DirectorCarlos Aured, León Klimovsky, Paul Naschy
Release Date(s)1975-1985 (June 20, 2017)
Studio(s)International Amusements Corp./Independent-International Pictures/All Seasons Entertainment/Film Concept Group/Victory Films (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: See Below
- Video Grade: See Below
- Audio Grade: See Below
- Extras Grade: C+
- Overall Grade: B+
Somewhat of a cult figure amongst the horror community, with little to no fanfare on home video, Paul Naschy still represents a pocket of unearthed fandom that will probably be tapped once more of his films hit the Blu-ray format. If you’re unfamiliar with the Spanish actor, The Paul Naschy Collection from Scream Factory is a good primer as it represents a range of his movies, good and bad. They’re all presented uncut, with the option to watch each with their respective original Spanish soundtracks or with English overdubs. The latter are considered notoriously bad though, as unintentional laughs are usually all that come out of them. If you want to experience these movies in a purer and less cynical way, sticking with the Spanish audio is your best bet.
Things begin with Horror Rises from the Tomb (El Espanto Surge de la Tumba) from 1975, which tells the story of a warlock and a witch executed in the middle ages, who return from the dead in modern times to terrorize and kill a group of vacationers. The story is a bit on the clichéd side, but it’s executed quite well with effective atmosphere and a good deal of nudity. Worthy of note is the score, which reworks “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” – horror fans will recognize it immediately. There’s a side of cheese to the movie, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
Next is Vengeance of the Zombies (La Rebelión de las Muertas), also from 1975, about seemingly random murders in London committed by voodoo zombies led by a mysterious hooded figure. However, a Hare Krishna may know the answer to who it is and why they’re killing. It isn’t the weakest movie in this set, but nothing much happens in it. It also has a ridiculous soundtrack, so out of place that it becomes unintentionally hilarious. Using 1970s London swing for a Spanish horror film might not have been the best way to go. Still, the movie is worth a watch. Animal lovers, take note: There is real violence committed against a chicken, just so you’re aware.
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (Los Ojos Azules de la Muñeca Rota) from 1976 tells of a drifter (Naschy) who works for a household of withdrawn sisters, one of which is wheelchair bound. When he begins sleeping with them, murders start happening, but who is behind the carnage? The movie is a giallo, sort of, at least in the final half hour. Most everything up to that point is frivolous. Naschy’s character ultimately doesn’t make much of an impact on the story as a whole. However, the reveal, or rather the multiple reveals, make up for some of the movie’s messier and less interesting aspects. Like the last movie, there’s some animal violence. This time around, it’s a little more intense, so be aware of it if you’re squeamish about these sorts of things.
Human Beasts (El Carnaval de las Bestias) from 1980 is a veritable Mulligan Stew of a movie, with a jewel heist, flashbacks, a ghost, murder, mystery, explosions, sex, cannibalism, and everything else under the sun. Even with its twist ending, it still adds up to a lot of random nonsense. Certain moments are effective, including some of the kills. Otherwise, it’s a mess, never reaching its point smoothly. It’s easily the weakest of the five movies in this set.
Last is Night of the Werewolf (El Retorno del Hombre Lobo), which is also the ninth movie in the Hombre Lobo series. It tells the tale of Waldemar Daninsky, a werewolf who is executed in the middle ages, along with a vampire and her coven. Kept in a living stasis with a silver blade through his heart and an iron mask over his face, he is unearthed centuries later, and returns from his tomb to kill the also newly-risen vampire woman. Featuring a spooky atmosphere, some great set pieces, and strong visuals, it’s arguably the best film in this set, an old-fashioned Hammer-type monster movie with some real flair.
When it comes to the A/V quality of the movies in this release, none of them were given new transfers, so they’re the same ones used for their previous releases in the late 2000s. According to Shout! Factory, the licensor refused to allow the original elements to be scanned. While each transfer has its pros and cons, they’re all generally good and are a definite upgrade from DVD (outside of one). Horror Rises from the Tomb is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There’s definite softness, but good texturing and detail is retained, as well as a decent grain structure. Lush, beautiful colors with strong primaries are also on display with skin tones that are merely good. Deep black levels are also apparent, but with mild crush. And while brightness is generally pleasant, the contrast seems a little too high. It’s also a stable and clean presentation. Vengeance of the Zombies is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio (again, the only masters that were available). It’s solid without a prominent grain structure, but texturing and detail is high overall. It’s also quite clean, perhaps a little too clean. Strong colors are also exhibited, but with better skin tones. Blacks are deep with definite crush and while contrast is generally good, things appear too dark at times, particularly during nighttime scenes. There’s some mild instability in spots, which is likely inherent in the masters used, as well as some occasional speckling that’s extremely minor and hardly noticeable.
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is also presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It exhibits many of the same qualities as the transfers previously mentioned, which is slightly soft but with good texturing and detail, strong colors, excellent skin tones, deep blacks with mild crush, and satisfactory brightness and contrast levels. It’s also a clean and stable presentation with little to no film artifacts leftover. Human Beasts is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and is by far the least impressive transfer of the bunch. It’s uneven across the board in every category. Sometimes it looks decent, but most of the time, it’s unremarkable for a high definition transfer, looking almost like standard definition. It is very, very soft, lacking solid textures or obvious grain levels. Colors and black levels are merely ok, with uneven skin tones that are sometimes waxy in appearance. Brightness and contrast levels are decent and the overall image is stable. Some film artifacts remain, although they’re mainly relegated to speckling and a few lines here and there. Some shots also feature Spanish subtitles struck into them, usually during Japanese dialogue. And unless it was inherent in the source, the encode is quite clumpy. Night of the Werewolf is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Like the quality of the better transfers in this release, it features some softness, but with good texturing and detailing. The grain structure is also solid. Colors, especially primaries, are strong and skin tones are quite natural. Black levels are deep with mild crush, but brightness and contrast levels are satisfactory. There isn’t much in the way of film damage or artifacts leftover, but there is some noticeable instability throughout.
The audio for each movie is presented with both Castilian (Spanish) and English soundtracks in mono 2.0 DTS-HD. Horror Rises from the Tomb’s audio is understandably flat, but dialogue, sound effects, and score all have ample breathing room and there are no hiss or distortion-related issues. Vengeance of the Zombies’ funky music selection has some nice presence to it, and the audio is a little less flat, but still monaural in nature. Dialogue and sound effects have slightly more spacing and there aren’t any age-related issues either. Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is of the same caliber, while Human Beasts exhibits slightly more ambient activity. Night of the Werewolf has a slight edge over all of them due to being marginally stronger musically. Dialogue is also a little cleaner as well. For each of the film’s English overdubbed counterparts, the dubbing is as obvious as you would imagine, but the overall sound quality is much of the same otherwise. Optional subtitles are also included for each film in English SDH.
HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B+/B-
VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): C-/B+/B-
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B-/B+/B-
HUMAN BEASTS (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): D/D+/B-
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (FILM/VIDEO/AUDIO): B/B+/B
Extras are generally similar from disc to disc, with some exceptions. For Horror Rises from the Tomb, there’s an audio commentary with Naschycast podcast hosts Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn; alternate clothed sequences from the original Spanish theatrical showing; both the Spanish and English theatrical trailers; an alternate end sequence (silent); and an animated still gallery. For Vengeance of the Zombies, there’s a set of opening and closing Spanish credit sequences; alternate clothed sequences; both the Spanish and English theatrical trailers; and an animated still gallery. For Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, there’s another audio commentary with the Naschycast podcast hosts; a set of opening and closing Spanish credit sequences; both the Spanish and English theatrical trailers; and an animated still gallery. For Human Beasts, there’s the Spanish theatrical trailer and an animated still gallery. For Night of the Werewolf, there’s yet another audio commentary with the Naschycast podcast hosts; 2 deleted scenes; a set of opening and closing Spanish credit sequences; both the Spanish and English theatrical trailers; and an animated still gallery. Missing from the BCI special editions of these movies are introductions by Naschy himself, which unfortunately, couldn’t be carried over.
While this set is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes Paul Naschy’s filmography, it’s as good a place as any to start for a novice. His movies are worth rediscovery. The Paul Naschy Collection should satisfy a big portion of horror fans. It’s a welcome change of pace for Scream Factory too, and a trend I hope to see them continue.
- Tim Salmons