Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (1973)

While it was ongoing, I wrote several reviews of films in the excellent line of Spanish horror films released by BCI/Deimos. I'm going to be putting them here in the coming days. First up...

Fri., 16 Nov., 2007

Alaric de Marnac (Paul Naschy) ran into some problems with the law a few centuries ago; it seems the authorities of his day didn't appreciate his murderous habits. What's an evil warlock to do? If you're Alaric and it's 15th century France, looks like the next item on the agenda is getting one's head chopped off. Alaric doesn't appreciate his executioners' poor sense of humor about the whole business, and, before getting his lid bobbed, he puts a curse on their descendants. Five-hundred years pass, then HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB!

Finally saw this one two days ago, and what a whacked-out movie! A stubby weightlifter-looking warlock/werewolf (or at least one who howls and is accused of werewolfism) who spends half his screentime in the movie as a severed head, his most excellent vampire girlfriend, mind-control mayhem, more than the mandatory-minimum of nudity, a beating heart being torn out of a chest, fantastic use of a great location in winter, vampire fu, some first-rate backwoods justice, the Hammer of Thor as a talisman against evil, lots of evil to wield it against, the best Naschy visual character design EVER, AND the living dead, AND a score drawn straight from 1940s radio dramas.

Anyone who doesn't love this movie just sucks.

On the other hand, it's not a movie to approach rationally--nothing in it makes one lick of sense, and one could write a long and mean review cataloguing its many idiocies. It was obviously an impoverished production, and could have used something more closely resembling a budget here and there. It's very poorly edited, at times--director Carlos Aured was a first-timer behind the camera, and it shows. Some truly terrible transitions, among other problems.

These things were noticeable, sometimes nagging, but none of them even came close to robbing me of the very real fun I had with the movie. Look at all the wonders encompassed in the running time of HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB! No one is going to go into it expecting CITIZEN KANE--to be put off by its shortcomings to any real extent would be far more lamebrained than the lamest of the many plot elements with which the viewer is beseiged. This one is a definite keeper.

BCI/Deimos also gets a thumbs up for yet another first-rate DVD release in their Spanish horror line. Unlike many of their others, this one actually lives up to the "Special Edition" label on the cover, and sports many worthy extras. There's even a commentary by Naschy and Aured. A minor quibble about that, though--the commentary is recorded in what sounds like a large room with the mic too far away from the participants. They speak in Spanish and subtitles are provided, so the translation can be read by those who don't speak the language as it goes along, but I'd also like to have heard it, and the relatively poor recording makes it difficult, at times, because the film's sound, kept at too high a level beneath the commentary, often all but drowns it out. As I said, though, a relatively minor quibble. Shouldn't detract too much from the hearty praise those at BCI have earned for this release.

--j.

2 comments:

  1. Great review, I love this film.

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  2. HRFTT has only grown on me since I wrote that. I appreciate the ambition of anything that even tries to juggle that many disparate elements; when someone can make it work, it's even better. This one made it work.

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