Monday, December 12, 2011

LA REBELION DE LAS MUERTAS/THE REBELLION OF THE DEAD WOMEN (English title: Vengeance of the Zombies) 1972

Cast: Paul Naschy (Krisna, Kantaka), Romy [Carmen Romero] (Elvira), Mirta Miller (Kala), Vic Winner [Victor Alcazar] (Lawrence), Maria Kosti (Elsie), Aurora de Alba (Olivia), Luis Ciges (Mac Murdo), Antonio Pica (the Commissioner), Elsa Zabala
Director: Leon Klimovsky
Screenplay: Jacinto Molina
Photography: Francisco Sanchez
Music: Juan Carlos Calderon
Production Company:
Profilmes (Spain)

Running time: 90 min.
U.S. title: VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES
Eastmancolor
U.S. theatrical release: An American double-bill poster sugggests a theatrical release in the U.S.
Video: All Seasons Entertainment
DVD: Video Paradise (Germany) - Region 2, PAL

Review of Laser Paradise DVD: And I thought the All Seasons' video looked good! Well, compared with this new DVD from Germany's Laser Paradise the old out-of-print video is grungy-looking affair of lifeless colors and smirching darkness. Simply put: this DVD, fulfilling the promise of the new medium, is amazing. It is not perfect, however. Artifacting hovers around a bit, and audio problems speckle the opening credit music. But the colors are bright, clear, invigorating, and the widescreen transfer scopes out the film with an affirmative sense of composition and integrity that is nowhere to be found in the full frame video version.
Curiosities reveal themselves: The night scenes appear in a pleasing radiant blue, a result, I'm guessing, of day for night transfers. (In the All Seasons' version these scenes are either dark night or, briefly, daylight.) The annoying score found in the American print is thankfully muted in the German version, at times not even present, at other times peculiarly on target, suggesting a reappraisal is necessary. Some additional dialogue occurs: the masked Kantaka makes what appears a cruel quip to the morgue attendant who has just been savagely killed by a soda can (yes, a soda can!), the African driver sings a hoarse, and very funny, take of "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" as he drives Elvira from the train station. At one point the German language print switches to the Spanish language with German subtitles, then back again!
Unfortunately, the bad news is that this DVD, like Laser Paradise's other Naschy release (HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB) offers the non-nude version of REBELION. Brief shots of Aurora de Alba and Mirta Miller in their birthday suits are now made chaste by clothing. Yet a glorious surprise is in store, for the DVD presents two scenes NOT FOUND in the All Seasons' tape, previously thought complete. Each scene clocks in at no more than a minute, but each is undeniably important. In fact, these two scenes represent some of director Klimovsky's best moments.
Both sequences involve Naschy in the role of the hideously scarred evil brother, Kantaka. Following a gentle love-making sequence between the Kantaka's good brother, Krisna, and Kala (played by Marta Miller, who has never looked so shockingly beautiful), this sequence moves to Elvira's bedroom and slowly pans past the sleeping Elvira to the first view we have of Kantaka's horrid face, truly a chilling moment in the film. Kantaka glares at the peaceful Elvira, then picks up the nightgown lying on her bed, and smells it. Klimovsky direction here is matchless, and since this is the first view we have of Kantaka's face, previously hidden by masks, it arrives with much impact. The other sequence follows the attack on Elvira by the African servant. Again, Klimovsky sets this one up superbly, his camera gliding after Kala, as she advances into the building where the attacked occurred. As she languidly searches the threatening room inside, Kantaka joltingly appears before her, sans mask again. This sequence, aside from exhibiting Klimovsky's skill, establishes that Kala is conspirator in Kantaka's plot, for he gives her some orders instead of killing her. Inexplicably both of these scenes are not in the All Seasons video and, one would guess, the American release of the film.
Primarily, LA REBELION DE LAS MUERTAS promotes the genius of Naschy as horror actor. Kantaka's scarred face is revealed in all its burned glory on this illuminating DVD, with the evil soul pulsing out through savage expressions and bulging eyes blazing with a hypnotic interplay of madness and anger. Clearly, what we have here is one of Naschy's best performances (as Kantaka) in a film that for the most part remains lodged in the standard chills of a pulp horror/mystery, reminiscent at times of a German "krimis" film.
-- Mirek

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