Great gothic chiller
GialloFan | OH USA | 05/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well-to-do married couple Paul Marnac (Naschy) and Genevieve (Saly) aren't quite
as happy as they appear; Paul's business is in trouble and he's having a fling on
the side with Julie (Ondiviela), a sexy young schemer who's more than happy to
help Paul bump off his frail wife. Fortunately Paul happens to be a descendant
of Alaric de Marnac (the medieval fiend played by Naschy in the earlier Horror
Rises from the Tomb), and legend has it that Alaric returns in knight gear once
every century to clean house of anyone making life miserable for the family.
Other players in the household include Paul's secretary and occasional mistress
Mirielle (MirO) and the creepy housekeeper Mabile (Gaos), who has a habit of
popping up in Julie's nightmares with a bleeding slit throat. Soon death
strikes in this cursed household as the knighted terror returns, but all is
not as it seems...
Having thoroughly explored the possibilities of transposing the classic Universal
monsters to Spain with his series of Waldemar Daninsky werewolf films and one-offs
like Count Dracula's Great Love, here horror icon Naschy takes a stab at William
Castle territory with this fast-paced, nasty, and thoroughly enjoyable fusion of
The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill. With its scheming lovers, trippy dream
sequences, and even a woman terrorized by a ghoul rising from a bathtub and
other horrors lying in wait outside, this ode to the master of screen gimmickry
features enough knots in its plot to keep viewers guessing. Even the over-the-top
finale is pure Castle, with supernatural horror and murder mystery shenanigans
finally swirling together to produce a hefty body count that ends on a suitably
delirious note. The film features an enjoyable turn from Naschy in a less
sympathetic role than usual and benefits from some heaping dollops of sex
including a lengthy topless bedroom scene, while Naschy-as-director piles
on the gothic visuals with plenty of stylized lighting and quirky camera
tricks. Add to that a typically pulsating score yanked from the CAM library
and you've got one of the stronger early '80s Euro horror titles, which was
strangely never circulated much outside of its native country except in wretched
bootleg editions... until now, that is.
In typically devoted fashion, Mondo Macabro delivers an immacualte, visually
stunning presentation of this rarity in a condition that literally looks like
a completely different film compared to past video editions. Colors are
beautifully saturated, and detail is pin-perfect throughout; this easily earns
its spot as one of their most satisfying visual presentations to date. The mono
Spanish soundtrack features optional English subtitles and sounds fine, with every
booming musical cue and piercing shriek coming through loud and clear. As for
extras, you get a new interview with Naschy in which he warmly talks about his
career, a retro-fitted episode of Eurotika! devoted to Spanish horror, a hefty
still and artwork gallery, and the usual party-worthy Mondo Macabro promo reel"
Not Spain's finest
Zoveck | Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/28/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Mondo Macabro continues it's uneven track record of high quality transfers of great and not so great horror movies from around the world. This one represents Spain, but it's not the finest example of the Spanish horror genre. Often the plot and acting of Spanish horror is juvenile, but stylish photography, gorgeous euro-babes, cheesy gore and creepy atmosphere are usually more than adequate compensation. Sadly, Panic Beats is lacking on most of these counts. The babes are sparse, photography uninspired, and what's the deal with the theme music?!? Also, for some reason, every actor and actress in this thing has really bad- distractingly bad- teeth!
Better Naschy films are Hunchback of the Morgue and Werewolf's Shadow. Even the dull Dracula's Great Love has sexy Rosanna Yanni to wake you up. Some of Spain's best in general are Tombs of the Blind Dead, Night of the Sorcerers, The Blood-Spattered Bride, The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, Horror Express and The Lorely's Grasp.
As for the DVD, the image and sound are top notch. There's also and interview with Naschy/Molina and a little overview of Spanish horror, that does include a (too) brief visit with the late Amando de Ossorio. Sadly, nothing very indepth is discussed.
If Macabro could do better with some of the films they acquire, I would be much more enthusiastic about their product, because I like the concept of what they're trying to do. Their Mystics in Bali DVD is a good example of them getting it right. I just wish this was a Night of the Sorcerers edition instead, with interviews galore and a fully restored, totally pristine image/sound transfer (hint,hint)."