A Blu-ray collection worthy of a horror genre icon.
Scream Factory continues to celebrate genre cinema new and old with their monthly Blu-ray titles, and this week they’re returning to a format previously applied to the films of Vincent Price and Larry Fessenden with the release of The Paul Naschy Collection. The set brings together five of Naschy’s films celebrating his talents as a performer and sometime writer/director. The five Blu-rays feature HD transfers and a small handful of extra features.
Keep reading for a look at each of the five films.
Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973)
A warlock (Paul Naschy) is beheaded in medieval times, but that doesn’t mean he’s done wreaking havoc on those around him. Hundreds of years later in the present day (of the early 70s) a group of friends and lovers discover the decapitated noggin at their remote country estate, and it’s not long before they’ve restored it to life triggering new carnage. The warlock begins to take control of both the living and the dead in search of his lower half, and he’ll leave no stone unturned, no bodice untorn, and no flesh unopened.
Naschy wrote this one while handing off directing duties to Carlos Aured, and the result is an absolute blast of a horror film. It’s a gory, sexy, and exciting ride that moves quickly from engaging setup to survival horror as the victims to be find themselves trapped on the estate grounds by the encroaching darkness. Evil gets nearer its goal as the survivor pool dwindles, and we’re given a front-row seat to the bloody shenanigans.
The extras on Scream Factory’s disc are a trailer, a Spanish opening credit crawl, and alternate clothed sequences, which, let’s be real here, are a supplement destined to never be watched. We also get a new commentary from the guys behind the NaschyCast podcast.
Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)
A mystical Indian (Naschy) uses his powers to resurrect dead women and make them do his bidding. Unfortunately for those around him that bidding is bloody revenge. They’re not the only ones committing murder though as a masked killer is also roaming the streets leaving a skeptic (Naschy, again) forced to confront the powers of evil.
While again written by Naschy and directed by someone else (Leon Klimovsky this time around) this effort is a far less successful one. It’s a dull and often meandering affair even with topless women aplenty to distract the eye. The masked killer is far more active than the occasional zombie-ish carnage, and the makeup used to bring the dead to life leaves a lot to be desired. A dream sequence featuring the devil (Naschy, yet again) breathes brief life into it, but it’s not enough to hold the film together. Also, and this is a personal preference, I’m never all that keen on real animal violence even in dated material.
Like Horror Rises from the Tomb, this disc includes a trailer, a Spanish credits sequence, and clothed versions of the film’s nude scenes.
The Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1974)
Gilles (Naschy) is an ex-con who’s on the run from both his past and the constant dreams where he strangles women. He’s picked up while hitchhiking and hired on as caretaker at a large house occupied by three very different sisters. One’s carefree, one’s maimed, and the last is confined to a wheelchair, so of course he’s stuck only sleeping with two of them. The fun doesn’t last long though as his arrival coincides with a string of murders.
Naschy and Aured co-wrote this entry with the latter returning to direct, and it eschews the supernatural to solid result. The film sits as a nod towards emulating Italy’s giallo films, and while it starts a bit slow it develops into an intriguing whodunnit leading to a fun reveal and denouement. The film does step up the animal violence though with the loud and bloody slaughter of a real pig.
Special features are limited to trailers, the alternate Spanish credit sequence, and a new commentary by the NaschyCast podcast guys.
Human Beasts (1980)
A hit man (Naschy) double crosses his Japanese lover and Yakuza partners after a violent robbery, but he’s wounded in the fiery exchange. He escapes and awakes in the care of a doctor, his two grown daughters, and their housekeeper. With his ex-partners on his trail, he finds himself stuck between revenge-seeking Japanese killers and the kindness of strangers. Yes of course he sleeps with the daughters.
Another entry that eschews the supernatural in favor of the evils that men and women do, this is a bleak and nihilistic affair that still manages to entertain for those who can stomach the darkness. Naschy writes and directs, and he opens the film strong with some thrilling action sequences before calming things down back at the house. The calm is short-lived though as sex, murder, and the whipping of a black maid soon rear their head. The punishment scene is meant to offend before it shifts gears towards titillation, and a later sex scene is intercut with pigs eating a trespasser. There are humorous beats here, especially if you lean dark in your comedic tastes, but the film as a whole is a bleak affair with no one to root for. It’s for the best though as so few of them live. (And again, pigs.)
The only extra here is a trailer.
Night of the Werewolf (1981)
A werewolf (Naschy) is put to death in the middle ages alongside a witch, but when she returns centuries later to continue her murderous ways the only one capable of stopping her is the hairy guy. He’s resurrected too and the bloodshed intensifies until only one is left standing.
There’s a definite Hammer vibe to this one, again written and directed by Naschy, and the atmosphere goes a long way towards building an engrossing feature. There are some solid set-pieces too as Naschy’s wolfman makes his rounds and the vampiric enemy makes hers. It’s the most competently-produced of the five films here in its production and score, but it lacks some of the punch of the earlier films. The film was the last of Naschy’s nine werewolf titles.
This final disc features another NaschyCast commentary, deleted scenes, a trailer, and Spanish credits sequences.
The Paul Naschy Collection represents my first forays into the world of Naschy’s extensive oeuvre, and while a few are mixed bags I already count myself as a big fan of both Horror Rises from the Tomb and Human Beasts. These two alone have me excited to dig deeper into his filmography, and I’m hoping Scream Factory finds enough interest in the set to make them move forward on a second volume.