Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday 10th January 2010: Vengeance Of The Zombies!

Vengeance Of The Zombies

Spain 1973 colour

aka La Rebelión De Las Muertas, Walk Of The Dead

Director León Klimovsky Writer “Paul Naschy”/Jacinto Molina Alvarez

Cast “Paul Naschy”/Jacinto Molina Alvarez (Krisna/Kantaka/Satán), Rommy (Elvire Irving), Mirta Miller (Kala), María Kosti (Elsie)

Hola everyone and welcome to Schlock Treatment's second Grindhouse 101 features, a tribute to the King of Spanish Horror as we say farewell to Paul Naschy, who passed away at the end of November aged 75.

Paul Naschy, born Jacinto Molina Alvarez, was a musclebound bit player in Spanish films until his breakthrough role in 1968's Nights Of The Werewolf cast him not only as doomed lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky, but also as a Spansh successor to horror legends Lon Chaney Sr, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. It began a string of genre roles for Naschy throughout the Seventies and early Eighties in which he reinvigorated horror icons such as Count Dracula, the Mummy, Dr Jekyll and many others by drenching them in blood, sex and sadism for a hip, thrillseeking Euro audience. While never a “name” like Christopher Lee in Britain or America, the actor, writer and sometime director was considered a Horror Renaissance Man throughout Europe, who naturally took Naschy to their bloodied and naked bosom.

Tonight's film, Vengeance Of The Zombies from 1973, sounds suspiciously like yet another European reworking of Night Of The Living Dead, and considering Spain's other contributions to the undead genre at the time – The Living Dead In Manchester Morgue, or Armando de Ossorio's Blind Dead quartet – it's a fair call. Vengeance..., however, reveals Naschy's classical leanings towards the voodoo zombie from the Thirties and Forties – think White Zombie or I Walked With A Zombie. It's the tale of two brothers, both played by Naschy: one a self-styled Indian mystic named Krishna operating out of a remote British country mansion, and his horribly twisted and vengeful twin Kantaka (shhh... just forget I told you that bit!). Krishna is followed to the house – supposedly an accursed place known as The Devil's House - by Gloria, his most ardent admirer, who is plagued by visions of her dead cousin Elvira. Her father is found hanging, her butler's stabbed, and all gnarled and rotting fingers point to a curse upon her Irving family, in which the recently deceased members are resurrected by some dastardly Black Magic and used as the tools of a terrible revenge.

In Naschy's script, there are no George A. Romero style flesheaters, just proposterous white-faced “corpses” in diaphanous burial shrouds. To be honest it's a strange and slightly unsettling mix: an attempt to blend the lyricism of a Forties' Val Lewton chiller will the charnel house demands of a Seventies shocker. So when the shocks come – and trust me, they come in faucets – they tend to seem that much more shocking. However there is an unmistakable style AND charm to Vengeance... in the slow motion shots of the female zombies, the surprisingly graphic Satanic ceremonies, and I suspect the slightly po-faced notion Naschy and director León Klimovsky both held that they were making “art“ rather than a silly and simplistic horror movie. The English dubbing makes Naschy appear a little wooden at times, but there's no denying he cuts a striking figure, either as the swarthy, long-haired Krishna, the scarred Kantaka, or in this third appearance in the film – as the Devil himself! And seriously, once you've played the Big Boss, there's nowhere else to go...

Naschy continued his career into the Eighties, where both he and the Spanish film industry hit an all-time low. His film appearances, usually in token horror roles, were sporadic, and it was only in the last few years that his career accelerated once more. Sadly Paul Naschy passed away on November 30th 2009 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. The King of Paella Horror is no more – long live the King, as Schlock Treatment pays tribute to Paul Naschy with the 1973 Vengeance Of The Zombies.

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