Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt (2004) Poster

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Excellent historical werewolf movie
Teknofobe701 May 2005
If you're one of those people who quite enjoyed "La Pacte des Loups" (Brotherhood of the Wolf) a few years back but were left disappointed by some of the more ridiculous historical inaccuracies, then you might want to take a look at Romasanta.

The story of Manuel Blanco Romasanta is quite a well known one in Spain. It happened in the mid-nineteenth century, when a string of violent deaths took place which seemed in some ways like animal attacks, and in others like cold and calculated murder. Eventually a man was arrested -- Manuel Romasanta, and it was found that he used the body fat from his victims to make soap. At his trial he claimed that he became a werewolf, and that it is the nature of a wolf to kill. He was diagnosed with the psychological condition of lycanthropy, and given a life sentence rather than death.

The film itself is based largely on truth, partly on speculation and partly on pure invention for artistic purposes. It's certainly a lot closer to the truth than "Brotherhood of the Wolf" was, anyway. One character is knowingly invented, and some rather unlikely theories are put forward in the place of that which is unknown, but the question of whether or not Romasanta was actually a werewolf is left completely open. Paco Plaza appears to be a competent and innovative director, and the style of the film is really superb. It is quite slow moving, and arguably it's rather light on actual story and plot, but that's about as far as the criticism goes.

There are several great performances, but the standout comes from Julian Sands as the title character, who submerges himself in the role in the way that only outstanding actors can. John Sharian is also very good as the misguided, haunted 'partner' of Romasanta, and both Gary Piquer and David Gant are memorable in supporting roles as those who finally bring the murderer to justice. It also features Elsa Pataky as the leading heroine, who has become a huge sex symbol in Spain and it isn't hard to see why -- think along the lines of a Spanish Keira Knightley.

This is the finest historical werewolf film I've ever seen, and any self-respecting werewolf buff should take a look, but unfortunately there's not much chance of this one being a blockbuster.
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"Romasanta is not a man"
Cat-Squire13 February 2005
'Romasanta' tells the chilling tale of Manuel Blanco Romasanta, known murderer of 15 people (although confessing to murdering many more) and how he charms women before killing them brutally like a wolf. When we are introduced to Romasanta a wolf backs away in fear from him, and this saves the life of the heroine Bárbera. Romasanta is going with Bárbera's sister and they leave Bárbera behind to go to another town to secure a place to live and a home, running in fear of the wolves that have been killing the town folk. On the way to the new town, Romasanta kills his 'girlfriend' and her daughter and then returns to seduce Bárbera. She suspects that Romasanta has killed her sister and niece and sets out to have justice brought to him.

Julian Sands (Romasanta) is excellent in this chilling Gothic tale, portraying the character with such eerie class that makes the film as good as it is. This is no ordinary werewolf movie, it is a psychological thriller, looking at the mind-set of a man suffering from lycanthropy, making him turn mentally to a beast but making him feel the physicality of it.

All in all, an excellent Gothic tale, a new take on werewolf movies and I would say that it is better than most films involving werewolves. What's more, it is based on real events. Excellently filmed and acted, especially by Julian Sands. Definitely worth watching. From me, 9/10.

Cat §quire
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The gothic movie of the year
albertovazquez6 May 2004
I've seen the movie at the Malaga Festival, Spain. It's one of the BEST GOTHIC STORIES OF ALL TIMES. It's a peculiar mixture between The Silent of the Lambs and Sleepy Hollow or From Hell. It's more than a normal horror werewolf movie. Much more. It's a story where gothic meets romance, where horror meets love, where documentary meets fairytale. Yes. 'cause this is a TRUE STORY!!! Manuel Blanco Romasanta is one of the most intriguing serial killers of all times. He was judged in Spain in 1852. having confessed the killing of at least 13 people, he dared proclaim his innocence: he was not guilty because he was a werewolf! The thing I liked most is the way the authors introduce us in a REAL FAIRYTALE. I don't find other words to describe this story. it's fantasy and reality at the same time. It's like to be at the same time in a chapter of CSI and in the tale of Red Riding Hood. We experience this adventure from the point of view of Barbara, the woman who falls in love with Manuel Romasanta and who progressively changes her love into rage.. The arc of the character is so well developed, that the identification with her is complete. We do feel the same love and the same hatred that Barbara felt towards Manuel. Another strong point of the movie is the cast. and moreover the female roles. The actresses who play Barbara and her sister Maria are superb. I really enjoyed the way they expressed their arena. Finally, last but not least, I do suggest to keep an eye on this young director: Paco Plaza. Believe me, he's a TRUE GENIUS.
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Highly engrossing horror-mystery and based on facts
ma-cortes15 August 2011
1851 Galicia , an uproar is caused when some mutilated cadavers are discovered. Wolves plague the forests. People are disappearing. The mutilated cadavers present precise surgical cuts along with savage gashes ,giving way to the legend of the "Werewolf of Allariz". A traveling vendor (Julian Sands) along with his wife (Maru Valdivieso) and daughter rolls through the forest in his old wagon. A woman from every village on his route faithfully awaits him. He's attractive, intelligent, charming.... But he's also the monster feared by all. His most recent prey, Barbara (Elsa Pataky) will soon become the one who hunts him down .

This exciting terror picture displays drama , action, suspense, with mysterious touches and is quite entertaining . The frightening story begins well and grows more and more until a downbeat finale. It's some different containing Galicia legends and actual events but with clear reference to previous werewolves films . Good performances from Julian Sands as traveling seller who hides a terrible secret and Elsa Pataky as unfortunate victim who seeks vengeance . The transformation of man into werewolf is complex and is made by expert make-up artist with no computer generator FX .The writers provide a well-knit plot with mystery and horror, giving full rein to Paco Plaza natural talent for the terror genre . Colorful cinematography by Javier Salmones and atmospheric musical score by Mikel Salas fitted perfectly to suspense action .The flick is finely produced by the chairman of Filmax and Castelao Productions , Julio Fernandez who along with his brother Carlos Fernandez are two successful producers and experts on Horror genre , producers of hits as ¨The machinist¨ ,¨ Fragiles¨, ¨Darkness¨, and many others. The picture is professionally directed by Paco Plaza (Second name, OT) who along with by Jaume Balaguero are the main Spanish filmmakers expert on terror cinema , both of whom have realized the box-office big successes as ¨Rec 1¨ and ¨Rec 2¨ , among others . It's a standard terror and sometimes graphically gory and turns out to be an acceptable attempt to cash in the werewolf sub-genre. Rating : 6,5 Good .

The film is based on the true-life story of Manuel Blanco Romasanta, the traveling vendor, who confessed to the murders of thirteen people, using their body fat to make soap. Romasanta was tried in Allaríz in 1852 and avoided capital punishment by proclaiming he was a werewolf. Barbara was the lone survivor of four sisters . He obtained pardon to death penalty by queen Isabel II but was condemned life penalty . He died in prison .
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Good - though marred by an ugly historical inaccuracy
MightyTiny3 June 2006
An interesting story, with good acting, well told. Good direction, visually appealing, atmospheric.

However, scientifically, and/or historically literate viewers will find one nagging, glaring blunder; at one point in this story, which is supposed to be set in the mid 19th century, there is a reference to a person being controlled "by his genes". Come on! The term "gene" wasn't even proposed until half a century later, and additionally, around mid 19th century the mechanism of inheritance was entirely unknown; Mendel's work lay undiscovered until early 20th century, and even Mendel didn't use the word "gene" (so it couldn't have been a case of some exceptionally insightful scientist having discovered the term in some ).

That sort of a slip may not seem much, but for someone aware of this history, it does brake the illusion of an authentic world in which the events are set, making it harder to enjoy the movie. I'm surprised that anybody reviewing the script didn't pick up on it... but then again, the state of scientific literacy among filmmakers is often abysmal. In a movie set in a historical period, accuracy should be more of a priority though, I think.

The story proceeds almost languidly, punctuated by moments of violence and terror; perhaps too slow for most horror fans to appreciate, and those who do appreciate the subtlety are likely to be bothered by the "gene" mishap. The score is beautiful, and lighting is used to good effect; the combination makes for a visually and auditorily pleasing experience.

Perhaps because of how the movie is portrayed as a werewolf movie, the people who might best enjoy it, aren't likely to see it, and the people expecting a traditional supernatural horror movie might feel a bit let down.

In conclusion, Romasanta is a movie not as good as it could have been, and somewhat misleadingly advertised on the cover, but well worth seeing nonetheless. I was torn between 7 or 8 stars, and decided to be generous. :)
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Good Werewolf Romance Based on a True Story
claudio_carvalho18 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In 1852, in Galicia, Spain, the traveling vendor Manuel Blanco Romasanta is tried for the murder of at least fifteen persons. He claims to be the ninth son of a family and therefore a werewolf, and Queen Isabel II changes his death sentence to life. Once in prison, he dies for unknown cause.

First of all, I would like to tell that I am not writing a spoiler: most of this information is on the box of the Brazilian DVD and in many reviews. I believe the lack of mystery with the lead character, i.e., the viewer knows who is the killer before watching the film, is the greatest flaw in this screenplay. The story is great, recalling "La Pacte des Loups"; the cinematography and effects are wonderful; and Julian Sands and Elsa Pataky have excellent performances and chemistry, with the story centered in their romance first, and in the rage of Bárbara for Romasanta later. However, I have never heard about this Romasanta, and the writer used fictional and historical events to write this story, with elements of horror and romance. I believe he could have kept the mystery about Romasanta, disclosing his crimes only in the end. Anyway, this movie is original and very attractive and really worth watching. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Romasanta – A Casa da Besta" ("Romasanta – The House of the Beast")
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Very interesting
Ridickulo14 January 2006
If we are to look upon the latest in supernatural movies, such as "Van Helsing", then i would have to say that "Romasanta" is way above them. Right from the start of the movie, one is never given the full story so the viewer is compelled to watch wanting to find out what is going on. The movie does this very well and even when the story unfolds, the emotional state of the characters is still not certain. One stays until the very end to find out. I supposed that some viewers will be disappointed because it is not an action movie, far from it. The movie is a slow, sometimes shocking, part drama part crime story which never excels in any of them. It does however hit the spot with a very grabbing story which is really much better than most of what's been seen lately.
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Polished and well crafted, but not typical of the werewolf genre
JHC32 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The review that follows contains what might be considered to be spoilers. Though the identity of the killer is not kept secret by the filmmakers, some viewers might want it to be something of a surprise.

A killer is at large in northern Spain in 1851. Beginning in 1847, he has murdered and mutilated more than a dozen people, mostly women and children. The police manage to cover up most of the killings out of a desire to prevent public panic.

The killer is a traveling vendor, Manuel Blanco Romasanta (Sands). He uses his superior interpersonal skills and his understanding of human nature to insinuate himself into the lives of prospective victims. Some are killed almost immediately while others unknowingly live within his clutches for weeks. Romasanta is thoroughly insane. Believing himself to be a werewolf, some of his assaults superficially appear to be wolf attacks. The authorities even go so far as to place a bounty on wolves even though they know the culprit is all-too-human. A break in the case comes in the form of young Barbára Garcia (Pataky). She strikes up a relationship with Romasanta only to soon realize he is responsible for the disappearances (and probable murders) of her sister and niece. Barbára's sense of vengeance helps move the police onto a course that might apprehend the monstrous Romasanta.

The film is very well crafted, featuring excellent costumes, props, and shooting locations. It is definitely not what many viewers might expect. Though it is superficially a werewolf film, it is really a serial killer film in the tradition of Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Se7en (1995). Viewers expecting an action-packed horror film will be disappointed. The filmmakers focus on drama, character development, and mystery. The crimes are gruesome and there are elements of horror, but the result is really more of a crime mystery. The performances are good and the cadaver effects are convincing.

The film's slow pacing is perhaps its weakest point. Many viewers will not find this to be a problem, but others will find it to be dull. Overall, I recommend this for mystery lovers. Those looking for something like The Howling (1981) or An American Werewolf in London (1981) should probably look elsewhere.
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A slow-moving yet gripping horror- "Ginger Snaps" for adults
instigate_insanity17 July 2006
The creature is not a large one. At first glance, it doesn't even seem to be anything more than an ordinary dog.

But then you look closer. The wolf's mouth is larger than that of an ordinary dog, the teeth packed more densely together within. The wolf's eyes gleam a sickly yellow colour, and a vicious snarl augments the drool flowing from its mouth.

The creature leaps at you with supernatural speed and strength. Its front paws knock you flat on your back, and you feel the freezing earth soaking through your shirt, the full moon gleaming down like a cruel eye, watching you.

The wolf doesn't bother with a killing wound; it just begins to tear chunks of flesh from your stomach, ignoring your agonized screams. It will be a long, long time before your body loses all feeling, and everything goes dark.

Manuel Romasanta was a traveling merchant and salesman in the mid eighteen hundreds, who, at some point, went completely and utterly insane. He believed himself to be a werewolf, a man who would assume the form of an unnaturally large and brutal wolf whenever the moon was full. Manifesting from this belief was the need to kill, and so kill he did, some sixteen or more people, chosen completely at random, no discrimination. He would slaughter them, devour them and then leave the bodies for others to find.

There have been so many movies made that have been based on the lives of serial killers- Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, etc. It seemed a mere matter of time until they dredged up this psychopath from the history books and immortalized him through film.

But, of course, being set in the time that it is, and under the circumstances through which the events surrounding the case unfolded, they couldn't have been content merely to make a slasher/thriller sort of thing documenting the life of a serial killer. No, they had to turn it into a werewolf movie.

And what a fantastic werewolf movie it turned out to be. I was expecting the sorts of cheesy werewolf effects that we saw in such movies as "Dog Soldiers" and "Underworld" (although to tell you the truth, I enjoyed both of those movies, solely for the action content in them). But groundless were all my fears, for as the movie progresses it becomes increasingly clear that this is not your usual, run-of-the-mill type of werewolf crap, with Romasanta assuming the form of a proper wolf when he transforms. Rather than "Dog Soldiers", it portrays itself more as being along the lines of "Ginger Snaps", with much the same sort of tragic tale at the heart of it.

As with seemingly all new-age horror movies, even those done in an older sort of style (such as this one), there is a love story at the heart of the movie. However, true to the bizarre nature of this movie, it is not a happy tale of love that unfolds, rather a twisted tragedy in which neither side comes off any better than the other. For those of you who possess something like a twisted romanticism, I tell you now not to miss this one, you'll regret it if you do.

I've already told you basically all you need to know about the story of this movie, and I'm not going to ruin all the twists and turns of the movie so as to spoil your viewing enjoyment. Just be sure not to miss this one, especially if you liked "Ginger Snaps".
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Not your run of the mill werewolf movie...
cynkat13 August 2006
I really liked this movie. This is not a B movie, although the title is rather hokey. I like the original title better, but on the other hand it might not have piqued my interest if it hadn't had "werewolf" in the title! It is a horror story and a love story. The acting is above average and the cinematography is absolutely beautiful. The story is somewhat based on a true story about a man tried and imprisoned for 15 murders in 19th century Spain. His defense was that he was in fact, a werewolf and had no control over himself once he transformed. The murders are quite gruesome. The few scenes of animal abuse disturbed me more, but that's just me.

If you love the genre as I do, this movie is worth watching.
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lycanthrope or just plain crazy?
Prof-Hieronymos-Grost23 February 2009
The Spanish countryside is being plagued by a series of gruesome killings, which gives rise to the legend of The Werewolf of Allariz. Local officials decide to pay for all wolves in the area to be culled, but this doesn't stop the killings. Barbara (Elsa Pataky) a beautiful young girl, begins to suspect her sister's lover. Romasanta (Julian Sands) might be the culprit, only problem is there is a raging sexual chemistry between them, but after her sister and niece disappear, Barbara decides she must act. Romasanta comes clean before a court, that he is in fact a wolf who takes the guise of a man to seduce his victims, is he a wolf or just a psychotic killer? Romasanta is a beautifully filmed period drama, that explores more the myth of the killings than lycantrophy. Those expecting wolf men will be disappointed, but those who like a good story and terrors that are for the most part only alluded to, will enjoy this one. In that regard its very much in the vein of Pacte de Loups. Sands is cleverly cast, his lupine looks adding to the myth, Pataky also provides some nice eye candy.
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It was the wolf what done it.
BA_Harrison27 June 2013
Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt is based on the true story of Manuel Blanco Romasanta, Spain's first documented serial killer, who claimed at his trial that he was not responsible for the numerous murders he committed since he was suffering from a curse that turned him into a wolf (always worth a go, I suppose).

The film takes place in 1851, in a rural Spanish community where there has been a spate of deadly attacks, presumably by wolves. Travelling salesman Manuel Romasanta (played by the very English Julian Sands, who makes zero attempt at an accent) arrives in the area to visit his girlfriend Maru Valdivielso, who shares her home with her rather lovely sister Bárbara (Elsa Pataky) and their young deaf niece Teresa (Luna McGill).

Seemingly concerned for their safety, Manuel offers to escort Maria and Teresa to Santander, but the girls never make it to their destination, their charming travelling companion attacking them in the forest, believing himself to be a lycanthrope—a man who can transform into a wolf. When Manuel returns to Bárbara, he seduces the unsuspecting woman, but is unable to hide the truth for very long…

With its mid-19th century European setting, ambiguous werewolf plot, and stunning visuals, Romasanta reminded me a lot of Christophe Gans' The Brotherhood of the Wolf; but like that film, Romasanta suffers from a plodding and slightly confusing narrative, one that makes matters hard going, even despite a few genuinely twisted moments involving sticks in eyes and the removal of body fat, a fairly decent transformation scene, and the sight of Pataky in a tin bath having her breasts soaped up by Sands.
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A good movie for a rainy night
ttandb31 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this film the other day after buying it on spec, mainly because I am a big Julian Sands fan and usually pay little attention to critics. I have to say please don't be put off by other comments on here - this is an okay film for a rainy evening, and certainly nowhere near as bad as others say.

I'm not sure I've put any spoilers as such in from this point, but better to be safe than sorry:

Julian Sands is quite good as the main protagonist of the title, he tends to keep you guessing as to his true motives towards Barbra; and after his murders his more mundane every day actions are all the more chilling as you feel, knowing what you do as the viewer, you're almost an accomplice because you can't tell other characters what he's done. The fact it's based on a true story is also a plus point.

It was a fairly good film; solid and with good performances. The best was from David Gant as Professor Philips, a brilliant actor and very compelling in all the films I've seen him in. However, this role in particular was great as the methods used back then to discern someone's reason for being a criminal are now laughable, but they took them so seriously; he certainly carried the character perfectly and made him utterly believable.

Anyway, worth a look if you see it around - be warned though, it's quite gory in places; with rotting corpses and the like, so not to be watched if you're easily sickened or if the kids are about.
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Also worth watching for Elsa Pataky
neutrino-317 February 2005
First of all our friend Mike is absolutely right about Elsa. I definitely recommend it, even if just to watch this goddess. :D

Nevertheless I think you (Mike) should try to watch it again. Preferently not during Frightfest. The photography is quite good, and the landscape and historic placement are very good. The script is not really dense. But I think great films are made out of details and photography, and not out of phenomenal scripts.

My "8" may be overvalued. I couldn't help. I love Galicia. I'm just disappointed with the fact the film is not spoken in Galego, but rather in English. I would give it "7". The bonus is for encouragement.

If you liked this try to watch this short: "I'll see you in my dreams".

Até à próxima.
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Werewolf Hunter:The Legend of Romasanta
Scarecrow-8831 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A wolf becomes man to seduce and kill female victims in Allariz. Romasanta(Julian Sands)goes on record in front of a jury of his peers and the court proclaiming himself a werewolf. Almost all of Romasanta's conquests were not of anything remotely human until he falls in love with Bárbara(Elsa Pataky, a stunning beauty), the sister of his wife and mute child. When Romasanta kills his wife, María(Maru Valdivielso)and mute child Teresa(Luna McGill), Bárbara seeks him out after being seduced herself by him. Joining forces with DA Bastida(Bary Piquer)they are on the hunt to find him before more and more lives are taken by the wolf. With help by Antonio(John Sharian), someone bitten and controlled by Romasanta, they might just be able to find him. Professor Philips(David Grant is a persuasive doctor who proclaims that Romasanta is not responsible for the killer impulses the wolf brings out.

Handsome production and great photography help the flick which doesn't produce the goods in werewolf transformations, instead opting for being a historical document on a serial killer stating on record he is a werewolf who can not help but kill when the beast comes out to play. The acting is adequate and there are a few brief moments of violence, but many viewers wanting a full-fledged creature feature with gory attacks will be disappointed, perhaps even bored. But, the film is well made and visually sumptuous. Just don't expect blood and guts.
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Werewolf of Allariz
Reaper-of-Souls3 September 2013
I must say that this was better than expected. It helps if you do some research on the Tallow Man himself, Manuel Blanco Romasanta, before watching. That way you know not to expect a traditional werewolf film. ROMASANTA is more of a drama/biography/thriller. It tells the tale of a traveling salesman/serial killer/self-professed wolf from Spain in the mid 1800s. There are a bit of facts either left out or just completely wrong in the film, but it is still worth the watch. Like I said, I do recommend reading about the actual case first though. And if you don't like reading, all I can say is don't expect a straight-up werewolf horror story and you should enjoy it.
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Lackluster and dull
tomobedlam27 August 2011
In the desperate hunt to find a werewolf film of any standing discovered Romasanta. Unfortunately it seems i've wasted over two hours on a movie which had the feel of a bad TV history re-enactment drama. My housemate and fellow viewer pointed out a variety of continuity errors. We agreed that It's poorly acted, scripted, dull and drags like a dog with worms drags his arse across the carpet. I can't submit this review without writing ten lines but I really don't know what to say anymore, apart from we yawned a bit and stared at the wall a few times. We discussed how clapping originated, looked at his new shoes that he'd purchased online and how there aren't many good werewolf films, which is a shame.

But really I wouldn't bother watching this if I were you.
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Hey, it's a werewolf! Only without fur. Or teeth...
ninjas-r-cool18 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Supernatural tales that are "based on a true story" tend to bother me. Basically because "based on a true story" actually means it's based on a screenwriter's idea that's based on Chinese whispers that are based on speculative initial reports that are based on superstition. Someone's house creaks and a century later I'm watching balls like An American Haunting. But I was keen to see Romasanta anyway for 2 big reasons. One: It's based on a true story of a werewolf that killed 13 people and we all know that, unlike ghosts, werewolves are real. Two: It's directed by Paco Plaza and I just love movies made by Mexican shopping centres.

To be honest, this one didn't really hold my attention at all so I'll be brief. It's very nicely shot with some lush scenery and a good sense of time and place. There's not a whole lot of blood which is surprising considering it's a period piece **badum-tish**, but there are some good gruesome aftermath shots of corpses shown in various states of post-slaughter rest. One of these moments even shows some dead 15 year old boobs, so any depraved perverts reading should check it out for that part alone. Also includes a few bits of violence toward children and animals which is always welcome on my TV.

Now to the things I didn't like. I don't generally mind when actors play the role of a character not of their own country. I like Sean Connery in The Untouchables, even though he sounds less Irish than I do. But British actors playing Spaniards? Julian Sands is a decent actor, but you know what he isn't? He isn't Senor Manuel Blanco Romasanta and he never will be. Hearing someone who's as quintessentially English as the Queen (the parts of her that aren't French or German anyway) repeatedly referred to as "Senor" is just silly.

Also, I was kind of in the mood for werewolves and the werewolf parts are brief. Really it's just the story of some douchebag murderer. So I suppose the film's title is accurate, as long as the subscript 'The Werewolf Hunt' was intended as Cockney rhyming slang...
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Not really a werewolf movie but more of a 1852 serial killing thriller
joe-davis2 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a sucker for werewolf movies and when I saw the DVD cover of Werewolf Hunter; that and its' title had me picking it up ASAP! I read the back and knew then that it wasn't a straight up werewolf movie but it still sounded interesting so I got it.

The movie is based on true events of a serial killer named Romasanta. He was caught tried for killing 15 people in 1852. He claimed to have hunted them down as a wolf (werewolf) and had hunted many times with a man called Anonia who was also a werewolf. Blah, blah, blah, he was sentence to life instead of death and died in captivity.

Now the movie takes a different approach to the the above events but most of the characters are there... Romasanta and Anonia. I was afraid the movie would try to trick you into thinking he was really a werewolf or leave you with questions but it didn't. It took you through a nice recreation of the original events with some decent added story.

If you like horror thrillers...not a bad rent!
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A very underrated horror turns out to be a work of art.
mailingmaster7 May 2007
Is this a horror or a psychological thriller? To me this is a curious study of lust, betrayal and death. The "true story" is often abused term in movie-making. Only, this time there is no abuse, just artistic freedom. Enjoy amazing scenery of a Spain in 1800's and the symbolic details that all have their meaning: the hands, the birds, the nails. The horror is there but in a subtle form and the visuals are very delicate. However, it seems to me that a lot of horror fans are put off by the fact that this movie is a slow-paced one. Yes, it might not scare you even once but it doesn't matter. This time you will be absorbed by the story with amazing visuals and strong cast that turn this movie into a work of art. If you want something unique as an underrated horror movie worth using for studies of photography look no further. Based on that fact alone it's worth 9 out of 10.
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Brutal Lycanthropy Serial Killer in XIX century Galicia, Spain
montferrato6 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It is a decent movie, based on a still popular and true story, very well known in northern Spain nowadays. Manuel Blanco Romasanta actually existed. Romasanta was a short man, somehow effeminate, able to get on well with women due to his harmless appearance. He was not a Casanova, but the guy that women would go with to a dark place without suspicion because he looked not dangerous. He had a feline cunning, and was able to deceive many women into travel with him. His method was always the same: Romasanta always approached widows, abandoned wives and young girls looking for a change and betterment in life. He offered women from the most depressed mountain villages of Galicia a better life in the big cities of the north, where they could find better jobs and good suitors for marriage. Then, while traveling with him in the mountains, he assaulted and murdered the women with a surprisingly strong frenzy and brutality. He also skinned the women and took their fat in order to make soap that he sold in some villages of the Spanish/Portuguese border, and made an assorted collection of jewels, rings, pendants, etc, stolen from their victims. He was convicted by 15-17 murders, but the final death toll could have been higher, as he roamed free for years killing at will and with impunity. When he was caught by the police, he told the judges and court that he was the victim of a curse, and that he couldn't help transform himself into a wolf and kill. Nobody believed him and he was sentenced to death. However, a certain French "Professor" called Monsieur Philipps(nowadays would be considered a total quack and nut-job) sent a letter to the Queen of Spain explaining that Lycanthropy was a mind disease, and the Queen commuted Romasanta's death sentence for a life sentence without possibility of parole. Galicia is a small region of northern Spain, located in the northwest, and bordering with Portugal in the South. It is a very interesting area, the "Spanish Transylvania" if you want. There is a very rich folklore, and Lycanthropy has been diagnosed to several people in the area by doctors, as some people believe they are wolves or behave in a canine or lupine way. The movie is OK, but missed a lot of potential. If this story were filmed with a big budget, better screenplay and were given a different approach, we could be talking now of a masterpiece, as all the ingredients are there: only true story of lycanthropy recorded in an European legal system, mysterious land with dark forests and primitive medieval cities, etc. It all has a taste of authenticity. All in all, pretty decent movie, but not a masterpiece. Pity, because it could have been. Lots of missed potential in this movie.
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Dull early film from a now noteworthy director
HEFILM5 January 2013
Hard to see that this director would one day make the exceptional REC and it's pretty good sequels. But perhaps there are some sparks of seriousness here.

This is a big improvement over the previously Brian Yuzna produced Spainish made dog related film I saw (the god awful Rotweiler), this is still little more than a above average production value TV movie. The film has no real focus and it's mostly about characters rather than action or horror so this is a big problem. There is no devotion to making it actually scary and though the actors might be up to the challenge they aren't given much to do. Perhaps should be mentioned that several real birds and wolves seem to have been killed to make this film as well, an always questionable thing to do. Or maybe this is just really well done makeup work in which case extra credit is due.

There is a transformation scene that is kinda interesting, though it focuses on a wolf turning into a man rather than the other way around,which it turns out is relevant to the theme of the film. But this is really more of a serial killer movie and there is no attempt to get inside the killer/werewolf's head or to delve into what he does and his twisted reasons. The killer is made obvious from the start so there is no mystery element to keep you guessing and with no depth then you're left with a long dry haul through decent period atmosphere and photography. You either need scares or drama or in the best case both, this offers neither.

Oh, like Rotweiler, this features a needless scene of a fully frontal naked man running around. Is this some ongoing theme developing as a trademark for this production company? All kidding and naked men aside this somehow helped lead the director to making the REC films so might be worth a look just to see where and what he had to work with before that.
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An Interesting Historical Look at Werewolves
gavin694210 October 2012
An uproar is caused when some mutilated cadavers are discovered, giving way to the legend of the "Werewolf of Allariz"... starring Julian Sands!

On Netflix, it is listed as "Werewolf Hunter" and has an incredibly stupid cover. This made me dread it as a disposable straight-to-video, poorly made film. The straight-to-video part may be correct, but it is hardly disposable and certainly not poorly made.

I love the talk of genetics versus conscious criminality, and also the coroner's analysis of a corpse, showing where canine teeth caused damage as opposed to human blades. I feel like the writer really wanted to capture the science of the time, and the director and effects crew lived up to the challenge. (There is also a pretty cool transformation scene.)

I especially love that this film is loosely based on the story of Manuel Blanco Romasanta (1809 - 1863), Spain's first serial killer. Although I have spent more than my fair share of time studying serial killers, I have to say his story was not one familiar to me. So, I appreciate this film bringing it to my attention. Is it accurate beyond the parts about soap made from human fat? Maybe not. But even getting me to look into things more made this worthwhile.
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Well made & different but a bit dull for my liking.
poolandrews15 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt is set in the Galicia region of Spain during 1851 & starts as fear sweeps through the area as several dead, mutilated bodies have turned up recently. The locals suspect Wolves in the forest & a mass hunt to kill as many as they can find begins, meanwhile Maria Pereira (Maru Valdivielso) leaves the area with her fiancé Manuel Romasanta (Julian Sands) & her young daughter Teresa (Luna McGill) but once they are alone in the forest Romasanta kills both of them & then travels back to seduce Maria's sister Bárbara (Elsa Pataky). While Romasanta is sleeping Bárbara finds evidence that he murdered her sister & niece & manages to lead the police to him but when put on trial Romasanta says that he had no choice but to kill his countless victims as he is a Werewolf. A British Professor (David Gant) takes an interest in the case & tries to scientifically prove that Romasanta is indeed a Werewolf & can be cured of his curse...

This British & Spanish co-production was directed by Paco Plaza & certainly wasn't what I expected but unfortunately not in a good way, you see while Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt tries to be different it forgets to be any good with it. Apparently based on a true story which happened in Spain, in 1851 & involving a serial killer named Romasanta who claimed he was a Werewolf in court when captured this could have been a great little film but I found the script very ponderous, slightly confusing at times & I also found it difficult to care about anyone or anything. The film feels disjointed, parts feel missing or edited wrongly & Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt is very slow going with very little action or incident. Sure there's plenty of dull human drama & high emotion played out but like I said I never cared about anyone & I never got involved in the story. Ay a little over 90 minutes long Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt could have done with a good ten minutes cut out & a few more moments of horror rather than dull drama. Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt isn't terrible & if you can get into the story & care for the people involved then I could see you enjoying this but I didn't, I couldn't & so I never.

On thing that Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt has going for it is that it's incredibly well made & a visually very nice film, the period locations, sets, costumes & detail is superb & that's the main reason I gave it four stars out of ten & not less. Forget about any real gore or violence, there are some graphic shots of dead mutilated bodies but nothing else. There's a Werewolf transformation scene that unusually has the actual Wolf creature turn into a human rather than the other way around. Apparently the obscure Spanish film The Ancines Woods (1970) is also based on the story of Manuel Romasanta.

Obviously filmed on location in Spain this looks very slick with great photography that captures the period very well, a lack of quick fire editing & shaky hand-held camcorder shots is most welcome. The acting is alright, the performances are better than usual for a low budget horror film but the main name in the cast British born actor Julian Sands.

Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt doesn't seem to know what it wants to be, a historic period piece, a horror film, a drama or a murder mystery & ends up somewhere between them all without ever satisfying in any aspect. I just didn't like it despite it's high production values & attempt at doing something original & slightly different.
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rainking_es11 March 2005
Sometimes I ask myself why do I watch any given movie which has had bad reviews, and if I should begin to listen to the critics (especially when the opinion is unanimous). So, I met Paco Plaza's work through his first movie ("The Second Name"), sort of a satanic-thriller, made in Spain but played by foreign actors and in English. It was an effective and dark film; it wasn't the most original movie I'd ever watched, but it was OK, I had a nice and entertaining time (mission accomplished). And now I go and watch this "Romasanta", waiting for some excitement, even though the cast wasn't that good (Elsa Pataky, Julian Sands…). And what do I get? A story about wolf-men that never seems to begin, flat like a valley, and without a real climax. The aesthetic has reminded me of "The Pact Of The Wolves" (a recent french movie), and the technical aspects such as the photography or the special effects are just great. Anyway, for me a movie is an story, and a nice movie MUST have a nice story, and it has to be well told. Maybe the story in "Romasanta" is attractive , but Mr. Plaza hasn't found a way to tell it in a right way.

I hope that Plaza's third film will be as good as "The Second Name", so we can count on him to make nice fantastic-terror movies (just like Amenábar or Balagueró do). The three of them have demonstrated that it's possible to make good thrillers in Spain.

My rate: 4/10
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