Release Date(s)1983 (March 9, 2021)
Studio(s)Cinema International Corporation (Mondo Macabro)
- Film/Program Grade: C
- Video Grade: C-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B-
Panic Beats (Latidos de Panico) is a sequel to Paul Naschy’s Horror Rises from the Tomb, which featured the character of Alaric de Marnac, a warlock who is sentenced to death in his own time but returns many years later to take revenge on the living. The film’s story isn’t really about him, but his legend looms large throughout, only making an appearance at the beginning and the end. It’s an an odd film that makes you believe that it’s going in one direction, albeit derivatively (mentioning the title of the films that it’s derivative of would spoil it), but once that plot point occurs a little over halfway through, another story starts. After that, you don’t know where it’s going, but it wants to go in several directions, one of which curiously never pays off. Panic Beats was never released theatrically in the US, but has managed to survive decades later thanks to home video.
Paul (Naschy) is told by his doctor that his wife Genevieve (Julia Saly) has a severe heart condition and that she can no longer survive in a city-bound environment. He moves her to his childhood home in the country, where the live-in maids Mabile (Lola Gaos) and the beautiful Julie (Frances Ondiviela) are waiting for them. Genevieve explores the house and the grounds, learning that Paul is the descendant of an evil warlock who was executed long ago, and that his evil and murderous spirit still roams the grounds. It isn’t long before he shows up, threatening Genevieve in full medieval armor with a deadly ball and chain in hand.
Panic Beats was shot by director of photography Julio Burgos, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray presentation is presented in 1.85:1. It’s a decent transfer that’s stable with good contrast and saturation, but it has obvious flaws. It’s poorly encoded with occasionally frozen pixels and uneven grain, which ranges from non-existent to heavy. It even flickers repeatedly in one scene. Mild speckling and a couple of scratches are all that’s left of film damage, but they’re not really the problem as they’re natural to the element that was used.
Audio is presented in Spanish 2.0 Mono LPCM with optional English subtitles. It’s a solid enough presentation with ample support for dialogue, which consists entirely of dubbing. Sound effects and score are a little muddled, but the track is otherwise clean and healthy.
The following extras are included:
- Audio Commentary by Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn of NaschyCast
- Paul Naschy On… His Life in Cinema (Upscaled SD – 28:38)
- Paul Naschy Spanish Interview (Upscaled SD – 36:26)
- More from Mondo Macabro (Upscaled SD – 11:10)
In the audio commentary by Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn of the podcast NashyCast (frequent contributors to the extras of films by Paul Naschy released on Blu-ray), the two men avidly discuss the film in detail. It’s a solid commentary that offers of plenty of information about the film, as well as an analysis of it. In His Life in Cinema, Paul Naschy gives an interview about his earliest influences, his first film, Werewolf Shadow, directing his first film, Panic Beats, and the heritage of horror. There’s also footage of him receiving the Time Machine award at the Sitges International Film Festival in 2004, which was presented to him by John Landis. In his Spanish Interview, he talks about his life and career again, including a lengthy section on Panic Beats. Last is a trailer reel showcasing films released by Mondo Macabro, including Panic Beats (although a couple of these films have been released on Blu-ray by other labels at this point). Not carried over from their DVD release is the Blood and Sand featurette and a still gallery.
The disc sits inside a blue amaray case with an insert featuring artwork that appears to be sourced from the Atlanta AV Video German VHS release (which carries the title Heart Beat). A Limited Edition Blu-ray release of the film was also available in a red amaray case with a set of art cards and an insert booklet featuring the essay Even Monsters Need Love by Troy Howarth.
Panic Beats is still an essential purchase for fans of Paul Naschy, but the video presentation leaves a lot to be desired. The audio commentary and the rest of the extras help things go down easier, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the film get another release sometime down the road with an improved transfer.
- Tim Salmons