Sunday, September 4, 2011

Foreign Fears: Horror Rises from the Tomb (El espanto surge de la tumba) (1972)

review by Nickolas Cook

Director: Carlos Aured
Cast: Paul Naschy, Emma Cohen and Víctor Alcázar

In Medieval France a badly dubbed warlock is be-headed after watching his witchy wife tortured and executed. Fast forward a few hundred years or so and a quartet of post modern asshole cosmopolitan cityfolk decide it would be a heck of a lark to go check out one of their number's ancient inherited estate property, where supposedly these two evil satanists had been buried long ago.

So off they hop into their little Euro-car, only to meet up with a group of evil locals in the woods, who try to kill them and steal their vehicle. They're saved just in the nick of time by a posse out to find the evil mudering locals, who then to the dismay of the cityfolk take justice in their own hands and shoot and hang the murdering locals.

And that sets in motion the doom-laden mood for the rest of the picture, as the cityfolk find the old estate, order some greedy idiot locals to help uncover these buried heads. Once they find the buried chests filled with satanic heads, the owner of the estate orders the remains to put away until morning.

Well, the dummy locals have decided that the stories of satanists heads is a bad cover for treasure, so that night, while the cityfolk sleep, they break into the casks to find the still living heads of the evil warlock, who puts them under his spell (with some really creepy music and cinematogrpahy, by the way, some of the best for this sort of Euro-trash flick) and Naschy's warlock has them sacrifice some local virgins to the corpse of his dead witch wife, bringing her back to life.

From there, all Hell breaks loose in the little village.

Soon, the cityfolk find themselves stranded, with no one seeming all that interested in helping them escape. And before you know it, we've got zombies everywhere, flesheating, and lots of evil cackling, with red and green mood lighting. There's also lots of skin and softcore sex to see, along with some fairly well done gore effects, until the eventual demise of the warlock and his mate by religious iconography and sunlight.

This all sounds hocky, right? Like a typical Naschy horror flick?

Well, yes and no.

First of all, in my book, none of that is all that bad a thing to me. I love Naschy, even at his worst.

So I consider "Horror Rises From the Tomb" THE BEST of his horror movies outside his Count Waldemar Daninsky the Wolfman movies. I also consider this a must-own for anyone who is a serious Horrorhead and wants to have a killer collection.

I also suggest you ignore the typical bad dubbing, the so-so special effects, the sometimes iffy narrative logic, and get yourself one of the classic Euro-trash exploitation movies of the 70s, a movie which I'd gladly and proudly stack up against the best of the best of that much missed cinematic era.

So go forth, Horrorhead, and be frightened by Naschy's eyebrows and evil cackles.

(NOTE: To music lovers, especially those who keep up with the industrial music group FRONT 242, you will definitely recognize that trademark cackle.)

--Nickolas Cook