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The Films of Paul Naschy

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  • The Films of Paul Naschy

    There's been several releases of Spanish star Paul Naschy over the past year so it seems appropriate to start a title on him. Plus, it means we have a Spanish horror topic. The real reason is that I started in on the Paul Naschy Collection released from Scream! Factory and it seems better to make a new topic rather than post in the random thoughts.

    I'm familiar with the man and his work, but only somewhat. I think I've got four or five of his films on DVD, but honestly, it's been such a long time I don't remember them. For anyone not familiar with Naschy's movies, think of late 60's Hammer movies with their gothic atmosphere and air of sophistication. Now remove the sophistication and add in tits and blood and you have a Paul Naschy movie. You can tell the actor is a huge fan of the Universal movie monsters as he really comes to life in his acting when portraying them, especially as tragic figures. What keeps these movies from being quick-sure recommendations is the European narrative. It's common in many films from overseas at this time so I'm not trying to single out these Spanish horror movies for doing such a thing, but characters will act strangely or overlook the most basic tools of common sense for the story to move ahead a certain way. The editing is where much of the "trouble" comes from as it's sometimes difficult to tell if time has passed or where the characters are in relation to each other or to the main causes of concern at the heart of the matter. It gets weird. I say "trouble" because it's also fresh and I know some people dig it because it's so much different from traditional American films. It's part of the reason I initially gravitated towards Asian horror for the same reason.

    Alright, time for the first movie to kick off this topic.

    Horror Rises from the Tomb is the first movie in the collection so I figured it would make for a good start. It's...about what I described above. Characters act blindly to events at times, there are moments of gore and sexy Euro women, and the film is dripping in atmosphere. I was surprised at how it started off as a period piece, but then jumped to modern times in the city. For a moment, I thought it was going to take place in civilization and that would be a fresh approach. Then it shifted to the countryside and fell into expected territory. That's not a negative as I greatly admire the look of the house and the grounds with adjoining mausoleum. I got a chuckle at how the evil Paul Naschy character dies from the magical amulet barely grazing his shoulder. His reaction to it so over the top. Not good, but not bad and worthwhile as a time killer.

    Anyone else a fan of his films or care to comment on any of them? Maybe there's a resident Naschy aficionado out there.
    People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."

  • #2

    An Indian mystic uses magical chants to raise women from the dead, then sends them out to perform revenge killings for him.
    My Naschy film for this week is 1973's Vengeance of the Zombies. I enjoyed some of it more than Horror Rises from the Tomb, but it's a mixed bag. I miss the gothic atmosphere. However, it lacks any of that bizarre narrative and character reactions (mostly) which I find off-putting so that's a plus. Also, the zombies are controlled through voodoo which is nice to see. The zombies themselves are just women running around in black negligees, but they move in slow-motion much like the living dead in the Blind Dead series. Something about that slow-motion makes it creepy. There's a funny sequence involving a tough talking cop who insists that no creature of the night can stand up to the firepower of his gun. The gang of female zombies show up, laugh at his pitiful bullets, then tackle him to the ground. It's an interesting use of emasculation since guns usually represent a phallic symbol. I don't know if this scene is meant to be read into like this though.

    The real star of the movie isn't the zombies or Paul Naschy playing an Indian mystic, his roasted and burnt mystic brother, or the Devil. It's the batshit, do whatever it wants music score. It turns on a dime no matter what's happening on screen. Sometimes it's subdued to create an atmosphere. Most times it's like something from a Jess Franco movie. Then there are the strange moments when it turns into something like out of Twin Peakswhenever there's a scene at the diner or when a character is on screen to do something weird for laughs. That would be fine even in a movie like this except it pops up in the most unlikely places such as when a woman discovers her butler just took an ax to the face or finds her dad hanged. There's no rhyme or reason to it.

    It's a strange movie and that's without going into detail on the killer who looks like Vincent Price in 1953's House of Wax who run around murdering people through black magic or the unnecessary plot twist that occurs in the final 1 minute and 22 seconds that's resolved a mere 7 seconds afterwards in time for the credits.
    People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."


    • #3
      I have heard of
      Paul Naschy but have yet to see any of his films but will add him to my ever growing list. I'm so glad your bringing up so many of the more obscure and little known films.


      • #4
        I've seen about six of his movies so far and they're all entertaining if you're in the right mood, but none yet that has wowed me. Still, I haven't dug too deep into his filmography yet. Try them out sometime and see what you think. He's covered most of the sub-genres in the horror field from a giallo, possession, vampires, and tons of werewolf movies (what he's most famous for) among others. His stuff is a like a more bloody, tits-filled Hammer movie without the class.
        People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."


        • #5

          The story concerns a drifter named Gilles (Paul Naschy) who arrives in a French village looking for work. He soon gets a lift from a woman named Claude (Diana Lorys) who sports a prosthetic hand, hiding a gruesome deformity. She gives him a job as a handyman at a large house owned by her and her two sisters: nymphomaniac redhead Nicole (Leon) and wheelchair-using Yvette (Maria Perschy). Soon after he sets up doing chores around the grounds, Nicole takes a strong interest in him and Claude voices her disgust, while Yvette is tended to by a doctor and nurse. As these domestic events occur, a black-gloved killer is murdering blue-eyed women and gouging out their eyes, dropping them into a jar of water. Before too long Gilles is painted as a top suspect, due to a shady past involving his abuse of a former girlfriend, and the authorities pursue him.
          Over the years, I've seen this listed at the top of most people's lists as their favorite Paul Naschy film so this had a lot to live up to. Did it? Sort of. It plays out like a lesser quality Italian giallo, but it certainly is entertaining in all its ridiculous glory. At this point, Naschy is indulging in his celluloid fantasies as he plays a man that sleeps with women, nearly chokes one who instantly confesses that she loves him, has a fight against a knife wielding psychopath, beats him down, and then stabs said psychopath with his own knife. The murder mystery aspects fall way short. Most of the victims are introduced just moments before their deaths and the police investigation is rather weak. There's a hilarious moment when the killer gets stabbed. SPOILERIt's very much a guy during the "stabbing" scene and the scream of pain is a man's voice. Later, the killer is revealed to be a woman. I think the reason why people think of this so highly is the big twist at the end SPOILERwith multiple killers being manipulated by a crazed father to avenge his daughter. It raises the film up a notch, but not enough to erase the biggest problem I have with Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll---that damn music. It sounds like something you'd hear in a dive bar playing on a jukebox in the backroom. It gets played during any scene involving tension or surprise, effectively destroying the mood.

          It sounds like I have nothing but criticism for this, but it's because this could have been a really strong murder mystery that misses the mark on what's most important. There are enough unintentional funny moments to keep it entertaining (the ladies love that Naschy!) and it moves at a fairly quick pace. Out of the three titles I've watched in this topic, I'd say it's the best so far. However, it can't be the best Naschy has to offer...can it?
          People hyping up latest comic book movie to be the GOAT and I'm like "psshh, you guys must not have seen Bigfoot rip off a man's dick before in 1980's Night of the Demon."