Obscure Horror Cinema: The Ancines Woods

by William Burns

For some reason, Spanish horror cinema seems to have a fixation on werewolves. Whether it was because of Paul Naschy’s enormously influential aesthetic tastes or the years of Fascist artistic and social repression that were finally unleashed after the death of Francisco Franco, the transformative potentials of lycanthropy resonated for the Spanish public in the 70’s. Though Naschy’s movies focused more on the pulp aspects of past werewolf cinema (particularly Universal Studio’s epic The Wolf Man), the primal, instinctual ferocity represented by werewolves provides an apt metaphor for the bestial side of the human psyche that is so easily released through acts of violence, lust, and power. European history has several examples of very real crimes committed by men who believed themselves to be werewolves, atrocities that were rationalized by their perpetrators because they were committed while they were in their “animal” form. Clearly, these deranged men suffered from severe mental issues that helped to create these self-delusions, and yet their willingness to indulge these horrible cravings reveals  that at the heart of the human psyche the ability to regress to the animalistic is always a threat.  This kind of “real life” werewolf is front and center in Pedro Olea’s 1971 film The Ancines Woods.  Looking like it was actually filmed 200 years ago, The Ancines Woods takes place in a rural village in Northern Spain that is plagued with savage murders. Is it a werewolf or a lust killer? The Ancines Woods uses the haunting, dank forests of the area to enhance the foreboding mood of the film, an atmosphere of trepidation where the woods can swallow one up into its darkness, never to be seen again. Deep in the forest, our blackest desires and repressed passions are released and projected onto Nature. The wolf is our shadow self: bloodthirsty, fierce, and liberated from the restraints of civilization. The Ancine Woods feels so authentic that you won’t be able to stroll through the forest ever again. Of course, there is no home video release in sight so enjoy this uploaded Euro horror classic:


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