4 | Varied Celluloid - Page 27

Run and Kill

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 18 - 2011

Run and Kill (1993)
Director: Billy Tang
Writers: Bryan Chang
Starring: Kent Cheng, Danny Lee and Simon Yam



The Plot: Kent Cheng plays Fatty Cheung, an overweight businessman who loves his only daughter but is constantly bossed around by his cruel wife. When he comes home early one day he discovers his wife has been having an affair with a local store owner, and he is sent into a spiral of self despair. While drinking during a night out on the town, he confides his angst with a female patron at the bar and she informs him that she has a friend who will lay a beating on his wife and her lover for only a small fee. Being drunk at the time, Fatty agrees and when he meets with the hired muscle a misunderstanding arises. While trying to tell the goon that he wants his wife “dead drunk”, the man takes it to mean that Fatty wants his wife and her lover murdered. The killer then takes all of Fatty’s money as a down-payment for the $100,000 it will take to commit the murders. The next morning, when Fatty finally makes it home he finds his wife and her lover making out yet again. As he starts to discuss the issue with his wife, a gang of killers burst through the door and proceed to murder Fatty’s wife and her lover after knocking Fatty himself unconscious. Now, with the police watching his every move as they suspect him as the killer, Fatty must also contend with the criminal organization who ordered the hit, because they want their money.

The Review
Although Category III may simply be a rating within Hong Kong, in the minds of Hong Kong film fans the term CAT III will always bring about visions of a very specific time and era. That time and era was Hong Kong during the early to mid 90’s, when the CAT III rating truly came into its own and helped produce a new wave of highly exploitative titles. Films such as The Untold Story and Naked Killer were trashy and violent, but there were also films that were light-hearted and sexy for the most part. The film we are going to be discussing today however leans more towards the trashy and violent category, but in reality it is best described as mean and harrowing. Directed by “Bloody” Billy Tang, Run and Kill is an upsetting piece of work that is sure to challenge and disturb viewers but it isn’t without merit of technical prowess. Similar to Dr. Lamb from Tang, this is a movie that doesn’t play games.

From what I have gathered from the strange phenomena that is CAT III cinema, when these movies aren’t vividly portraying topless women from all angles they are showcasing the most bizarrely violent and mean spirited ideas that the human mind can possibly conjure up. Although Billy Tang doesn’t have a massive library of shockers to choose from, the few movies that he contributed to the world of CAT III cinema has definitely made an impression on all who have watched his work. While Dr. Lamb was certainly a nasty bit of serial killer cinema, Run and Kill takes things to a whole other level of depravity. The third act is what features the majority of all violence, but after the movie is over chances are you won’t remember much else other than the final twenty minutes anyway.

Kent Cheng leads this all star cast of genre film favorites, and he does an exceptional job in a role that I never imagined seeing him in. Overweight actors in the Hong Kong film industry are relatively obscure, which is likely why you see Kent Cheng, Eric Tsang and Suet Lam popping up so much. These actors are relegated to a certain amount of onscreen punishment due to their weight and are often the butt of many “fat jokes” throughout every movie they are in. Run and Kill is no different in that regard, as we see Kent Cheng take a considerable amount of name-calling. However, Cheng manages to take all of this and craft a genuine character in the midst of all the cinematic chaos that this movie manages to throw around.

Featuring a blowout cast, Run and Kill steps up to the plate in terms of actors involved. CAT III staples and legends Simon Yam and Danny Lee both show up playing their usual psychopath and detective characters, respectively. However Kent Cheng is the real standout here as he manages to leave his regular “character actor” position behind for a little while and steps into the role of a leading man with relative ease. His performance is addictive from the start and we the audience can’t help but feel sympathy for this man as he has his heart ripped out of his chest and then stabbed with a dull butter-knife. Cheng has great onscreen chemistry with the majority of the cast, but the moments spent between he and his child are the real selling points. The two seem to get along great and we see how much this character loves his child right from the introduction. The torment and horrors that follow him become all the more aching due to this sentimental touch.

I will concede that the general plot isn’t something totally unique, that’s for sure. There are plenty of movies out there that deal with a “regular Joe” being absorbed into the world of crime, but there are few that take the parable to the extremes that Run and Kill does. That level of depravity and psychosis which seems to decorate our film today is what makes it such an interesting little film. Although it isn’t something that I am going to recommend for all audiences, due to the content, but I do have to say that there is more to the movie than simply the grit and the grime. Beautifully shot and well acted… this is a well made film, on top of being a straight up piece of disgusting trash!

I do not want to recommend this film to the gorehounds out there looking for dismemberments, as I think those audiences would be more than a little disappointed with a title such as this one. The CAT III genre isn’t one that I normally associate with extreme “gore” anyway, since most of the time the disturbing factor in these films are their ideas and not necessarily what they “show” you. Run and Kill features a bit of both, however. Never shying away from violence, but never going to the grotesque limits that many splatter movies would, Run and Kill is instead a very intense and sordid character piece that will leave you haunted and utterly destroyed by the time the credits role.


The Conclusion
I really can’t recommend this one enough. Although it’s a movie that is made for a decidedly niche audience, there are more film fans out there who would really get something out of this than you might at first think. A dark and gritty piece of work, check out Run and Kill if you’re looking for a really fantastic piece of transgressive filmmaking that will actually challenge you as a viewer.




Grand Theft Auto

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 13 - 2011

Grand Theft Auto (1977)
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Ron Howard and Rance Howard
Starring: Ron Howard, Nancy Morgan and Marion Ross



The Plot: Paula Powers (Nancy Morgan) is a beautiful young woman from a very accomplished family. When she brings home Sam Freeman (Ron Howard) and tells her family that the young couple will be married shortly, they do not react in the most sympathetic of manner. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as we see her family orders her to break it off with Sam and instead marry the very rich Collins Hedgeworth. Paula breaks away from her family and steals her father’s Rolls Royce and both she and Sam are then out on the run to Las Vegas in order for the two of them to be married. Unfortunately, Paula’s parents are just rich and psychotic enough to give chase all the way to Las Vegas and now the two are going to have to really jet down the highway in order to beat their pursuers. Making matters worse, Paula’s parents call up Collins Hedgeworth who offers a $25,000 reward in order to bring “his girl” back. Now everyone between Los Angeles and Las Vegas are looking for this couple. Along for the chase we have Collins, his parents, Paula’s parents, a street preacher, a gas station attendant, two mechanics and a radio announcer who simply wants the scoop! Prepare for auto-insanity!


The Review
Ron Howard has lead one of the most intriguing lives in the Hollywood system, there’s no question about that. Beginning his career as a child-actor on the Andy Griffith Show, followed by his star-making turn on the television program Happy Days. What provided his legendary career span though would obviously be his turn as a director which would see him continue working for several decades longer, and also see him win an Oscar sometime later on. However, it was during his stint with New World Pictures, where he would work with Roger Corman, that would see him cut his teeth as a director and start this new life behind the camera. This Ron Howard Action Pack from Shout! Factory, which features both Grand Theft Auto and Eat My Dust, delivers both the films that would start this new career of his, and through the special features on the double disc set, as well as the stories behind this transition.

Ron Howard may not seem like the go-to guy to star in an action packed film dealing with car chases, but the seventies were certainly a very different time and era. People were more willing to experiment during these times and although we still shades of such things today (with Michael Cera starring in titles such as Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World), few smaller framed actors would be thrown in such roles during modern times. As we saw in Eat My Dust, Howard was the sort of actor who could make anything work. With Grand Theft Auto, Howard is back a year later and has grown his hair out in the same manner that he continually threatened throughout the previously mentioned film. His general look is far more hipster-like and his character is certainly far different than the one he portrayed in the previous film. His hip’ness is felt seeping through the camera as he asks Nancy Morgan to pull over so the two can “fool around”. Although he still has fears of his own inadequacy at times, the character seems much more down to earth.

The broad comedy of Eat My Dust (and later on, Smokey Bites the Dust) certainly makes a triumphant return here.This can be a good thing or this can be a bad thing when it comes to slapstick comedy, so the audience usually has a fifty-fifty shot of gathering up a movie that is worth some value and although the comedy in Grand Theft Auto isn’t always on pitch its most assuredly in the better half. There are still some really strong and broadly drawn characters that walk beyond the line of “satirical” and are simply “stereotypical”. Characters such as the maniacal street preacher and every last one of the “rich” family members who are continually speaking with their bottom jaw puckered as far outward as is conceivably possible, they are the worst examples of this low-brow sensibility. The comedy remains over the top but it is also just witty enough that we can have faith in the filmmakers to take us into something interesting.

Ron Howard, who made his directorial debut here, shows a veteran skill despite being a novice at the time. Knowing that he would be doing so much behind the scenes, it was a smart idea for the director to have such a gigantic ensemble cast. An ensemble cast that would feature numerous Roger Corman regulars as well as Howard’s own father Rance Howard and his brother Clint, who both feature prominently in the movie. Howard establishes this large ensemble role so that he doesn’t have to direct himself throughout much of the picture, and he himself is only featured throughout the movie in tiny bits and pieces. His role doesn’t seem as large as many of the character bits throughout, but when he is onscreen sharing time with Nancy Morgan he does make the most of it. The small moments between Howard and Morgan make tue heart of the movie and ultimately give us reason to root for these two lovebirds.

Featuring more action than in any Roger Corman produced car chase movie I have seen yet, I give total credit to Howard for crafting such an exciting feature on his very first production. Exploding bridges, exploding cars and an innumerable amount of wrecked automobiles, Howard certainly didn’t pick a very “easy” movie for his first time in the director’s seat. The young director even handles tension exceedingly well as he stages a game of “chicken” between a Rolls Royce and a helicopter in a sequence that looks to put an end to our characters. This scene in particular has always been the single image that defines Grand Theft Auto and is one that will likely remain in the public conscious longer than anything else in the production.


The Conclusion
This isn’t a perfect movie, not by any stretch of the imagination. That broad comedy can and potentially will drive the audience batty. The time spent away from the leads in Ron Howard and Nancy Morgan could very well prove to be an issue as well. However, I have to give credit where credit is due, amongst the number of action-comedies that feature such huge ensemble casts, Grand Theft Auto remains one of the most entertaining. Give it a look and check out the Ron Howard Action Pack, since you really can’t beat the deal!




Kickboxer’s Tears

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 10 - 2011

Kickboxer’s Tears (1992)
Director: Shen Da Wei
Writers: Shen Da Wei (???)
Starring: Moon Lee, Ken Lo, Billy Chow and Yukari Oshima



The Plot: Michael Li (Ken Lo) is a kickboxer whose sister is fresh back in town. His sister, Feng Li (Moon Lee) who has never approved of his fighting ways, makes it just in time to catch one of his matches for a seedy promoter who wants him to throw his fight. This evil promoter tells Michael in no short order that if he doesn’t throw his fight, he’s going to pay big time. During the fight, all seems well until Michael’s opponent (Billy Chow) rubs down his glove with chili powder and begins to batter Michael with it. During the fight Michael is blinded and then beaten to death right in front of his sister. After the funeral Feng sticks around in order to help out her brother’s gym, but the seedy promoter hasn’t finished with the Li family. Unknown to him though, Feng Li isn’t one to be trifled with!

The Review
I never realized how much I enjoyed watching women kick butt until I recently stumbled upon She Shoots Straight, but that movie really made a world of difference for me. The closest I had ever come to anything like it was watching Michelle Yeoh’s stunt-crazy performance in Police Story III, but if there are movies out there that feature tough women trying to compete with the men and succeeding at it – then you can always count me in. Kickboxer’s Tears marks my personal introduction to the beautiful and brilliant Moon Lee who made her name during the 80’s and 90’s as a tough, no-nonsense action heroine who took part in some pretty outlandish stunts. Including a noted explosion on the set of Devil Hunters (1980) that would cover her in burns.

While Kickboxer’s Tears doesn’t look to be one of Moon Lee’s most dangerous productions, it is infinitely entertaining as a piece of early nineties Hong Kong action. Made during the height of 90’s martial arts cinema, which saw the entire genre being upgraded to modern settings and brought upon the revitalization of Kung Fu cinema in general, this is a film that delivers in all of the right ways. Featuring dynamic fight sequences, an amazing cast and plenty of onscreen violence; Kickboxer’s Tears is a film that was guaranteed to deliver. Pairing Moon Lee with the incredible Yukari Oshima (AKA: the male gang-boss from Ricky Oh: The Story of Ricky that looked a LOT like a girl… and was a girl) together, this is a project that had a whole lot going for it. The two starred together in other titles before, but this was one that really paired the two together in a “unstoppable force meets movable object” type of dynamic. You throw Billy Chow and some unusually disturbing bits of violence in the midst of the action, and you have a potential classic!

A very strong piece of Hong Kong action, Kickboxer’s Tears partially belongs to the “girls with guns” subgenre of HK action cinema mixed with a more traditional form of martial arts cinema. The big difference from your average piece of Kung Fu is the modernization of traditional martial arts away from both the “period” setting as well as the “street combat” that was and is quite popular. Not that the fight choreography has changed up that much from most films of the time, but the “Kickboxing” back-drop for the movie provides a “new” factor. The setting for the movie is based around the world of semi-professional kickboxing, which is an interesting thing to see because it isn’t an area that one immediately equates with Chinese martial arts. The number of Kung Fu artists within K1 (the world most premiere mixed-Kickboxing organization) are very slim and outside of San Shou the western world has seen very little from China’s legendary fighters within modern times.

That doesn’t mean that Kickboxer’s Tears demonstrates some hidden form of martial arts, not in the least. The choreography is very much what one expects from your average Kung Fu feature, but only this time the fighters are wearing shorts and traditional kickboxing garb. The choreography is still the same back and forth (punch, block, punch, block) set-up that you expect from choreographed Kung Fu, but its certainly of the more exciting and fast-paced variety. When the girls take to fighting, in particular, the choreography seems all the more brutal. Moon Lee is the standout from the performers and she truly holds the weight of the film on her back. In terms of her athletic and acting performance, she is the solid rock foundation that the film rests upon and she makes this the exciting piece of action cinema that it truly is.

Listed as a CAT III title of all things, Kickboxer’s Tears features very little of the excessive violence or sex that one seems to expect from the genre. The rating is a bit perplexing to be honest, but I can sort of see where it comes from. The goriest and most shocking sequences in the movie are very small in terms of screen time, but the violence that is here is a bit on the disturbed side. There are some brutal moments that generally involve a box-cutter and some severe spinal cord damage, but this isn’t a title that I would recommend primarily for the on-screen violence.

Part of what makes the movie as memorable as it was for me is the utterly terrible English dub that I watched the movie with. Terrible in all of the ways that make a bad movie “great”, Kickboxer’s Tears packs a considerable amount of really fun dialog. “Stay close to him, and then jab, punch!” may be my favorite line throughout the movie. In the context of the scene, which is during the first kickboxing sequence (which is awfully long, by the way), there are so many things wrong with the line. For one, the two fighters are keeping within range throughout the course of the fight and never step out into jabbing distance. There are no pecking shots thrown from the shoulder, because jabbing doesn’t exactly translate to an “exciting” fight. Just look at Floyd Mayweather Jr. (oh, I went there). Second of all, a jab IS A PUNCH! I’m sure the dialogue was meant to be “jab, hook”, “jab, uppercut” or maybe “jab, straight” but I guess the filmmakers weren’t very knowledgeable about martial arts or the fight game in general.

The Conclusion
Kickboxer’s Tears isn’t a perfect movie by a longshot. In fact, even as a piece of Kung Fu cinema it has issues. The fight sequence between Yukari Oshima and Moon Lee is far too short and doesn’t have the impact that most audience members might expect after the entire movie seems to pit these two against one another. Then there’s that dreadfully long kickboxing match during the first half of the movie, where we see nearly an entire match round-by-round. These are minor inconveniences however, as the overall product is of a high quality standard. I can’t help but recommend the movie, because I haven’t had this much fun with a movie in quite a while. Check it out!




Son of Paleface

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 6 - 2011

Son of Paleface (1952)
Director: Frank Tashlin
Writers: Frank Tashlin, Joseph Quillan and Robert L. Welch
Starring: Bob Hope, Roy Rogers and Jane Russell



The Plot: Bob Hope plays Peter “Paleface” Potter, Jr., a Harvard man who has left school to head back home out west during the turn of the 20th century. His father has recently passed away and has left what appears to be a very large inheritance for Junior, but appearances can be deceiving. The senior Potter, before he died, had collected a rather large number of debts throughout the local community and when Potter goes to collect his inheritance at the bank… he finds nothing but an empty box! Knowing that he’ll be ripped apart if he confesses that there is no inheritance, Junior simply pretends that the inheritance was even more vast than anyone could have imagined. While Junior is forced to put up this charade, a local bandit has an eye on Potter’s money. Mike “The Torch” Delroy (played by the beautiful Jane Russell) is the leader of a rough and tough band of outlaws, but being a lovely young woman she figures she can better take advantage of Potter by using her feminine ways instead of simply pointing a gun. While she heads into town to trick Junior into falling in love, she finds that special agent Roy Barton (Roy Rogers) has been placed on her tail and knows precisely what she and her gang are up to!

The Review
Few characters have so bred themselves as deeply into the American culture as Bob Hope did within his extremely long lifetime. An actor, comedian, singer and all around entertainer, with his life he left us a great deal of treasures. A comedian with a very distinct style, his wit was often sarcastic and would break the fourth wall. His influence can be felt throughout so much of modern comedy, even to this day his contributions are seen in modern cinema. His philanthropy and generosity is well regarded, making the man nearly as beloved as the character he would portray onscreen. When he died we all came to really know just how special a person he was. I know that I personally revisited his work and realized just how well regarded he was in his constant USO trips whenever US troops were stationed overseas. A beloved man, his work in film has been left behind outside of his particular circle of fans, but now Shout! Factory is releasing much of his library on home DVD. Son of Paleface is actually a sequel to Hope’s previous film The Paleface (1948) and shows Hope at his wittiest. Although it is certain that this sort of comedy isn’t going to appeal to all audiences, more people would probably enjoy Bob Hope’s work if they actually got over the fact that it’s from 1952 and simply gave the movie some time.

I’ve always had a vague appreciation for Hope’s work, but generally I knew him more as a personality outside of cinema than from his actual work in front of the camera. He is a man that became bigger than any one single film of his own, and the same could be said of his cast-mate Roy Rogers. Rogers was the epitome of the early cinematic cowboy, when film didn’t really try its very hardest to directly reflect what life was like for the real citizens of the wild west. One look at Roy Rogers with his flamboyantly colorful outfits and today’s cinema-go’ers will likely laugh their heads off, but there is definitely something about Rogers that any fan of movies can get. He’s that onscreen character who may not delve into a dark place in order to recite his lines with passion, but he remains convicted in his performance. Here, with Son of Paleface, he is at his most austere and confident. Riding along with him is Trigger, his famed horse who actually dances during one of Rogers’ many musical sequences. A musical sequence that is soon turned into pure comedic insanity as Bob Hope wanders into town driving an automobile, spewing mud over the entire town, while disrupting a large gathering of people who have came to hear Rogers sing. The sequence is utterly cheesy in its frantic delivery of Bob Hope’s comedy, but it works in establishing the charge that the rest of the movie would then hope to follow.

Also along for the ride is the beautiful Jane Russell who is an actress that I am ashamedly unfamiliar with outside of her name and popularity. Russell is about as seductive as any one woman can get, but also shows a great deal of strength, as we watch her character constantly out-think both Hope and Rogers as the story progresses onward. Her character is the tough cowgirl who is as quick to rob you as she is to shake your hand and her character actually manages to come across as a very empowered woman. This is something rather unexpected, as the movie does sort of deliver on many of the pre-conceived notions that we have about 1950’s Hollywood. The way that Native Americans are portrayed is of course potentially-offensive, but I find that it is always best to watch older films such as this with your judgement-meter turned down ever so slightly because there’s no telling what you or others might think about modern films in fifty years or so. With that said, one reliable aspect about comedy from this era is that it captured that perfect level of absurdity that could really make slapstick like this so much fun. Similar to the work of The Three Stooges or The Marx Brothers from earlier, Son of Paleface features some really cartoonish and over the top comedic bits throughout its run-time.

Bob Hope is the ultimate star of this movie however, as he really steps up to the plate in order to deliver comedic gold. I was actually surprised with how absurd much of the comedy was to be honest. You think of strange and slightly off-kilter humor as if it were some kind of newly crafted device from our own generation, but Hope actually showcased a flare for the non-sequitur. While most of the movie may head in a uniform pattern, every now and then Hope will slip in some bizarre bit of surrealist comedy that hardly seems on topic but is never the less entirely hilarious. The movie is rife with such moments and Bob Hope is there to keep things as far away from being “grounded in reality” as he possibly can.


The Conclusion
As I started this review off, I have to say that there are going to be a strict number of people who will be opposed to liking this movie regardless of what the content actually provides. However, I ask that viewers keep an open mind and they may just find a delightfully funny piece of comedy that seems quite ahead of its time. I give it a four out of five, on pure entertainment levels!




Horror Rises From the Tomb

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 3 - 2011

Horror Rises From the Tomb (1973)
Director: Carlos Aured
Writers: Paul Naschy
Starring: Paul Naschy, Emma Cohen and Víctor Alcázar



The Plot: Our story begins in France, 1454 when practitioners of black magic Aleric de Marnac and Mabille DeLancré are sentenced to death by Aleric’s brother Armand and his friend Andre Roland. Before they are killed, the warlocks curse the execution grounds and the names of their executioners, vowing to wreak their revenge when a relative of Armand de Marnac befriends a relative of Andre Roland. We then cut to France, 1973: Maurice Roland, a local painter, is attempting to piece together his latest work but he never comes close enough to finishing it. His good friend Hugo de Marnac and their girlfriends Paula and Sylvia eventually spend some time together with a couple who tell them of a great psychic. Hugo denies the abilities of the psychic so everyone else pitches in to prove him wrong by going to a séance hosted by the psychic. After a spiritual encounter with the severed head of Aleric de Marnac who tells them of his burial ground, Hugo is still unconvinced; to try and prove he’s right, he offers to drive the group up to his old country home where, according to legend, Mabille and Aleric were executed and buried. Maurice agrees to go as well after he finally completes the painting: A cloaked, decapitated figure holding the severed head of his friend Hugo. The two men and their lovers head out to the estate, following a trail drawn by the relentless curse that promises the rise of the two warlocks once the head of Aleric is unearthed. Will our intrepid heroes survive?

The Review
Horror Rises From the Tomb is one of those kind of Horror movies that carries a lot of entertainment value for several reasons. While certainly maintaining the gruesomeness and brutality required for a good Horror flick, it also carries a solid story arc, a lot of build-up and decent characters to present themselves. Yet, despite this, the presentation value and overall quality is so under-budgeted and unintentionally silly that the movie works in a party setting as well; Horror Rises is the kind of film you can watch seriously, yet still manage to get a good laugh out of it and never feel like a moron for doing so.

First, I have to say it’s always a little odd watching a movie about people being accused of witchcraft and demon summoning being put to death. I always remind myself of how many innocent people in history were killed because of another group’s dogma and beliefs… but in these spiritual Horror movies it always turns out the people being put to death really WERE black magic users and they demonstrate this by cursing their executioners (see also The Devonsville Terror). I bring this up mostly because the opening narration in the movie leads us to believe Aleric and Mabille aren’t really evil doers and that many people in Europe were killed for suspected witchcraft. Well, inappropriate opening narration aside, this movie’s not too bad.

As I said before, the movie has good build-up to it. We get to know our four main characters a little bit before the warlock’s curse is unearthed; everyone is fleshed out pretty well save for the character Sylvia who is honestly just a morality booster with a pretty face along for the ride. The acting overall is what you’d expect in a low budget Spanish Horror film: it’s good, but you get this feeling of archetypes being used a lot in the film. I’ve seen a few Spanish Horror films now and it seems that there’s always a group of characters who are often killed by their own avarice or motivated entirely by greed. It’s like watching an Italian movie and the characters at one point have to talk about vinegar as a primary recipe.

Most character reactions are relatively believable, though. If anything the character of Elvira (one of the house servants that Hugo grew up with) is a little stoic throughout the movie mostly when she has to show sadness. Hugo comes across as a bit of a jerk, but he’s a responsible one. Plus, Hugo is played by the film’s writer, the late/great Paul Naschy, a Spanish novelist/director/actor/light weight champion who produced and acted in several Spanish Horror films. The man had a competent screen presence, and he comes across as a somewhat likable hero in this. Granted, Paul also plays the villain Aleric de Marnac and once again proves to be a good performer in that role, too. He looks pretty intimidating in a cloak and spirit gum and he’s got the crazy eyes necessary for a mystically evil character. Honestly, seeing Naschy as the villain in this movie makes me think he’d play a Shakespearean character very well.

While the acting and dialogue is painless, exposition pulls a little overtime here. After the first spiritual killing spree in the movie, Hugo and Maurice talk about how the mayor and gendarme of the village won’t help them look into the crimes, how the local kids hate their arrival, how the town drunk knows something about what’s going, but we never see any of this.

The cinematography isn’t too bad. The director knows where to point the camera and there are a lot of decent shots. There are several moments though where the camera shakes around as if this were a shot-on-video movie. There are a few questionable scenes in it, like when Hugo and Maurice leave the house armed with a shotgun in hand but they do this for no reason; the next time we see them, they’re in their PJs! There is also one awkward scene near the end where Mabille and Aleric are heavily petting a scantily clad woman they have captive and the scene goes on for about two minutes, again, for no reason. The music that plays is really intense, but there’s no nudity in the scene or anything intensely sexual or any connection to later or current events; I know it’s just padding, but for a movie about warlock related phenomena, you’d think a scene like that would be something plot related.

As a European Horror movie from the seventies, the movie is quite brutal. Most of the female victims will end up getting their tops ripped off before getting killed (you may notice I can’t show most of the gore because of shots like that). The gore effects are pretty decent as well and definitely show a better budget in that department than the rubber bats used for the cavern scenes. However most other death scenes come down to throat slashing and a few off-screen heart-rippings. The death scenes do get a little cheap, though. The first time someone gets their heart ripped out in the movie it happens almost too quick; I can understand someone with mystical powers ripping into another person’s chest cavity and pulling their still-beating heart out (like when Mabille does it, or in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), but an ordinary person with a farm tool… that’s a bit of a reach, even for this movie. Truthfully, that’s nothing compared to when a human body gets reduced to a skeleton wearing a wig or when a guy dies from an intense back scratching; if the latter were the case, my ex would’ve killed me years ago!

Of course, this being a Spanish Horror film released in the states, it’s got its share of dubbing, but thankfully it’s decent. The dub actors play it straight throughout the whole movie, though occasionally, there will be one actor who sounds a little like a pirate. The goofiest performance out of them though has to be the monotone Hispanic voice for Aleric who is supposed to be dark and intimidating. It doesn’t help either that the first time we see him in the present day, he’s a severed head in a box giving orders to the possessed. *

Then there’s the soundtrack. The music in this movie is really something to behold. The soundtrack relies mostly on organ music not unlike Gene Moore’s work in Carnival of Souls, but without the talent. The organ music here carries many Roller Rink sounds to it and is often followed by a relentless wood instrument. The music gets so over the top and fantastical to the point where it sounds like soap opera music. The love theme between Maurice and Paula in particular was pretty goofy. Throughout the movie, I couldn’t keep myself from quipping: ‘Will Elvira be the next of Aleric’s victims? And Will Maurice ever change out of his pink sweater? Tune in tomorrow to find out on the next exciting and touching episode of Days of our Warlocks.’

There’s even a weird scene with Hugo and Elvira where the music is edited awkwardly: the soundtrack kicks in with this inappropriately spooky music and just stops abruptly. The only time the soundtrack works is with the second-long musical stingers. Regardless, the soundtrack was recorded so high and played so intensely, the audio will more than likely cause you to jump out of your seat and reach for the Volume Down button.

Something I thought was unique about the movie was the ancient relic used to ward off the warlock’s evil. Instead of the usual crucifix, the heroes uncover a talisman from Nordic mythology. Okay, it’s kind of weird a holy relic of Nordic mythology would be in France, but it’s still a much welcome break from the standard. Now while the story is interesting and not badly conceived, I couldn’t help but wonder why Mabille and Aleric, two hated and despised Warlocks, were given tombs? I understand burying Aleric’s head from his body in a separate place, but cavernous tombs for criminals?


The Conclusion
In summation though, Horror Rises from the Tomb is a fun Horror movie. It’s a little hard to take it seriously sometimes, but it’s in those times you can get a genuinely good-laugh out of the movie. Plus it’s got an easy story to follow that was pretty well written with a lot of violence, nudity and a random zombie invasion, so it’s all the more recommendable.




*: Curse of the Brain That Wouldn’t Die… I like that



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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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