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Digital Dismemberment: Horror Rises From The Tomb Blu-Ray Review (From The 5 Disc Paul Naschy Collection Released by Scream Factory)  

Director: Carlos Aured
Producer: Ricardo Muñoz Suay, José Antonio Pérez Giner and Modesto Pérez Redondo
Special FX: Antonio Molina
Cast: Paul Naschy, Emma Cohen, Víctor Barrera, Helga Liné, Cristina Suriani, Betsabé Ruiz, Luis Ciges, Julio Peña, María José Cantudo, Juan Cazalilla, Francisco Llinás, Ramón Centenero, Montserrat Julió, Elsa Zabala, Francisco Nieto and Esther Santana
Released By: Scream Factory
Release Date: June 20, 2017

The Premise

In Medieval France a warlock is beheaded and his wife tortured and executed. Hundreds of years later an isolated group of people discover his head buried on their property. Soon it comes back to life, possessing people and using them to commit sacrifices and to search for the rest of his body.

The Details

Directed by Carlos Aured and starring Paul Naschy (AKA Jacinto Molina), Horror Rises From the Tomb is an exploitation film fan’s wet dream. Vibrant colors ripple across the screen, the music beats along powerfully in full 70’s style, and the gore and blood practically ooze off of the screen and into your lap. While at times the plot seems to meander off line and things happen for no good reason, there is much to love about this film.

One thing that stands out are the exceptional locations in Naschy’s home country of Spain (one simply could not recreate the gothic look and feel of the house and grounds today). As I am fond of saying, the location can become a character all on its own if properly shot, and the cinematography of Manuel Merino fully captures this.

The other thing that stands out in HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB are the actresses. Keeping in mind that this is an exploitation film, the stunning beauty on display is breathtaking and due to when it was made, nudity is used to the fullest but not to a point of being uncomfortable. Nudity aside, the actresses were very capable and none ever came across as the sterotypical “bimbo” that is the norm in many of these films. Naschy also recieves high praise for playing 3 parts in the film as well!

On the FX side, there are several stunning pieces, including severed heads and zombies that rival anything seen in a Fulci or Romero film.  The blood is also amongst the best I have seen in an early 70’s film.

The Plot

*SPOILER ALERT*

Horror Rises From the Tomb opens up in medieval France as Alaric De Marnac (Naschy) is executed along with his mistress Mabille de Lancré (Liné). The execution is carried out on command of his own brother (also played by Naschy). Both Marnac and Lancré both curse the brother before Marnac is beheaded, and Lancré is hung by her feet from a tree before she is stripped, tortured and ultimately killed.

Flash forward to modern (1973) time. Hugo De Marnac (Naschy) and several  friends attend a seance to try and channel the spirit of his ancestor, leading to all of them traveling out to the family estate to try and find where the bodies are buried. After encountering a pair of would-be robbers that are dispatched by town locals, they arrive at the grounds and are met by the groundskeeper and his two daughters. One in particular, Elvira (played by Cohen), appears to have a history with Hugo, and you can sense a sexual tension between them.  The group decides to hire a group of locals to help them dig around the grounds to try and find the graves and a possible treasure.

The next day, Hugo’s friend Maurice (Barrera) has a vision of where a chest is buried. After digging it up but failing to be able to open it, they take it back to the house with the intention of opening it the next day. Two robbers, who had been part of the group that dug it up, return to steal it that night.

One of them, after seeing what was inside, becomes possessed by the powerful spirit of Alaric De Marnac and brutally murders his partner and the groundskeeper with a wicked looking scythe. He then carries the box to a tomb on the grounds and places it on an alter in between the resting places of Alaric De Marnac and Mabille de Lancré.

The next day, the group discovers the bodies of the other robber and the groundskeeper. They dump their bodies in the nearby bog after finding that trying to report the crimes is useless. The first thief returns later and enters the house, brutally murdering the other sister and cutting her heart out of her chest. Shortly thereafter, Maurice’s girlfriend is taken away by the robber, and Maurice himself comes under the control of Alaric De Marnac.

Alaric De Marnac is resurrected when his severed head is joined with his body. After kidnapping Hugo’s “girlfriend”, a necromantic ritual is performed, and Mabille de Lancré is brought back to life. They have Maurice kill the thief and allow him to return to the house to deal with Hugo and Elvira.

Alaric and Mabille begin appearing in the town and sexually ravaging townspeople before brutally killing them and turning them into an army of zombies. Maurice struggles for control of himself as Alaric De Marnac continues to exert influence over him, eventually getting him to murder Hugo. Heartbroken, he tries a last ditch effort to help Elvira dispatch Alaric and Mabille with the help of a mysterious amulet that was hidden at the bottom of a well.

Will Maurice and Elvira be able to keep Alaric and Mabille at bay and save their very souls, or will the evil duo complete their quest for vengeance and Satanic conquest?  You will have to watch to see!

*END SPOILER*

Special Features and Extras

Bonus Features

Audio Commentary by Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn from NaschyCast

Spanish Credit Sequence

Alternate Clothed Sequence: For certain audiences back in 1973, some of the scenes with nudity had to be filmed with clothing still on so it could be shown in theaters. This footage is simply included as outtakes to show you what these scenes look like.

Theatrical Trailer

Still Gallery

Discs: 1
Format: NTSC
Color: Color
Rating: NR
Aspect Ratio: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1)
Language: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Castilian and DTS-HD Master Audio Mono English Dub

The Verdict

Scream Factory once again does an amazing job bringing us this film and collection. The quality of the transfer is absolutely stunning for its age and shows almost no print damage or grain. For a Mono soundtrack (both the Spanish and English Dub), the sound is quite rich and grand, filling the room and creating a fitting atmosphere.

The Still Gallery is a fantastic addition, giving us some great looks behind the scenes, and the alternate clothed sequences is a fascinating look at how the film had to be changed to be seen in other countries. The audio commentary is informative and sheds light on Naschy and the cast. The packaging is bold and a creative piece of artwork, suitable for framing as far as I am concerned. The only lament would be to see a few featurettes on Horror Rises From the Tomb. But considering many of the cast have passed, it would be hard to get an accurate backdrop to what really went on.

The bottom line:Horror Rises From the Tomb is well worth owning and an important chapter in European Exploitation film making to be sure!

Movie Rating: 4 out of 5
DVD Rating: 10 out of 10

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