Wednesday, October 10, 2012

MUCHAS GRACIAS SENOR LOBO book review

Today is one of those days that makes me feel more fortunate to do what I do, because in today's mail I received a review copy of Thorston Benzel's revised edition of his MUCHAS GRACIAS, SENOR LOBO, an overview of the world of Paul Naschy memorabilia.

The original, compact, black-and-white paperback edition was nice but this new, full-color hardcover edition from Creepy Images is lavish beyond belief. It begins with a touching Introduction by Naschy's son, Sergio Molina, who touchingly recalls coming home one day to see his father paging emotionally through the original edition, seeing in many cases for the first time some of the rare materials which had spread his stardom around the world, farther than he had realized. Then Benzel himself follows with a foreword to lend his efforts some background, and some honorable apology for the inevitable incompleteness of what appears to every sense an exhaustive execution of duty. True, there may be some Mexican or Pakistani posters that slipped through his fingers, but still... The text, incidentally, is bilingual, in German and English throughout the handsomely designed project.

The main body of the book collects international poster art, lobby cards, pressbooks and stills for 30 different Naschy films, ranging from 1968's LA MARCA DEL HOMBRE LOBO (US: FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR) to 1988's EL AULLIDO DEL DIABLO (US: HOWL OF THE DEVIL), each chapter initiated with Benzel's careful notes about the film, its production and promotional histories, and the specific difficulties each title addresses to the movie materials collector. Of course, Naschy made more than 30 films but not all of the titles would have sustained a chapter-like focus; for these titles, a special appendix chapter is offered at the back of the book, surveying these titles in brief. It should be noted that the book omits any representation of the two films he made in America in 2004, COUNTESS DRACULA'S ORGY OF BLOOD and TOMB OF THE WEREWOLF, but it's possible neither of those direct-to-video titles generated any paper memorabilia. The book focuses on theatrical memorabilia and does not include, for example, home video packaging art -- which might be one area into which subsequent editions might expand. Among the more sobering discoveries of Benzel's coverage is the great scarcity of authentic Spanish materials on Naschy's films, and also the extent to which those available misrepresent the dedicated writer-actor-director's name (Richard Naschy, Paul Mackey, etc).

As is, however, MUCHAS GRACIAS, SENOR LOBO feels anything but limited in scope. It is a tremendous, jaw-dropping, eye-boggling testimony, not only to Naschy himself, but to all the commercial artists whom his work has inspired all over the world. An obvious labor of love, 18 years in the collecting and two years in production, it's a must-have, not only for Naschy fans but for devotées of monster art in particular.

Here's a link to Creepy Images' page-through preview of the book, which concludes with information about how to obtain your copy.

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