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Legal Woes With “Terror Creatures From Beyond the Grave”

Terror Creatures From the Grave
Year: 1965
Genre: Horror
Director: Massimo Pupillo
Stars: Barbara Steele, Mirella Maravidi, Walter Brandi

The next film in the Pure Terror DVD collection is the 1965 Italian horror film Terror Creatures From the Grave.  I know it has taken a little bit for me to get to continuing with this set but it wasn’t from lack of trying.  Terror Creatures From the Grave is one damn difficult movie to get through.  Every time I sat down to watch it I was either too upset with its stupidity or falling asleep because Watching Terror Creatures From the Grave is a lot like sucking on a dirty sock full of chloroform.  However, a few pots of coffee later I was able to endure the experience.

Terror Creatures From the Grave tells the story of a young lawyer Albert Kovac (Walter Brandi) who is summoned to the country villa of Mr. Hauff only to end up fighting zombies.  As this movie attempts to do for Estate Law what Indiana Jones does for Archeology, I have decided to bring on the collaborative effort of an actual lawyer to help me discuss this movie. Presenting Phoenix Wright, the star of Capcom’s series of video games Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

hold itPhoenix: I am a fictional character.  How can you collaborate on a film review with a fictional character?

Because it is a fictional movie.  I mean, it only makes sense to review it with a fictional lawyer for the sake of credibility… right?

So the movie starts in with it’s absolute ineptitude pretty early, with the opening credits in fact.  We are told that this story is based upon Edgar Allen Poe.

objection

terror creatures 1Phoenix: This is a base lie! Edgar Allen Poe never wrote a story entitled “Terror Creatures From Beyond the Grave!”

Correct you are.  I’m no expert on Edgar Allen Poe but I at least know how to look up the guy’s body of work to know this isn’t one of Poe’s stories.  Now I suppose that this could be an adaptation of one of his stories just retitled but I strongly doubt that is the case, otherwise the credits would read “based upon the story ‘Whatever’ by Edgar Allen Poe.”  Now there are some slight, nearly tangential themes that can be found in Poe’s work but not enough to say that this is “Based” on Edgar Allen or even “inspired” by Poe for that matter.  The logic here seems to me that since Edgar Allen Poe wrote a story that mentions the plague and this film mentions the plague that this is now “based on Edgar Allen Poe.”  You see, in Poe’s story The Masque of the Red Death there.

objectionPhoenix: OBJECTION!  RELEVANCE!

Sorry, I will get back on topic with the movie.  So it seems that the law firm of Joseph Morgan has received a letter requesting the esteemed lawyer…

hold itPhoenix: Lawyers are not esteemed.  Everyone hates lawyers.  After all, what do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?  A good start!

They’re still better than hospital administrators.  Compared to them, lawyers are esteemed.  MOVING ON!  The law firm sends out a young associate Albert to handle the will of Mr. Hauff.  As it turns out Mr. Hauff has been dead for over a year – no need at all for this lawyer to work on rewriting a will.  Sorry you had to make that long trip.  Have a nice day.  Well, ideally Albert could have just shrugged his shoulders, said “Oh well, client’s dead.” and headed home.  But NOOOO, he has to stay here and solve this mystery.  Well, what little mystery there is; the guy died a year ago, the letter probably got lost in the mail.  Nope, he’s gotta be like Matlock about this.

objectionPhoenix: Matlock is God to all lawyers.  Besmirching his good name will not be tolerated.  Besides, all lawyers do have to do a little bit of investigative work here and there.  There’s a whole detecive part of all the Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney games.

Okay, so perhaps there is a tiny bit of investigative work that goes with the legal profession, a bit that is heavily over-exaggerated in television shows and movies.  This, however, is just ridiculous.  There’s not even a mystery here for the guy to solve nor a motivation for him to even stay there and solve it.  Eventually, however, he’s forced to stay for awhile when he finds a dead owl in the engine of his car.

hold it

terror creatures 2Phoenix: How did an owl get in his engine?

Good question.  It is impossible for an owl to just fly right into a car’s engine.  Couldn’t really fly up the exhaust pipe.  The only possible way an owl could get into the engine is if someone popped open the hood and tossed the owl in.  That’s probably what happened and it’s a pretty stupid way to sabotage a car.  Whatever happened to just taking off the distributor cap or removing a couple spark plugs.  Nope, I guess if you’re really going to screw up a car: OWL! Of course ___ Super Lawyer can’t figure that out!  So he’s left to learn the history about this villa and solve the non-mystery presented before him.

Now for the history of this place.  Long ago, while the plague swept through Europe like… like a plague, people in the vicintiy of this estate were condemned as plague spreaders.  Their hands were cut off and they were executed.

hold itPhoneix: They cut the hands off of rats?

No, they cut the hands off of people.  They even kept the hands, there’s a whole museum of mummified severed hands in this place.

objectionPhoenix: Humans don’t spread the plague!  Rats spread the plague. To be accurate the fleas on rats carry the disease.

terror creatures 3Well, I guess those medievel plague spreaders weren’t very effective and died for nothing then.  MOVING ON!  It seems that the late Mr. Hauff was intrigued by this history and found a way of contacting the dead.  Or rather, becoming one of the dead in order to just hang out with the plague spreaders.  It’s not fully clear how or why he did that but he’d now risen from his grave to seek revenge.

As bad as this movie is, I will give it deserved acclaim for one of these death scenes.  A parapalegic man confined to his wheelchair sets a sword up on a shelf.  He then wheels himself full speed into the sword.  It is so unnecessary and over-the-top it actually ends up being pretty stupid, goofy fun.  Of course these good times are spoiled when one of these risen plague spreaders – the titular Terror Creatures – comes into a room and, for no conceivable reason, places a hand on the dead man’s back.

hold itPhoenix: What hands?

terror creatures 4Good question!  The plague spreaders had their hands severed before they were buried – what they heck are they doing with hands AFTER death?  Now one could make the absolutley idiotic assumption that the Terror Creatures went into the severed hand museum, somehow opened the display cases and put their hands back on through magic well you’d be wrong.  There is a scene later where we see the hands themselves alive and moving in their display case.  Pretty unnecessary since all these hands do is just stay there and the Terror Creatures already have magic regenerative hands of their own so they don’t need those useless things.

objectionPhoenix: Relevance.

I’ll argue the fact that this is relveant because it goes to show that the people who made this movie have no clue what the hell they were thinking.  MOVING ON!

While the Terror Creatures are going about executing Mr. Hauff’s revenge, Albert begins a love affair with the dead man’s daughter Corrine (Mirella Maravidi).  This is passable – kind of stupid but expected for the genre.  However, we later learn that the actual lawyer mentioned in the letter, Joseph Morgan, was supposed to be the one to show up.  He is a target of Hauff’s vengeance because he was carrying on a love affair with the man’s wife Cleo (Barbara Steele).  When Joseph does finally show up he continues right on with his love affair.  Now, I have to wonder – is this normal?  Do ALL lawyers have sex with their clients’ families?  I mean, Albert is supposed to be the hero and he’s having sex with his dead client’s daughter.  This is just offensive!

take thatPhoenix: Now you know the truth about the legal profession and just how shockingly accurate Terror Creatures From the Grave really is!

Overall, this was a stupid movie.  Visually, its ugly but I think its just the 856th generation copy on this DVD that was terrible.  The image quality was beyond poor, it seemed that whole frames were missing as the movie just cut from place to place.  The sound was so badly dubbed that it was damn near unwatchable.  The story is ridiculously stupid and full of plot holes that even an complete idiot would roll their eyes at.  Yes, legendary horror actress Barbara Steele is in here but she gives a performance that’s so sleepy she might as well have not even bothered to be on set when this movie was made.  The film actually has some decent reviews from other bloggers and nothing but positive comments on imdb.  So perhaps I am just being too cynical but I HATED this stupid movie.

Next up on the Pure Terror DVD set which I hope to get through quicker than it took me to drag myself through this, is Keep My Grave Open which sounds like an odd request nobody should ever fulfill.

About The Author
Matthew Coats
Matthew Coats
Formerly known under the pseudonym of Alex Jowski. Site owner, movie aficionado, and film school grad. Matthew Coats presents reviews, some written, some as vlogs, and some as weekly shows, for a variety of different movies and television shows. After years of struggling to get his own projects off the ground amidst the normal routine of living, Matthew Coats decided to create a site in order to share and promote movie reviews, video games and much much more from talented and original people all across the internet.

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