts of revenge. He intends to do this by utilizing “sound waves” in order to mind control him (presumably; the synopsis on Wikipedia makes it a bit vague). Honestly sounds kind of neat, if rather cheesy.

The film itself was supposedly shot in Paris; the city of love and one really bad werewolf movie. Filming appears to have gone without a hitch, which is great because this could’ve been the Spanish equivalent to a Klaus Kinski movie. That said, it’s what happened after filming ended that things got crummy. According to Paul, René Govar died in a car accident. That, on its own, is sad, but wouldn’t affect the film since it had been sent off to a lab. So at the most, they would’ve added an “in honor of” message, or they might’ve delayed things had René been responsible for editing it on his own. If he was, the studio would’ve needed to hire a new editor (or appoint someone to finish it). If he wasn’t responsible for editing it on his own, then disregard that statement.

That isn’t what happened though. In fact, nobody’s really sure what happened. There are multiple versions that can be found, all of which more or less result in the same thing (which is that the film is now lost). In one version, the film was in René’s vehicle when he got into the accident, which destroyed the one and only print that existed. However, some say that the film wasn’t in the car, and that it was indeed sent to the aforementioned lab. However, for whatever insane reason, nobody decided to pay for the negative costs, so the lab simply held onto it until they either misplaced it or threw it away because it was collecting dust and really, no film executive is likely going to want to release it.

But hey, fine, the movie was lost and that’s that. Nothing really strange; some movies are sadly lost to the passage of time for one reason or another. This could be another case like London After Midnight though, where the film was lost, but maybe someone out there has a print and they don’t know it.

Except that isn’t the case at all. Not in the slightest. You see, things get really weird once you dig deeper (by which I mean: when you read the next sentence on Wikipedia or the Lost Media Wiki pages after everything I said above). You see, nobody who worked on this film appears to have ever existed. René Govar has no other credits as a director, writer, producer, editor, actor, or film assistant anywhere. As for the actors who supposedly starred alongside Paul—Peter Beaumont and Monique Brainville—have no other movie credits. Another actor by the name of Helene Vatelle also lacks any credits besides this one. On the upside, Beba Novak appears to have starred in one other movie that came out in 1970: El vértigo del crimen (The Vertigo of Crime), which was about some cocaine being stolen. I see they finally made a film based around my life a full 26 years before I was born. Good to see that the Chronovisor was being put to great use!

Joking aside, Paul himself remained adamant that the film existed (in spite of him freely admitting he never actually saw the movie) until the day he died. Not once did he ever give quarter to those who believed the film to have been made up. However, no actual proof of the film has emerged…

Except for one supposed still image (which serves as the header for this write-up). That image comes from a documentary about Paul entitled “The Man Who Saw Frankenstein Cry”. Where the image came from or how it was found, I have no idea. Doing a reverse image search yields extremely few results, which is honestly kind of disappointing since I would’ve hoped someone had done research into the image. There’s no way I could feasibly find anything out about the image given that it’s rather grainy and not really anything exceptional; it’s a man in werewolf make-up near what appears to be a door or wall. There are a plethora of films with similar shots, so unless I’m just that bad at research, I doubt there’s anything I could find from it.

The only noteworthy thing is that someone on Facebook using the name René Govar has it as their profile picture and background. On the page, they say that it is the “official website” for Nights of the Werewolf, which is kind of depressing since you’d think they would’ve instead used something like Blogger to make a half-baked website and not Mark Zuckerberg’s data mining center. Oh well, who am I to judge? I myself use that data mining center. Hopefully he sold my data to someone worthwhile!

So where does that leave us? Well, in all honesty: it leaves us up a creek without a paddle, let alone a boat or shark repellent. In spite of the one supposed still image being found, nothing has ever come out about the film’s existence. Although Paul maintained that it was in fact real, he died not only without having ever seen it, but seemingly without having given any other details; any supposed props, extras, or assistants who worked on it remain unknown. There are a few theories as to what the film was though, so let’s go over them.


1. It did exist

The first theory is that the film was real. While there’s no real evidence to prove that René or (most) of the actors were real, some believe that the film did exist and that it was later repurposed into another of the werewolf films: 1970’s La Furia del Hombre Lobo (The Fury of the Wolfman). In that movie, a college professor named Waldemar Daninsky goes to Tibet, where he’s bitten by a Yeti and subsequently turns into a werewolf.

Canceled movies being repurposed as other films are by no means uncommon (you can see it very easily with the rumor that an unused script for The Brazilian Job became Fast Five), but in this case, it seems rather odd that nobody attached to Fury of the Wolfman ever came forward to confirm this claim. Given that most, if not all, of those involved in that movie who would’ve had that information are likely now deceased, I doubt we’d ever get such confirmation.

Still, this remains a decently popular theory, and it would at least confirm that, at the very least, Nights existed in some capacity. As for why the film became lost, there’s nothing more than that it was destroyed in the car accident that killed René Govar or that the lab that was going to process it lost it. If the latter is true, I question why no one has ever tried to get in contact with them. Surely they’d have some record of it being there at one point. Unless they get rid of that too.

2. It didn’t exist

This is arguably the most popular theory, and it’s also the last one. Fans of Paul believe that he made the film up in order to boost his résumé. Given that this would have been one of his earliest films, and a lot of studios are hesitant to cast newcomers (unless it’s a low-budget indie film or something like that), it’s suspected that yeah, he just made it up. I have no idea if this was common practice back in the earlier days of filmmaking, but if it was: then this is likely just a case where the hoax took off and became something of a popular urban legend.

My Take

In my eyes, I think this was just some sort of hoax made up by Paul. While he may have remained adamant that the film was real, I sincerely doubt it was. The lack of any record of those involved, coupled with the lack of anyone who may have actually worked on it coming forward at any point, really makes me doubtful it existed. I think that Paul may have insisted it was real so as to not face any shame or humiliation that he fabricated a film in order to boost his career.

As for the supposed photo from the movie, I’m skeptical if it’s real. I feel it might’ve been faked for the documentary. Though if it is real, I have to wonder where they found it. If the only existing print of the film was destroyed, who the heck kept a random photo of it? That’s really odd—albeit rather convenient for a documentary crew. Also, if they had the picture, why the heck did that person never come forward to confirm that the movie did at one point exist?

Maybe my questions are answered in the documentary itself. If they are, I’ll concede that I should’ve watched it before writing this. If they aren’t, then… yeah, I just stand by everything I said above. I don’t think the film is real, and I think the picture was likely faked to add fuel to the fire that the film really did exist.



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