Naschy is nasty again...
Franco Jesse | Pittsburgh, USA | 08/02/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This Spanish production stars Paul Naschy as French Marshall Giles De Lancre, ruler and major pain in the butt to the residents of his village. From his mountain castle, and with the urging of his evil wife and her alchemist colleague, he sacrifices villagers, ostensibly for not being able to afford to pay their taxes, but really to collect their blood for rituals aimed at acquiring the infamous "Philosopher's Stone", key to power and omniscience. Our hero, Captain Gaston, returns from the wars to find that his old friend Naschy is not quite the nobleman he used to be. He joins in with a gang of rebels who plot to storm the castle, rescue the captured fair maiden, and put an end to the reign of terror.
The film's assets are the costumes and scenery, which are right out of a medieval painting. And while the cover promises a gore-fest, the violence is fairly reasonable by today's standards. (In one scene, just as a prisoner is about to become headless, a character moves into the screen and blocks the view.) The action scenes vary in quality: some of the swordplay is excellent, while others display poor editing. (Captain Gaston, however, does more acrobatics than I've seen a period action hero do since Burt Lancaster). The film is also curiously different in that more men than women get the dungeon treatment. The acting is probably good, but poorly dubbed--unfortunately, there is no option to listen to the original voices and view subtitles, which I would have preferred. Another annoying factor--which seems to be a characteristic of Spanish horror films from this era--is the use of weird electronic sounds to convey something evil going on. Not only is it jarringly different from the rest of the score, but it completely detracts from the whole days-of-yore ambiance.
Naschy fans are cautioned that this is not a werewolf, vampire or any other kind of horror movie. It's just old-fashioned medieval nastiness. Mildly entertaining, probably OK for an evening rental if you like this kind of thing. It just could have been better."
DURGAZ | 08/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie has lots of scenes with a shady old alchemist dude sporting a long beard and black robes and hat who works in a room with no proper wall structure amongst many candles and beakers and such, who is in cahoots with the Count's wife to procure peasant maidens to get their blood for his alchemical recipes, lots of scenes of Satan worship during human sacrifice amongst crumbling ruins, lots of scenes of a torture chamber, swordplay, jousting, castles, in short this movie is great if you like all that kind of thing."