Well I'll be a son of a wolf bitch -- I missed a big werewolf movie from 1981. Granted, it's not a big budget American feature, but Paul Naschy, El Hombre Lobo himself, is nothing to sneeze at.
Night of the Werewolf - 1981
Written & Directed by Paul Naschy
Back in May when I did my feature on the Monster Mash-ups, I devoted an entire entry to El Hombre Lobo, Spanish actor and sometime writer & director Paul Naschy who played a werewolf in more than a dozen films. His work was a new discovery for me at the time and I was only able to watch one of his films before finishing the feature. Since that time, from the reading I'd done, I've suspected that he, to one extent or another, had made the same movie (albeit remixed) several times throughout his career. That would appear to have been a somewhat accurate impression.
Daninsky rescues the women from some swarthy robbers/rapists and grants them shelter in his castle. One will fall in love with Waldemar. One will raise Elizabeth Bathory and become a vampire herself, and one, well, it takes blood to raise the countess, so...
Meanwhile, Waldemar can't help but roam around the countryside mauling anyone he finds by the light of the full moon. He doesn't even eat them, just kills on sight. While he frequently advises his beloved to lock herself in on the nights of the full moon, it seems a little irresponsible that he isn't locking himself in. He at least made a token effort toward this in the previous version.
It turns out that Daninsky was enslaved to Bathory through witchcraft, all those centuries ago, and she manipulated him to kill on her behalf -- although it seems that he was still a werewolf, so he was going to be killing anyway. At any rate, he's free of her now and determined to prevent her from coming into her full power again, which evidently would unleash Hell on Earth. However, to finally be freed of his curse, he will need someone who loves him to kill him with the silver dagger, thus assuring that he will not rise again. Much of the werewolf lore is fairly faithful to the extended lore built up for Lon Chaney's Wolf Man, and indeed Naschy's Hombre Lobo makeup strongly resembles the hairy human face approach taken by the 1941 original. Naschy, however, plays him much snarlier with considerable commitment, and drools water like a six-month-old.
Kill-kill-kill, fight-fight-fight, burn-burn-burn; die... The End.
For as much action as there is, there's still a lot of time in the first couple acts where not enough is happening. The story could be greatly streamlined, which would actually make it more effective. I am, however, forced to recognize that my expectations as a 21st century moviegoer are considerably less patient and more demanding of gratification than Naschy's audience. It's really pretty satisfying in terms of creepy cool monster moments in a pre-Howling/American Werewolf sort of way. The coolest monster is neither the wolf nor the vampires, but Bathory's skeletal knight bodyguard who gets more screen time here than he did in Noche de Walpurgis, but still gets hustled in and out far too quickly for my tastes. The final fight between Bathory and Daninsky mostly involves a lot of pushing and shoving, about which I really don't have a point other than that I'm already imagining how I would retell this story in a film with all the modern conveniences.
Night of the Werewolf is really a pretty good b-flick. I feel a little bit bad even calling it a b-movie when it comes from a different cultural context, although that's how it would have been released stateside. While I don't recommend it for everyone, it's really not a bad time at all for someone interested in going a little deeper into cinematic werewolf lore or the scope of horror history.