Our film is also known as Assignment Terror, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Reincarnator, and, even by the original shooting title of The Man Who Came From Ummo.
The Monsters of Terror, released theatrically in Germany in 1970, in Spain in 1971, and shown on American late night television starting in 1973, stars English born movie star Michael Rennie (best remembered as the friendly alien Klaatu from the classic 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still) as Doctor Warnoff, an alien from a dying world who is leading an invasion of planet Earth. Warnoff, on orders from his superiors back on planet Ummo, reincarnates various people and monsters to help in his invasion.
The story is a quit a bit muddy on exactly what Warnoff’s “reincarnation” comprises. His first two victims are dead human doctors, Maleva (German actress Karin Dor) and Kerian (Spanish actor Angel de Pozo). In the case of these two, the human is dead, the body reanimated with the minds, apparently, of aliens but memories and emotions of the humans. But Warnoff (Micheal Rennie) also captures several other humans and it is unclear if they are alive and brainwashed or dead and reanimated.
Warnoff and his minions then set about gathering Earth’s most feared monsters. They find the skeleton of the Vampire Count Janos de Mialhoff at a carnival. They remove the wooden stake and the Vampire fleshes out. Next up is the Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. The minions recover his body from his crypt, surgically remove a silver bullet from his heart and he wakes up. The minions then go to Egypt to find the Mummy Tao-Tet whom they uncover and control with a mystical mirror. Their final monster is Farancksalan’s (aka Frankenstein’s) Monster. There was also supposed to be a Golem as well as “whole segments of the script involving flying saucers” but “financial difficulties” interrupted filming and forced them to par down the film.
- The Mummy
- The Frankenstein Monster
- Fu Manchu
- The Hunchback
- A Warlock
- A Zombie
- A Medieval Inquisitor
- A serial killer
- A Werewolf
In fact, Werewolves were Paul Naschy’s favorite childhood monster and he played a Werewolf in 15 different films. Legendary film star Lon Chaney, Jr. only played a Werewolf seven times. In 1968, Paul wrote a screenplay about a Polish Werewolf named Waldemar Daninsky (La Marca del Hombre Lobo aka The Mark of the Wolfman). Paul never intended to portray his Werewolf but his producers could not find an actor they liked so they turned to Paul to play the part. Paul was able to take this role and spin off 11 film sequels as well as a successful acting / directing career for himself.
Paul Naschy’s Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky movies are not really a related series. Each of the movies is more or less a stand alone film (there is some overlap on a few of the films) while all use the same name of Waldemar Daninsky. The origins of Waldemar’s lycanthropy even differs from film to film. Los Monstruos del Terror aka The Monsters of Terror was, chronologically, the third Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky film. Besides the 12 Waldemar films, Paul Naschy also played a different Werewolf in 3 other films.
The Internet Archive has two versions of our film The Monsters of Terror aka Assignment Terror aka Dracula vs. Frankenstein. The most popular version is full screen. The other version is widescreen. The full screen version is missing about six minutes, most of which involve an aborted Werewolf attack on a girl waiting in a car (character Ilsa played by actress Patty Sheppard, soon to be love interest for our determined Inspector Tobermann, played by Craig Hill) and a successful attack on another girl and also some scenes of swinging 60’s singles in a bar. These missing scenes belong about 20 minutes into the film.
Both versions of the film have pros and cons. I watched the full screen version because the huge black borders for the widescreen version drove me batty. But the widescreen version appears to have better and brighter color and also does not look as dark as the full screen. Also the full screen version is very jumpy and abrupt in places throughout the movie. I did not watch the widescreen version all the way through so I am not sure if it is also as jumpy. It was not, in the places that I did watch.
The sound is pretty decent if glaringly 1960’s in music style. The full screen version did jump a bit right on our hero, Inspector Tobermann’s, final speech but it is easy enough to understand what he is saying (Spoilers! I’ll print the Inspector’s speech at the end of my favorite bits of dialogue for fans who are curious).
Here is some dialogue from the movie that struck my fancy:
- Warnoff states the mission, “Remember, success of mission depends on exploiting to the full the suspicions prevalent among the Earth creatures.”
- Warnoff really likes his eye candy minions, “Beautiful women are like powerful magnets. We shall use them to attract scientists, generals, statesmen, their vital secrets.”
- The Superintendent gives Inspector Tobermann his orders, “As you can see, Henry, I’m completely snowed under with paperwork. Why don’t you see what you can dig up for me.” “Right, sir!” replies Tobermann. The Superintendent cautions, “But don’t bring any vampires into this office!” “Why not?” “I’m anemic already,” snaps the Superintendent.
- Warnoff admires his eye candy again, “The first of a group of beautiful women who will blindly obey my orders.”
- Dr. Maleva is worried, “Do you think human beings can become contaminated if his blood (the vampire) is injected into their veins?” “We’ll soon find out,” assures Warnoff.
- Warnoff explains how to kill the Werewolf, “His death is permanent only if the bullet is fired by a woman who loves him enough to die for him.”
- Maleva is confused, “Is he man or monster?”
- Warnoff is upset at his minions, “Pity is a weakness. Do not forget it.”
- Warnoff warns Dr. Maleva, “There’s one danger we must guard against. We are occupying the bodies of Earth people, creatures of a planet much younger than ours. Feelings and emotions are very strong. They’re impulsive and unpredictable. We must be constantly on our guard. We must always maintain our own personalities. Our superior minds must at all times be in complete control.” Maleva mutters sullenly, “It was just a moment of weakness.” Warnoff continues, “In this world, wars have been lost and empires destroyed through moments of weakness. The Mummy (stabs Mummy) is our ideal. His heart is dried up. It doesn’t feel, doesn’t live, doesn’t beat. He walks and obeys.”
- Maleva warns Warnoff, “You, yourself, have become contaminated.”
- Dr. Maleva questions Warnoff, “Do you think of me as an enemy?” Warnoff is too smug, “No. You’re an individual under my domination. Which is quite different from being an enemy.”
- Inspector Tobermann gives a final speech, “While there are men willing to sacrifice themselves for others nothing will destroy us.”
I liked the appearance and character of some of the monsters but some not so much. The Werewolf Waldemar Daninsky (actor Paul Naschy) has a good classic Werewolf look. His human version doesn’t say much but manages to emote the usual remorse and horror. But his romance with the blond haired female minion is ridiculous. They’ve known each other five minutes but suddenly her love is strong enough to free him? Not believing it. But I was believing that he was ready to fight the other monsters to help save the world.
Vampire Count Janus de Mialhoff (actor Manuel de Blas) was a big disappointment. Vampires are my personal favorite monsters. But not this one. His look is just plain stupid. Apparently his fangs are permanently in attack mode so he is completely unable to close his mouth. He looks like a catfish trying to suck up any stray blood floating in the air. His character is also weak. He has no problem hypnotizing sleeping girls but wave a wooden stake in his direction and he immediately backs off. There is no sign of superhuman strength or speed so he is a big wimp.
Tao-Tet the Mummy (actor Gene Reyes) is a mixed bag. At first I was put off by the fact that his face is uncovered. But I actually grew to like that look. It was different but kind of cool. But his movements were stiff as a board. Literally. When he waved his arms about he looked like he could not bend his elbows at all. I think they wrapped him up too tight in the bandages. He was also, like the Vampire, a very wimpy character. Wave a torch in his direction and he immediately backs off. When he does fight, his stiffness makes him unable to do much of anything but windmill around until he falls over. No strength because he can’t grab anything. Just a big disappointment.
Poor Michael Rennie, as the alien Warnoff, does not have a plan with much chance of success. His off-planet masters are not very helpful (and their psychedelic look on the view screens was rather silly) and his human-ish minions keep getting sidelined by human emotions. At least the girl minions were not completely brainless. Sure, they are eye candy and Warnoff makes it plain that that is their main function, but the girls actually have stuff to do. Doctor Maleva confers with Warnoff, helps during operations, almost gets hypnotized and ravished, falls in love, and repeatedly does little rebellious acts against Warnoff. The blond girl minion (name unknown) is first a carnival worker than a minion. She falls for the Werewolf and gets punished. She escapes but comes back with a gun for the finale. On the other hand, the Inspector’s love interest, Ilsa, doesn’t have much to do but flirt and look pretty and be scared. No, none of these bits of pretty cheesecake can even begin to compare to the Black Widow (actress Scarlett Johansson) when it comes to kicking butt, but they are not completely blank mannequins either.
Of course, the very best thing about our Halloween Monster movie, The Monsters of Terror aka Assignment Terror, is that it is FREE in the Public Domain at the Internet Archive.
full screen version.
Please click this link to go to the second version. This is the widescreen version.
*One word of caution: Movie fans who are interested enough to look up other movies by actor Paul Naschy should be careful. While I have not watched other Naschy movies, I have read enough descriptions, looked at enough posters, and seen enough photos to suspect that some of his movies are graphic both sexually and violently. Younger movie fans should be ware*