I NEVER CALLED HIM “PAUL” by Shane Dallmann
By Shane Dallmann (Old tribute from the day Paul Naschy passed away)
Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina Alvarez, 1934-2009) provided me with countless hours of entertainment well long before I first set pen to paper in the name of genre journalism. His body of work became the inspiration for my first published articles (as writer/historian Shane M. Dallmann) and would later go on to become a cornerstone of my efforts in the field of entertainment (as horror host “Remo D.”). In other words, Paul Naschy has always been a huge part of who I am and what I do in the field of the fantastic. That doesn’t make me special. But it sure as hell makes HIM special. I trust you’ll forgive me for not delving into biography/filmography at this time. All I want to do now is to tell you my personal story as it relates to the one and only Paul Naschy.
As a young “creature feature” fan in the early 1970s, I was scarcely alone in staying up on weekends to watch the various monstrous adventures of Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and, of course, Lon Chaney, Jr. Almost everyone at school watched the same movies as I did-these classics belonged to everybody, just as they should. But just a few short years later, our UHF channels started supplying significantly ‘stronger’ material (and not only during the late hours). A different breed of ‘creature feature’ slowly insinuated itself into the mix, and it wasn’t long before I found myself routinely confronted with movies that WEREN’T talked about at school the next day… that seemed to belong only to those viewers who made a point of seeking them out. And one face, one name stood out amongst these latter-day arrivals… one man who made it clear that he wished to represent the classic monsters much as predecessors along the lines of Chaney himself had done. I passed on the opportunity to watch THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING with the rest of my family in order to take in the bizarre concoction known (however misleadingly) as FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR as it unspooled on a tiny black-and-white television in my room (little did I know how much werewolf Waldemar Daninsky would come to mean to me, especially as his energetic antics in a wacky monster mash known as ASSIGNMENT TERROR seemed to have little or nothing to do with this previous adventure). My mother’s admonition to avoid a nasty little item known as THE MUMMY’S REVENGE (of which she had inadvertently caught a “slice” on her own), naturally, caused me to seek it out all the more eagerly. And cut for TV or not, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB was the one she really would have kept me away from, had she but known-even I thought it went too far at the time! These movies ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous (even then, I realized that THE FURY OF THE WOLFMAN made almost no sense at all), but I never doubted the sincerity or the dedication of the man who brought them to life… Paul Naschy.
At that young age, I had no idea that actor Paul Naschy was also involved in each and every one of these productions as screenwriter Jacinto Molina-it took Michael Weldon’s PSYCHOTRONIC ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FILM to clue me in. That publication, in fact, was one of my most treasured acquisitions-during the 1980s, as I discovered such fresh television items as HOUSE OF DOOM (HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN) and HORROR OF THE WEREWOLF (NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST, another disconnected Waldemar Daninsky thriller), it was an invaluable reference guide which enhanced my constant obsession with cataloguing fantastic films. If you know me at all, you know that my interest in the field is all-encompassing… but Paul Naschy always had a special wing in my hand-scrawled archives, because even then, “everybody” knew the classics (Universal, Hammer, AIP), but it seemed like only Michael Weldon and I knew and valued the contributions of this Spanish horror powerhouse. Still-no Internet, not even a home computer-I had my memory and pages and pages of handwritten notes for some undefined “project”-or for posterity.
Now we come to 1990. Through the home video boom and meticulous TV taping, I could now account for no less than thirty Paul Naschy films available in the United States. FANGORIA Magazine had become the primary source for horror information both classic and current, and detailed articles on the careers and available works of such filmmakers as Mario Bava and Dario Argento were appearing to great acclaim-especially important was an expose by Tim Lucas on just how Argento’s films were being presented to us on video. And it finally hit me. I had thirty movies spanning over twenty years, and I had all the notes I needed to back them up. I went through the list of genre giants repeatedly and reached the same conclusion every time… Paul Naschy was the only figure in the field (with a comparable body of work, of course) who had not yet been given his due with national exposure in this of all magazines. There was a story to be told-there was an article to be written, and it was obviously up to me to write it.
So I did.
The publication of the two-part article “The Mark of Naschy” in FANGORIA #103-104 remains one of my proudest achievements (much later, I was delighted to see the title appropriated for Mirek Lipinski’s official Naschy website: Mirek, of course, went on to become one of-if not the-most valuable contributors to Naschy’s lasting legacy). I went on to chronicle Naschy’s work (both historic and current) in such publications as DEEP RED and BLOOD TIMES, my original article was translated and reprinted in the Spanish edition of FANGORIA, and the experience opened doors for me which allow me to continue to this day as a regular contributor to VIDEO WATCHDOG (courtesy of none other than the aforementioned Tim Lucas) and SCREEM Magazine: while I write about many other films and filmmakers, the work of Paul Naschy remains a constant in my output. Only one thing was still missing. I had hoped to bring the work of Paul Naschy to a wider and more appreciative audience-but as the man was still living and working, I wanted to know that he knew what I was trying to do for him. I had heard from my various publishers that Naschy was, indeed, aware of my writing, but (with instant communication to Spain still out of my reach), I still needed to somehow know this first hand… and I was devastated when the false rumor of Naschy’s death reached me just around that time. The relief I felt when I learned that this report was a cruel hoax was palpable… but I still hadn’t achieved my goal of hearing from the man himself. 1997.
Tony Timpone calls me to let me know that Paul Naschy will be one of the guests of honor at the New York Fango convention in January of 1998. Perhaps I’d like to attend-and would I be interested in providing a video compilation as a means of introducing him? I’m happily married and have a four-year-old daughter now. I can’t afford to fly my family from California to New York with me. But thankfully, they understand, and I’m allowed to make the trip solo. It’s a dream come true (and I trust you’ll understand my shift to the present tense). By pure chance, I meet Paul Naschy and his family in the hotel hours before the convention even begins (I make Naschy’s acquaintance by showing him my custom-made “Waldemar Lives” T-shirt, in fact!) The entire entourage joins me for breakfast and plenty of awe-struck (on my part, of course) conversation… Naschy signs the original galleys of my Fango article and even provides me with a personally autographed copy of his brand-new autobiography (in Spanish, of course). The honor is overwhelming-but I’m still able to ask him the question foremost on my mind… what can I do for him in exchange for what his career has done for me? His answer: “Keep writing.” During the course of this convention, I also meet Mirek Lipinski, whose “Mark of Naschy” website (now www.naschy.com) is now up and running.
But the best was still yet to come. 2000. Naschy returns to America, this time to the Fanex convention in Virginia. And this time, I get to bring my seven-year-old daughter Rebecca with me. My infant son Cameron stays home with his mother, my wife Lisa-but now I have the Internet, and Naschy himself just happened to be the first to send greetings to my new son! Thanks to this newfangled invention, I was able to plan ahead more effectively, and I’m granted the privilege of taking Naschy, his wife Elvira, his son Sergio (I never did get to meet his other son Bruno), Mirek Lipinski, translator/historian Mike Hodges and more to lunch at an Italian restaurant! With Sergio helpfully translating our conversation, we have a terrific get-together… we’re treated to Naschy filching pieces of calamari off Elvira’s plate while he waits for his own meal-and when the music coming from an overhead speaker starts skipping harshly, I point to the speaker and intone “Juan Carlos Calderon” for a good laugh (if you’ve seen VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES, you’ll get the joke).
As momentous as that was, however, a moment preceding that was even more special. The English translation of Naschy’s autobiography was available at this convention, and as Naschy had already signed the Spanish rendition for me, I thought it would be nice to have him sign this one to Rebecca-which, of course, he did. But where my autograph read “Paul Naschy,” his signature to Rebecca simply read “Paul.” And we were quietly told shortly afterwards that a first-name-only signature such as this was reserved only for the most special occasions… and people. (Rebecca responded with an autograph of her own the next morning-a hand-written card inspired by the movie I treated her to the night before… reading “I loved FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR.” I have no doubt that this card is resting on a very special shelf somewhere in Madrid.) Also at this convention, I had the privilege of introducing Naschy and his family to fellow historian/prolific DVD supplement artist Bruce Holecheck, with whom I collaborated very recently on a “Naschy 101” overview on Troma’s DVD release of THE HANGING WOMAN. Though I never saw Paul Naschy again, the magic did, indeed, continue. 2002 saw my initial “TV horror host” bow on REMO D.’S MANOR OF MAYHEM, and we debuted with a screening of my old favorite ASSIGNMENT TERROR. The films of Paul Naschy have largely defined the look and feel of my show, and we were honored by a personalized Halloween greeting from the man himself, which I happily relayed to my viewers. By this time, family responsibilities kept me from travelling even as far as Los Angeles for Naschy’s further convention appearances, but we hoped to take advantage of his proximity and invite him to appear in our independent horror feature THE WOODEN GATE. It was not to be (Jim Van Bebber ultimately made the character of “Paulo” his own), but Naschy personally communicated his regrets. And while most of our communications were helpfully translated by the stalwart Sergio, it was Paul Naschy himself who sent a message of strength and encouragement to our WOODEN GATE castmate Jonelle Snead in the face of her terminal cancer.
Which, sadly, brings us to this day. Please consider this my eulogy, but by no means will these be my final respects. Sharing the work of Paul Naschy has always been a major motivating force in my own work-and it always will be, both in print and on the MANOR. And yes, he’ll always be “Sr. Naschy” to me. I’ve been privileged to enjoy first-name familiarity with Elvira and my good friend Sergio, but pure respect and recognition of tradition (though no rules were ever actually spelled out for me) saw to it that I was never so bold as to address my inspiration by his first name-nor would I ever have presumed to ask for such permission. I never called him “Paul.” And I won’t start now. But Rebecca can call him “Paul.” And that’s more than enough for me. Rest in peace, my friend. My sincere condolences and respects to Elvira, Sergio, Bruno, their families, and friends and fans of Paul Naschy the world over.
Shane M. Dallmann December 1, 2009