Horror Rises From the Tomb
Director: Carlos Aured
Stars: Paul Naschy, Emma Cohen, Victor Alcazar
The film opens in medieval France and it already looks like it’s going to be a chore to watch. The video quality is sub-par and the image is constantly jumping around the frame. Every shot ends with the most brutal of cuts, making it look as if the film strip was edited with a rusty pair of old sewing scissors and some masking tape after a cat had chewed on it for awhile. Anyway, we see Alaric de Marnac (Paul Naschy in one of 3 roles) and his mistress Mabille (Helga Line) being executed for some terrible crimes. This isn’t just a Spanish Inquisition witch-hunt execution either, these two people were up to some seriously evil things: Cannibalism, vampirism, associating with known lycanthropes. Alaric’s head is to be severed from his body and buried separately so there will be no chance of him finding resurrection were his head ever to magically reattach itself to his body. Mabille, on the other hand, is just hanged and tortured. As they swear to get their revenge we get our first glance at how BAD the dubbing in this film is. The dialogue doesn’t come close to being in synch with the actors. Sometimes actors are reading lines when NOBODY in the scene is talking.
Well apparently Alaric and Mabille’s immediate plans for vengeance never really panned out because we’re suddenly thrust into modern day France. A group of wealthy and absolutely uninteresting people gather together and, on a whim, decide to have a seance. Honestly I was able to catch that one of these guys is Hugo (Paul Naschy in another role) and an artist named Maurice (Victor Alcazar). During this seance they contact the spirit of Alaric who drones endlessly with redundant lines like “They took my severed head from off of my body.” It would seem that Hugo, a wealthy landowner, is a descendant of Alaric and somewhere on a chalet he owns up in the mountains there just might be a treasure. So the gang hops in the car and goes off to do some digging.
The movie drags and is goddamn boring until they dig up this treasure. It’s then that stuff begins to get interesting. What is the treasure, why the severed head of Alaric of course. His “spirit” I suppose starts possessing people to murder others and carry out his dark wishes. The head even pops back to life and starts talking, telling people what to do in order to fully reanimate himself and Mabille in their dark ritual. Once they’ve been resurrected the happy couple wanders the nearby town killing everyone. It’s now up to Hugo, Maurice and the grounds keeper’s daughter Elvira to stop this ancient evil. There’s a lot of different horror motifs present here but Horror Rises From the Tomb does a great job of not falling into any of the cliches inherent in the genre.
I will give this movie credit for really trying to go all out with its horror motif. We’ve got vampire people in a dark pact with Satan, demon possession, a girl’s heart is ripped out during a black mass, people are having sex and even zombies jump into the action only to be burned “alive.” Granted the effects are pretty goofy-looking, the music is irritating and the acting is atrocious – but the spirit is still there; the creative drive and well-meant attempt to tell a good horror story is ever present. Horror Rises From the Tomb is original despite its many faults. One particular thing that grabbed my interest was what Alaric and Mabille are weak to. Instead of the Christian iconography such as crucifixes or holy water being used to ward off evil – Hugo and Elvira discover that these demon-people are weak to Norse artifacts. They find a pendant of Thor’s hammer. Vampires are stopped by the power of THOR!
Given what I’ve already seen on this DVD collection and what I know lies in store for me, I started Horror Rises From the Tomb with the lowest possible expectations and was pleasantly surprised. The production quality was terribly low and, at times, downright aggravating. However, between the jumpy frames and terrible cuts there was magic. This wasn’t some mess of cliches thrown together in an attempt to make a quick buck telling the same horror story over again – there was a sincere effort here to be original – it’s one of the few times where one can put aside the poor techincal aspects and just enjoy the movie for what is what meant to be – an original horror film. Horror Rises From the Tomb certainly offers a lot more fun than most of the “horror” filling multiplexes today. I really hope the rest of this DVD set has more gems like this film to offer