The Mondo-Esoterica Guide to

Leon Klimovsky


Born in Argentina in 1906, Klimovsky trained as a dentist but was a life-long fan of the cinema, helping to finance the country's first film clubs and promoting art-house films. He eventually moved into making films himself, writing as well as directing a number of productions from short movies to feature length productions - he gained some international recognition when his hard hitting anti-drugs film Marihuana (1950) was nominated at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival and he continued to work with increasing budgets on more elaborate projects including El conde de Montecristo (1954) based on the classic Dumas tale. During the 1950s Klimovsky relocated to Spain where he continued to work on a variety of projects, although despite his love of art-house films, he would find most of his work on comedies and melodramas. In the early 1960s, he worked on a couple of small Spanish Westerns - Torrejón City (1962) and Fuera de la ley (1964), unaware of the incredible boom that would shortly emerge from the global success of Sergio Leone's Per un pugno di dollari (1964).

As Italian film crews descended on the Spanish deserts, beginning the great Spaghetti Western boom, Klimovsky was quickly pressed into shooting another Spanish Western Dos mil dólares por Coyote (1966) and the Italian film Pochi dollari per Django (1966) starring Anthony Steffen - although for the latter title, the credited assistant director Enzo G. Castellari would later claim that the Argentine had no interest in the material and that he was forced to take over production to see the film come together properly. Continuing to work on Spaghetti Westerns, including Pagó cara su muerte (1969), La sfida dei MacKenna (1970) and Reverendo Colt (1971), Klimovsky also helmed a number of low budget Macaroni Combat films including Giugno '44 - Sbarcheremo in Normandia (1968) with Michael Rennie and Hora cero: Operación Rommel (1969) with Jack Palance, capitalising on the success of Second World War adventure films like Dirty Dozen (1967) and Where Eagles Dare (1968).

His career would take a real turn in the early 1970s however, when he was hired to direct a small horror picture for actor/writer Paul Naschy. Having had some success with a series of werewolf films, but often finding himself at the mercy of directors pulling out of projects (Los monstruos del terror (1970)) or turning up drunk (La Furia del Hombre Lobo (1972)), Naschy wanted a director who was reliable but also willing to let the star have most of the control over the film. Klimovsky was hired and the resulting Werewolf Shadow (1971) would be Naschy's break-out film, selling world-wide. A quick sequel - Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo (1972) proved another success and Klimovsky would direct several more Naschy films, including voodoo zombie story La rebelión de las muertas (1973) and giallo-thriller Una libélula para cada muerto (1974). Off the success of these films, he was hired for two other Spanish horror films in a similar style - La saga de los Drácula (1973) and La orgía nocturna de los vampiros (1973).

As the 1970s rolled on, European cinema took a decline - backbone genres like the Spaghetti Western had run their course - and in Spain the death of General Franco and the political void it left made it a hard time to shoot films in the country. Klimovsky would helm a few more horror films, the most notable being the unusual Night of the Living Dead inspired Último deseo (1976) which would be his final collaboration with Paul Naschy. For his final production, he returned back to the melodramas of his early career to shoot the nine part television series La barraca (1979) after which he retired. In his later years he confessed in an interview that, although always desiring to make art-house films, he never regretted working on the many commercial projects he made. He was given an honorary award by the Spanish Film Director Association in 1995 and he died in April 1996 in Madrid.

DVD Reviews: Films directed by Leon Klimovsky

Doctor Jekyll versus the Werewolf (1972)

UK Mondo Macabro Region 0 DVD
A sucessfully unique twist on the Wolfman mythos courtesy of a strong script and decent production.
Some Dollars for Django (1966)

C'est la Vie UK Region 2 DVD
An average Spaghetti Western with decent but unoriginal script, action and production, generally unspectacular.
For completists
Su le mani, cadavere! Sei in arresto (1971)

Koch Media Germany Region 2 DVD
Nothing too original but a surprisingly well made film from Leon Klimovsky and starring Peter Lee Lawrence.
Recommended to fans
Werewolf Shadow (1971)

UK Anchor Bay Region 0 DVD
Naschy has the lead role in this Wolfman picture. Although the script is poor, the film looks good and is fun to watch.
Recommended place to start for Naschy newcomers.


Return to main menu.

Return to Mondo Esoterica Guides menu.

All text in this page written by Timothy Young - December 2005 / January 2011.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

Please contact: