Recently I wrote about filmmaker Paul Naschy in my blog, UNLEASHING THE BEAST: A RETROSPECTIVE ON FILMMAKER PAUL NASCHY. His films have always been entertaining to me and thankfully, Shout! Factory has released his movies on Blu-ray in two collections. The first, The Paul Naschy Collection, features five of his films. Though the films vary in quality of storytelling, they are all entertaining in their own right and this collection is highly recommended.
HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (1973)
HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB is a Spanish film directed by Carlos Aured and released in 1973. The movie belongs to the subgenre of European gothic horror and is renowned for its eerie atmosphere, occult themes, and gruesome visuals. Produced by Paul Naschy, who also stars in the film, it has gained a cult following over the years for its distinctive blend of macabre storytelling and chilling imagery.
The story is set in the 15th century and revolves around a diabolical tale of black magic and vengeance. The movie opens with the execution of Alaric de Marnac (Paul Naschy), an infamous warlock who was burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft and Satanism. Before his death, Alaric places a curse on his brother, Sir Markway de Marnac, and his descendants, vowing to rise from the grave and seek revenge for his unjust demise.
Centuries later, in modern-day France, a group of archaeologists stumbles upon the tomb of Alaric de Marnac during an excavation. Ignoring the ominous warnings and legends surrounding the tomb, they decide to open it, unknowingly unleashing the malevolent spirit of the vengeful warlock. As Alaric returns to life, he begins to possess the body of his modern-day descendant, a young man named Hugo (also played by Paul Naschy).
In a terrifying turn of events, Hugo succumbs to the dark forces within him and becomes the vessel for Alaric’s wicked soul. As Alaric resumes his reign of terror, he sets out to exact his revenge on those connected to his family’s betrayal in the past. The archaeologists find themselves trapped in a nightmarish struggle against supernatural forces that they can scarcely comprehend.
HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB exudes a pervasive sense of dread and an eerie, gothic ambiance. It delves into themes of ancestral curses, reincarnation, black magic, and the fine line between good and evil. The film masterfully weaves elements of the occult and medieval witchcraft into a tale of horror and vengeance, creating a chilling narrative that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.
Throughout the film, the viewer is treated to haunting visuals, graphic violence, and nightmarish sequences, making it a quintessential representation of 1970s European horror cinema. The movie relies on practical effects and atmospheric lighting to create a spooky and unsettling atmosphere that lingers long after the credits roll.
HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB holds a special place in the hearts of horror movie enthusiasts and fans of classic Euro-horror. Despite a limited budget, the film has garnered a dedicated cult following for its compelling storytelling and memorable visuals. Paul Naschy’s portrayal of both Alaric de Marnac and Hugo stands out as a highlight of the film, showcasing his talent as a versatile actor in the horror genre.
Overall, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB remains a notable entry in Spanish horror cinema, representing the evocative and atmospheric horror that was prevalent in the 1970s. Its ability to evoke a sense of dread and its exploration of occult themes continue to attract new viewers even decades after its original release.
VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1973)
VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES is directed by León Klimovsky and released in 1973. The movie is part of the European gothic horror genre, known for its supernatural elements, eerie atmosphere, and macabre storytelling. With a blend of voodoo, black magic, and undead themes, the film has gained a cult following for its unique and chilling take on the horror genre.
The story follows a young woman named Ana (played by Nadiuska) who travels to the ancestral home of her late father, Dr. Grimaldi (Maurice Poli), in a small remote village in the Caribbean. Her father’s death remains shrouded in mystery, and Ana is determined to uncover the truth behind his untimely demise.
Upon arriving at the village, Ana is introduced to her father’s former research assistant, Dr. Kessel (Alberto Dalbés). He reveals that her father was investigating the occult and voodoo practices, delving into the secrets of raising the dead. As Ana delves deeper into her father’s past, she discovers a dark and sinister plot involving a voodoo cult that is using black magic to resurrect the dead for their own nefarious purposes.
Unwittingly, Ana becomes entangled in the web of the voodoo cult’s rituals, as they seek to transform her into one of their undead slaves. Along the way, she encounters various eerie and terrifying characters, including the malevolent voodoo priestess, Mama Maitresse (Tota Alba), who leads the cult. Ana’s fiancé, Dr. Peter (Vincent Renno), also gets drawn into the unfolding nightmare as he tries to save her from the clutches of the voodoo cult and its undead minions.
VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES delves into themes of voodoo, black magic, and the occult, exploring the supernatural world where the living and the dead intertwine. The film’s eerie atmosphere is amplified by its exotic Caribbean setting and its use of traditional voodoo rituals and mysticism. The concept of zombies, reanimated corpses under the control of a malevolent force, adds a chilling and nightmarish dimension to the story.
The movie’s visuals and cinematography contribute to the haunting ambiance, with dimly lit scenes, eerie sound effects, and unsettling visuals that heighten the sense of dread. As Ana confronts the malevolent forces, the film ventures into surreal and psychedelic sequences, blurring the lines between reality and the supernatural.
VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES has become a notable entry in Spanish horror cinema and is appreciated for its unique blend of voodoo, black magic, and zombie elements. While not as widely recognized as some of its European horror counterparts, the film has garnered a cult following among fans of classic horror cinema.
Despite its modest budget, the film manages to create an immersive and chilling experience, making it a memorable addition to the 1970s Euro-horror genre. The performances, especially by Nadiuska and Tota Alba, contribute to the film’s allure, and its exploration of voodoo and zombie themes remains an intriguing and distinctive aspect of VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES.
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (1974)
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL, originally titled “Los Ojos Azules de la Muñeca Rota,” is a Spanish-Italian horror film directed by Carlos Aured and released in 1974. The movie falls under the giallo subgenre, known for its mix of mystery, thriller, and horror elements. With its stylish cinematography, suspenseful plot, and unexpected twists, the film has garnered a cult following among fans of classic European horror.
The story centers around an enigmatic drifter named Paul (played by Paul Naschy), who arrives in a small Spanish village seeking refuge after a traumatic past. He takes up a job as a gardener and handyman on a remote estate owned by three sisters: Marta (Diana Lorys), Elena (Eva León), and Laura (María Perschy). The sisters live in isolation and carry a dark secret that haunts their past.
As Paul settles into his new job, a series of gruesome murders begin to occur in the village, with young women being the victims. Paul becomes a suspect due to his mysterious background and troubled past, leading Inspector Diaz (Ángel Aranda) to investigate him closely. However, Paul becomes romantically involved with Marta, the eldest sister, which further complicates matters and draws him deeper into the sinister events surrounding the estate.
As the body count rises and the tension mounts, Paul’s past starts catching up to him, and the sisters’ secrets begin to unravel. Twists and turns in the narrative keep the audience guessing until the shocking truth behind the murders and the sisters’ dark secret are finally revealed in a climactic and suspenseful finale.
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL is characterized by its atmospheric and moody setting, capturing the essence of the giallo genre. The film explores themes of psychological trauma, hidden identities, and the consequences of past actions. The hauntingly beautiful cinematography and eerie music contribute to the film’s suspenseful atmosphere, keeping the audience on edge as they navigate the web of mystery and intrigue.
The title itself alludes to the theme of fractured identity and broken personas, symbolized by the enigmatic blue-eyed dolls that appear throughout the film. As the plot unfolds, the characters’ true natures are revealed, blurring the lines between victims and perpetrators, and keeping the audience engaged in the puzzle-like storytelling.
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL has become a cult classic in the giallo and European horror genre. While not as well-known as some of the more prominent giallo films of the era, the movie has gained appreciation for its engaging plot, stylish direction, and strong performances by the cast, particularly Paul Naschy in the lead role.
As a lesser-known gem in the realm of ’70s Euro-horror, the film has found a dedicated following among fans of the giallo genre, drawn to its blend of mystery, suspense, and horror elements. BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL continues to be remembered as a stylish and intriguing entry in the rich tapestry of European horror cinema from the 1970s.
HUMAN BEASTS (1980)
HUMAN BEASTS, also known as “El Carnaval de las Bestias” (The Carnival of the Beasts), is a horror film directed by Paul Naschy, who also stars in the lead role. Released in 1980, the movie belongs to the exploitation horror subgenre and is known for its shocking violence, disturbing themes, and exploration of the darkest aspects of human nature.
The story revolves around a young student named Ana (Silvia Aguilar) who travels to a remote countryside mansion to visit her aunt, Uncle Serafin (Paul Naschy), and their peculiar family. Unbeknownst to her, the family is involved in a dark and sinister secret. They are a family of cannibals who have been engaging in a gruesome tradition for generations, preying upon unsuspecting travelers and indulging in depraved acts.
Ana arrives at the mansion just as the family is preparing for their annual carnival, a facade to attract their next victims. She becomes increasingly suspicious of the family’s bizarre behavior and begins to uncover the horrifying truth behind their hidden activities. As the carnival commences, Ana finds herself trapped in the mansion, surrounded by sadistic and deranged relatives who are determined to keep their bloodthirsty tradition alive.
Faced with imminent danger and desperate to survive, Ana must use her wits and courage to outsmart her monstrous captors. As the horrifying truth unfolds, the boundaries between humanity and savagery blur, leaving Ana in a nightmarish struggle for her life.
HUMAN BEASTS delves into the darkest corners of human psychology, exploring themes of cannibalism, sadism, and the degradation of morality. The film doesn’t shy away from graphic violence and disturbing imagery, creating a disturbing and unsettling atmosphere throughout.
As the title suggests, the movie focuses on the inhumanity that lurks within human beings, exploring the idea that under certain circumstances, ordinary people can become monstrous. It questions the depths of depravity and the capacity for evil that exists within individuals, even in seemingly ordinary and respectable settings.
HUMAN BEASTS is not widely known beyond the realm of cult horror cinema. Its extreme content and controversial themes have limited its mainstream exposure, but it has gained a reputation among fans of exploitation and extreme horror. The film remains an intriguing and disturbing entry in Paul Naschy’s filmography, showcasing his willingness to explore the darkest aspects of humanity and push the boundaries of horror storytelling.
While HUMAN BEASTS may not be for everyone due to its explicit and disturbing content, it has carved a niche for itself in the realm of exploitation horror and continues to be appreciated by fans of the genre for its shock value and audacious exploration of human depravity.
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981)
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF, also known as “El Retorno del Hombre Lobo” (The Return of the Wolfman), is a Spanish horror film directed by Paul Naschy, who also stars as the titular werewolf. Released in 1981, the movie is part of the Euro-horror genre and pays homage to classic Universal monster films while adding its own unique twist to the werewolf legend.
The film follows the story of Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy), a nobleman who carries a curse that turns him into a werewolf whenever a full moon rises. After spending years trying to control his monstrous alter ego, Waldemar believes he has finally found a way to break the curse. He seeks the help of a sorceress named Wandessa (Julia Saly), who has the knowledge to lift his werewolf affliction.
Unfortunately, Wandessa has her own nefarious plans for Waldemar and uses dark rituals to bring him back from the dead as her servant. Resurrected as a werewolf, Waldemar becomes bound to Wandessa’s will, forced to do her bidding and fulfill her sinister desires.
As the film unfolds, the story delves into Waldemar’s tragic past, his tormented present, and his struggle to regain control over his destiny. Along the way, he encounters various supernatural creatures, including vampires and zombies, leading to an epic showdown between the forces of good and evil.
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF embraces classic horror themes, including the battle between good and evil, the consequences of curses, and the inner conflict of the cursed protagonist. The movie skillfully combines elements of traditional gothic horror with creature feature elements, making it a thrilling and atmospheric experience for fans of the genre.
Paul Naschy’s portrayal of Waldemar Daninsky stands out as a highlight of the film. He brings depth and complexity to the tragic character, showcasing the inner turmoil of a man cursed with lycanthropy. The movie also features practical effects and makeup work to bring the werewolf and other creatures to life, adding to its charm and appeal.
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF is considered one of the standout films in Paul Naschy’s extensive filmography. Naschy, known as the “Lon Chaney of Spain,” was famous for his contributions to the horror genre, and this film is no exception. While not as widely recognized as some other werewolf-themed films, it has developed a dedicated following among fans of Euro-horror and classic monster movies.
As a Spanish horror film with an international appeal, NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF holds a special place in the hearts of horror enthusiasts. Its blend of gothic horror, supernatural elements, and creature feature tropes make it a delightful and entertaining addition to the werewolf subgenre. The film remains an essential watch for fans of classic horror and those looking to explore the unique world of Paul Naschy’s werewolf saga.
This collection is a must have in every horror collection. Each film is unique and entertaining in its own way. Though low budget, the atmosphere in these films are comparable to some of the best horror movies out there, with spooky sets and decent gore effects for the time. What drew me to this set is that in the past, I had enjoyed some of Naschy’s better known films and felt having a more complete collection would make more sense. This also gave me an affordable opportunity to see some of these films for the first time.
To order your own copy, just click on the Blu-ray collection image at the start of the article. Next up: THE PAUL NASCHY COLLECTION II.