Monday, December 12, 2011

EL ESPANTO SURGE DE LA TUMBA/ HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB 1972

Cast: Paul Naschy (Alaric de Marnac, Hugo De Marnac), Helga Line (Mabille de Lancre), Emma Cohen (Elvira), Victor Winner/Alcazar (Maurice Roland), Cristina Suriani (Paula), Betsabee Sharon (Sylvia), Julio Pena (Jean), Luis Ciges (Alain), Elsa Zabala, Maria-Jose Cantudo
Director: Carlos Aured
Screenplay: Jacinto Molina
Photography: Manuel Merino

Music: Carmelo Bernaola
Production Company:
Profilmes (Spain)

Running time: 90 min.
Eastmancolor
U.S. theatrical release: ?
Video: U.S. release on Charter, as HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB; and on Alpha Video (EP speed; sell-through)

Review: If I were to recommend any one Paul Naschy film to a first time viewer, EL ESPANTO SURGE DE LA TUMBA (HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB) would be it. The movie embraces the common theme of many a Naschy film--purity versus the profane. And, in this case, the age old battle is ably portrayed by a fine cast of actors including Naschy, Emma Cohen, Helga Line and Vic Winner, supported by a credible script from Naschy which encompasses all the classic gore and erotica one has come to expect in his films.
You say you want nudity and sex--you got it. You want some romance, as well--you got that too. Heavy lesbian overtones--got ya covered, pal. A seance, car wreck, hanging, beheading, whipping, bandits, cannibalism, scythe murders, the walking dead, a magic talisman along with mayhem galore--no problem. Let’s face it, this film has everything but the kitchen sink. Hey, wait a minute, there is a kitchen sink!
EL ESPANTO SURGE DE LA TUMBA is a landmark film for Naschy. Directed with style by Carlos Aured and released by Profilmes SA in 1972, this was the first of eight films Naschy would make for them; films that were some of the most significant of his career. Of these eight, he wrote seven of the scripts under his real name of Jacinto Molina. After EL ESPANTO SURGE DE LA TUMBA, Naschy and Aured would go on to make three more Profilmes productions together.
In the intervening years, EL ESPANTO SURGE DE LA TUMBA has achieved status as one of Spain’s top horror classics. Truly remarkable since Naschy has stated that the basic script was written in a day and a half. But, for all that, it is well detailed, with a complicated plot and interesting characters.
Another element that helps build the film’s moody atmosphere is Carmelo Bernaola’s score. Played entirely on the organ, the music has a very gothic feel to it and is somewhat reminiscent of the style of early 50s television organist, Korla Pandit. Though not to my particular taste, the music does work well within the context of the film.
A major part of EL ESPANTO SURGE DE LA TUMBA was shot at the Molina family estate in Lozoya del Valle. The lovely old country house overlooks Lake Lozoya and the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, the film was shot in the dead of winter which gives the landscape a depressingly bleak appearance that does not truly do justice to the beauty of the region. On the plus side, the use of the house, grounds and surrounding locations leaves the impression of a more lavish budget than actually existed.
Naschy has the opportunity to test his acting metal in this one. As Alaric de Marnac he is strong and vengeful, an evil and cunning force to be dealt with. As Hugo de Marnac he is obviously privileged and spoiled; this has made him selfish and weak which leads to his eventual doom. He is convincing in both characterizations.
This is the first film where the character of Alaric de Marnac appears and is based on the historic figure of Gilles de Rais whom Naschy scripted and portrayed in EL MARISCAL DEL INFIERNO. Alaric would also be revived, though mostly as an ominous presence is LATIDOS DE PANICO where he once again wrecked havoc on the unworthy bearers of his name.
In the late 15th century, Alaric de Marnac and Mabille de Lancre are put to death for a list of heinous crimes including human sacrifice, cannibalism and practicing witchcraft and black magic. Alaric is beheaded, while Mabille is whipped before being executed. Before dying, Alaric curses his betrayers--Andre Roland and his own brother, Armand de Marnac. Five hundred years later, Hugo de Marnac and his artist friend, Maurice Roland, ancestors of the men responsible for Alaric’s death, set the wheels of revenge in motion. By film’s end, everyone is dead save Elvira, Hugo’s childhood sweetheart. And even she is left shell-shocked and wandering aimlessly.
Alaric and Mabille must have been a fun couple on a Saturday night. After they are revived they proceed to kill various members of the de Marnac household in order to consume their still warm, blood-filled hearts. Only in this way can they attain their full powers. They even venture into the local village to forage for fresh victims. But cannibalism isn’t their only diversion.
One of the film’s most erotic moments takes place in the Marnac family tomb. There Alaric and Mabille seductively play with a captive Paula, Maurice’s girlfriend, using her as their pleasure toy. Mabille caresses and kisses Paula’s semi-nude body as Alaric excitedly looks on with approval. And, as Mabille kneels, working her way further down Paula’s body, Alaric engulfs them in the dark, shrouding folds of his cape, wrapping it around them like the great wings of Chernobog.
The interesting part of Alaric’s and Mabille’s relationship is that it doesn’t seem based on sex, but rather their mutually shared pleasure in directing their perversity toward others.
When Alaric sacrifices Sylvia, Hugo’s current girlfriend, to bring Mabille back to life, he lays her unconscious body in the coffin with Mabille’s skeleton. He pierces Sylvia’s heart with the scythe and then spreads himself out over the dead body. A moment later he pulls back to reveal a skeleton beneath him and the fully restored Mabille at the bottom of this curious Oreo sandwich. Even as he draws Mabille from the casket, they share no more than an carnivorous grin. Later in the film they venture into the local village. There they each seduce then kill their lovers after which they rend the living hearts from their victims, devouring the organs in a final act of consummation. They are cold, cruel and ruthless in their nefarious acts, yet Alaric is truly distressed at the moment he senses Mabille’s death. Theirs is a curious relationship but certainly no less strong or committed than other couples.
There are several versions of this movie floating around. The original release from Charter Entertainment is the best quality and it’s full length with all ‘the naughty bits’ intact. This appears to be the version also released by Sinister Cinema though down another generation. There are other companies selling this tape as well, but I have not seen these versions to know quality or completeness. The two Alpha Video releases each have different covers and have been snipped, clipped and sanitized for your inconvenience. However, the 1995 release from Alpha does have a cool photo cover of Naschy and if you can find it remaindered for $5-10 it’s worth it for the box.
--Denetia Arellanes

No comments: