Griffin Madill tribute to Paul Naschy
My little tribute to Jacinto Molina Alvarez is to remember how, as a clueless teenager in the mid-1980s, I scoured video stores for luridly packaged horror movies. My poor mother was regularly enlisted to drive me for miles to explore one run-down emporium of obscure VHS delights after another. Even then growing bored with Hollywood, I quickly discovered a small number of names that I could trust to consistently entertain, thrill and impress me; among this select group were Argento, Fulci, Gianetto de Rossi, Janet Agren… Directors, effects artists, the occasional alluring actress who excited my burgeoning adolescence. Only one male actor had a name the presence of which on the box art guaranteed my rental fee: Paul Naschy. I took to this renaissance man as a modern day, Iberian Lon Chaney SR. – an actor, make-up artist, stuntman, director, writer – as capable of solemn vulnerability as he was of feral physicality.
One evening in late 2009 I, now a married man more than twenty years removed from those first encounters with el hombre lobo and Alaric De Marnac, learnt of Senor Molina Alvarez’s passing and (after the initial shock had passed) I reflected sadly on my impression that Paul Naschy had never truly received his due adulation and appreciation in his homeland.
Now, just five years later, things have changed immeasurably for the better. Spanish audiences and new generations are able to enjoy some of Naschy’s finest work on DVD and Blu-ray. His legacy has been reassessed, it seems, and the man who poured his heart and soul into his life’s work is finally understood to have been a vital and unyielding force for genre cinema, not just for Spain but also on a significant global level. From what little I know of the man Jacinto Molina Alvarez through reading his memoirs, I imagine he would be delighted. Feliz cumpleaños, Senor Naschy, happy birthday.