Tuesday, December 25, 2007

HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (1973) d. Carlos Aured

Reviewed by Rick Trottier

Most European horror films of the 1960s and 1970s were seen in the United States in a very different form than they were in Europe, especially Spanish horror. European horror films usually received extremely limited releases and when they reached video cassette, widescreen films were often pan & scan, while transfers were usually murky and miserable. The English dubbing of European languages added a layer of silliness to the mostly serious tones, while atmospheric imagery was often cut so that the gore and girls took center stage. Fortunately, American distribution companies are now offering dvds like HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB where you can see the original aspect ratios, restored prints, authentic language tracks and uncut foreign distribution scenes, providing Euro-horror film lovers with an experience that is unforgettable.

HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB is the story of a Medieval sorcerer, Alaric de Marnac, who is executed along with his vampiress attendant, Mabille de Lancre for crimes against God and humanity. Hundreds of years later, the descendants of Alaric de Marnac unwittingly provide the means of his return and that of his vampire collaborator, who begin a reign of terror and blood throughout the French countryside. Only the powers of a sacred amulet and arcane knowledge wielded by a beautiful young woman can stop the insidious pair from spreading carnage and carnality.

HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB, written by Jacinto Molina (Paul Naschy) uses the familiar plot device of Mr. Naschy playing a duel role of historical villain and present-day hero enmeshed in a story of sorcery and sin. Combined with spooky, rural castle sets, moodily colored lighting, gory death scenes rife with scarlet stained skin and a delicious array of beautiful European actresses, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB is a feast for the eyes. Alternating between hip, modern Continentals and murderous Middle Age monsters, and dappled with scabrous zombies and salacious starlets, Carlos Aured’s imagery more than makes up for a tale that is characteristically the pillar of Paul Naschy’s films. Whether you watch the English-dubbed track or glory in the original Castilian language track, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB is as enjoyable a film as any of the other splendid iconic offerings from the Naschy canon.

The extras menu on HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB may not be as lush as some of the other Naschy dvds that have come out in recent years, but it doesn’t have to be. There are only so many interviews available with the Master himself, and going over old ground does not make it fresher. What is included is still worthwhile. There is an introduction by Mr. Naschy as well as an audio commentary by Naschy and director Carlos Aured. A sizable stills gallery with lobby card and poster art will delight any fan of Euro-horror. In addition to the alternate language tracks, there is the original Spanish credit sequence and the U.S. theatrical trailer. Since Spanish films made during the rule of the Franco fascist regime censored nudity and violence, the alternate “censored” scenes can be viewed. Most importantly, HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB can be viewed widescreen and in glorious, crisp color.

HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB is another fine addition to the dvd cabinet of any serious collector/lover of Spanish horror at a time when Euro-horror was still the gold standard. It has the charismatic Jacinto Molina at his height, a bevy of beautiful actresses including the incomparable Helga Line and all the atmospheric mannerism worthy of an El Greco masterpiece.


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