• Paul Naschy Collection, The



    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: June 20th, 2017.
    Director: Carlos Aured/León Klimovsky/Carlos Aured/Paul Naschy/Paul Naschy
    Cast: Paul Naschy, Emma Cohen, Víctor Alcázar, Romy, Mirta Miller, Diana Lorys, Eduardo Calvo, Julia Saly, Silvia Aguilar, Eiko Nagashima, Lautaro Murúa
    Year: 1972/1972/1973/1980/1980
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movies:

    Shout! Factory presents five films (presented uncut) featuring Spanish horror stalwart Paul Naschy (born Jacinto Molina Alvarez) aptly titled The Paul Naschy Collection. Here’s a look at the contents of the five disc collection…

    HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB:

    The first of his collaborations with director Carlos Aured, Horror Rises From The Tomb should please Naschy fans to no end as it finds the actor, who also penned the film under his real name, Jacinto Molina, playing both the protagonist and the antagonist in this bizarre epic from 1972.

    Alaric De Marnac (Naschy) is a medieval French warlock who, along with his seductive lady friend named Mabille DeLancre (Helga Line of The Dracula Saga), is put to death at the hands of the local authorities for devil worship. Before they’re dead though, Mabille promises that they will get their revenge – Mabille is hanged and Alaric decapitated.

    Cut to the present day (well, the seventies at least) where we find Hugo (Naschy again) and his friend Maurice (Victor Winner) becoming more aware of some strange activity in their lives. It seems that Hugo is a descendant of De Marnac while Maurice is a descendant of the man who killed him. They bring in a medium and hold a séance to try and find out more information, but when it all goes wrong, they decide to grab their girlfriends and head off to Hugo’s family chateau. The pair hopes to prove once and for all that Alaric’s body is in fact dead and buried.

    They run into some problems on their journey to the remote area in which the chateau was built though, and after they crash their Mercedes Benz, are taken advantage of by some local townspeople. These rapscallions sell them a beat up clunker of a ride to get them to their destination for three thousand Francs after vanquishing some thieves who had attempted to rob our heroes.

    Eventually though, Hugo, Maurice, and their two companions make it to the chateau. They get some help together and dig up a chest containing Alaric’s severed head and some jewels but by doing this they unwittingly bring Alaric and Mabille back from the dead. The pair of miscreants quickly reverts back to their old evil ways, killing many of the locals and eventually going after Hugo and Maurice as well, even going so far as to bring in some zombies to help them in their Satanic quest.

    Naschy is typically good in his dual role, lending an air of dignity to his protagonist and a serious amount of menace to his evil Alaric antagonist. All cloaked in black and sporting some truly devilish facial hair, Alaric slashes his way through the cast with all the seductive flair fans associate with Naschy. Line, as his compatriot, is likewise great, bringing no small amount of sex appeal to her role. One need only watch the scene where the two of them seduce Christine towards the end of the film for a shining example of this. Alaric and Mabille have her under their complete control and while a good part of the action is left to your imagination (courtesy of Naschy’s cloak), you’re given enough to know what’s going to happen to her.

    The rest of the cast is decent as well, everyone looking sufficiently amused and/or horrified in all the appropriate places. The film delivers ample amounts of gore and nudity in its uncut version, which keeps the thrills coming at a good pace. Aided markedly by a truly unique (and at times, unintentionally funny) musical score consisting mainly of repetitive organ tones, Aured’s direction is slick and competent. The film is framed very nicely with much attention paid to capturing the moody atmosphere of the gothic sets (castles, graveyards, and the like). Color composition is striking with plenty of greens and reds used to keep your eyes busy taking it all in and the entire package almost feels like an issue of an old Warren magazine like Creepy or Eerie.

    VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES:

    Paul Naschy is given the chance to play a dual role in Leon Klimovsky’s bizarre 1972 film, Vengeance Of The Zombies. A strange and at times almost surreal take on the living dead, it’s an interesting film even if it isn’t the best movie that Naschy would star in.

    A mysterious killer is running around England killing off pretty ladies. Oddly enough, every woman who this maniac kills is soon brought back to life by an East Indian named Kantaka (Naschy) to join his army of zombies. Meanwhile, Kantaka’s brother, Krishna (Naschy again), is running around trying to help people feel enlightened. Kantaka, on the other hand, sets his sights on a foxy redhead named Elvire (Romy) whose father has just been murdered, hoping to add her to his growing legion of hot zombie ladies.

    Vengeance Of The Zombies is pretty trippy stuff, even by seventies Euro-cult standards. Klimovsky keeps the film moving at a very solid pace and the story, is a little clunky, is at least an entertaining yarn. The makeup holds up well, particularly during the scene where Satan himself (Naschy again!) shows up on screen or when Kantaka’s doing his evil deeds. Naschy does a great job playing both brothers and it’s a kick seeing him decked out like Ol’ Scratch as well. He brings a nice manic enthusiasm to the character of Kantaka and balances that out nicely with the more mellow and mystical Krishna. Romy brings a nice smoldering bit of female sex appeal to the screen as do many of the female supporting players (some of whom will look familiar to those who have seen more some of Naschy’s other films made around the same time frame as this one).

    As well cast and as bizarre as the film is, the real star quality of the picture is the visuals. The cinematography makes great use of the frame and the location shooting and set design really adds an otherworldly atmosphere to an already very strange story. Lots of odd colors give the movie a very alien look in spots and the whacked out jazz soundtrack just serves as the icing on this freaky-deeky cake.

    While this isn’t Naschy’s best, it’s certainly one of his strangest as it mixes giallo-esque set pieces and costumes that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bava movie with Caribbean voodoo sequences set in some obviously European locations. Throw in some nudity, some strong gore and a genuinely sinister vibe and it’s easy to see how the movie quickly adds up to a very worthwhile picture for fans of cult cinema. At times the low budget trappings are a bit obvious but seasoned fans will have no problem looking past that to be able to enjoy the visuals, the performances, and the weird world that these characters come to inhabit.

    BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL:

    Up next, a giallo inspired film again directed by Aured and released in the United States under the far more memorable name of House Of Psychotic Women! 1973’s Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll opens with a melancholy scene in which an ex-convict names Gilles (Naschy) walks a deserted French country road, hoping to hitch a ride with any passerby kind enough to stop for him. Soon enough, he gets a ride from Claude (Diana Lorys), a beautiful woman whose injured hand is now covered with a prosthetic, something that’s hard to miss when the camera is sure to focus on this. It turns out that Clauda lives in a remote mansion out in the middle of nowhere and that she could use a new handyman. Before you know it, Gilles’ has a new job and a place to stay. Claude doesn’t live alone, however, she shares the house with her two sisters: wheelchair bound Yvette (Maria Perschy) and the perpetually horny Nicole (Eva León).

    As time passes it soon becomes clear that Claude will form different relations with each of the three sisters, but that Claude is the one that he truly cares for, even if he’s not above a romp or two with her sisters. At the same time, he’s plagued by strange, surreal dreams that would seem to indicate his stint in prison was a result of his murdering a former flame. While this is going on, a murderer stalks the area – his M.O.? He’s got a thing for blue eyed blondes and after murdering them relieves them of their eyeballs! Inspector Pierre (Antonio Pica) has to figure that an ex-con like Gilles is the killer, but there’s much more to this than meets the eye (ha!).

    A genuinely solid and fairly lurid thriller, Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll is a really well made film. While it doesn’t skimp on the exploitative content giallo fans know and love, it’s also quite stylish and, more importantly than any of that, it tells a good story. Naschy is in fine form as the male lead, playing his part with enough of an air of mystery to keep us guessing while the three female leads – Lorys, Perschy and León – each do enough to make sure that their respective characters are distinct and interesting.

    Aured paces the pictures nicely, building suspense effectively through a few well timed reveals and keeping us guessing by introducing a few other potential suspects later in the picture while still maintaining the focus of the picture on Gilles’ plight. The locations are great, the old house and its surrounding buildings are the perfect backdrop for a murder mystery, while the quirky jazz score does a fine job of accentuating the action, drama and intrigue inherent in the film.


    HUMAN BEASTS:

    Human Beasts was once again written and directed by Naschy, who this time stars as a man named Bruno Rivera, a mercenary by trade. When the movie begins he and his foxy Japanese girlfriend Meiko (Eiko Nagashima) plan to steal a stash of diamonds with some help from her brother Taro (Kogi Maritugu). To make this happen Bruno manages to kill off the drivers but before the pair make off with the gems, he turns on Meiko, kills Taro and takes off with the goods himself.

    Of course, Mako, who is well connected to the criminal underworld herself, doesn’t take kindly to this and swears revenge. Bruno didn’t make it out completely unscathed, however, in fact he’s badly injured. Lucky for him then that a kind doctor named Don Simón (Lautaro Murúa) takes him in and, with the help of his two sexpot daughters – Mónica (Silvia Aguilar) and Alicia (Azucena Hernández) – nurses him back to health. While Bruno might seem to be recovering physically well enough, it seems his mental state might not be following suit, what with those bizarre nightmares about pigs being slaughtered and the fact that he’s started seeing ghosts and all. And then there’s the matter of Meiko yet to be resolved.

    This bizarre Spanish-Japanese co-production mixes crime movie stylings with horror movie conventions resulting in one of Nashy’s most unorthodox pictures. Even if you were to remove the genre hopping from the equation there would still be enough weird visuals, unexpected plot twists and strange characters to keep things interesting while the story heads into some decidedly dark territory – there aren’t a lot of likeable characters in this one!

    Still, the movie is plenty entertaining and well made in its own offbeat way. Naschy is once again a charismatic lead (even if he’s clearly wearing a toupee in the movie!), bringing his inimitable screen presence to the picture in a big way. As is typical of his films, the ladies, of course, can’t help but fall for him but the Silvia Aguilar/Azucena Hernández teaming at least manage to make their characters interesting in their own right. Eiko Nagashima as Meiko is also very cool, a tough woman that you don’t want to mess with!

    There’s a bit of padding here and there but overall this is well paced and strange enough to work. The murder set pieces are pretty grisly and a few moments that border on surreal help to make this one stand out from the pack quite a bit.


    NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF:

    Released in the United States as The Craving, Paul Naschy’s 1980 return to his tormented werewolf, Waldemar Daninsky, remains a high point in the series that the man made famous. Written, directed by and starring Naschy, it’s a great mix of gothic horror, werewolf mayhem and moody, brooding atmosphere.

    The film begins in days of yore when Daninsky, along with his mistress, the sinister Countess Bathory (Julia Saly), is executed – buried with a dagger in his heart. Cut to modern times, we see a pair of grave robbers unearth Daninsky’s body and take the silver dagger out of his chest. Of course, with the dagger removed, Daninsky lives again and he wastes no time wolfing out and running rampant across town.

    While all of this is going on, three young students from the local university - Erika (Silvia Aguilar), Karen (Azucena Hernandez) and Barbara (Pilar Alcon) – make a pilgrimage to the castle that Bathory once called home. Along the way they’re assaulted by a gang of local thugs, only to be rescued by Daninsky. What Daninsky doesn’t realize is that there is more to these ladies than meets the eye – one may be able to save his soul from the curse of the werewolf, while another is a witch bent on bringing Countess Bathory back to life.

    Naschy’s not reinventing the wheel with this film, instead he plays things fairly safe by keeping the film firmly rooted within the expected confines of the genre. That being said, he does a fantastic job of keeping the pace moving along nicely and the film is absolutely dripping with rich gothic atmosphere. If the story is a little on the predictable side, it’s easily forgiven as he really does throw himself into the role and he delivers a memorably tortured performance. The film, thanks to some great locations, sets and cinematography, really feels more like something that Hammer Studios would have pumped out during their heyday rather than something made in the eighties, but that’s half of the film’s charm. The very fact that it’s essentially a product of a by-gone era makes it somewhat endearing to those who appreciate gothic horror, right down to the old school werewolf transformation scenes and the old, run down castles.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The films in the set are presented uncut on their own individual 50GB Blu-ray discs in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Shout! Factory, like Mondo Macabro before them, have been limited with that they could use for the transfers on this set as reportedly the rights owner (Victory Films) would not allow new scans to be done. At any rate, the films are framed as follows:

    Horror Rises From The Tomb: 1.85.1 widescreen – this one looks decent. The elements used for the transfer were clearly in great shape as there’s virtually no noticeable print damage here at all. There is, however, some DNR applied here, resulting in the smoothing out of some fine detail and some mildly waxy looking skin tones. It’s not a complete abomination by any stretch but the noticeable lack of film grain is a pretty indicator of what was done here. Still, this is very watchable and a decent upgrade over the past DVD edition of the movie.

    Vengeance Of The Zombies: 1.33.1 fullframe – While the mention of fullframe might put some off, this is clearly an open matte presentation and not a pan and scan or crop job. Compositions look a bit roomy at times, you’ll see in some of the screen caps that there’s a bit more open space at the top and bottom of the frame than maybe there should be, but for this viewer at least it was never a big deal. As to the quality of the image, it’s a bit nicer looking than the first film. The image isn’t as smoothed over and while things do look a little bit soft here and there, the picture has more texture and slightly better fine detail as well. Again, the source used for the transfer was in immaculate shape, there’s no print damage here, while black levels and color reproduction is pretty solid.

    Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll: 1.33.1 fullframe – Again, this is clearly an open matte presentation so while matting the image might have made things more cinematic, we’re not actually missing any picture information on the image. The quality of the picture is pretty good, some light DNR has been applied and things look a little smooth again, but overall the transfer boasts nice color reproduction and good black levels. Again, the elements used were clearly once again in excellent condition as there’s no print damage, dirt or debris to complain about here.

    Human Beasts: 1.78.1 widescreen – This is by far the weakest looking of the five movies in the set, but part of this could stem back to the photography. The colors here look consistently flat with maybe a slight green hue over things where maybe they shouldn’t be. Again, the elements are clean and there’s very little print damage but the picture is pretty soft. Sometimes the softness is intentional but there are definitely shots here that probably should have been more crisp and detailed than they are. It’s all watchable enough but you can’t help but feel this one should have looked better than it does.

    Night Of The Werewolf: 1.78.1 widescreen – The last film in the set looks fairly decent. Again, light DNR is in play, so no one really has any pores on their skin, but thankfully it doesn’t suck all the detail out of the picture. The image is clean, no print damage to note at all, and colors look quite good. Some mild compression artifacts pop up here and there but this is a perfectly watchable if clearly dated HD transfer that offers a noticeable upgrade over the previous DVD edition that came out years back.

    Audio options are offered up in English and Spanish for each film in DTS-HD Mono format, with optional English subtitles provided translating the Spanish audio tracks. Note that, yes, the subtitles on the films do seem to translate the Spanish tracks rather than the English tracks – at least, they’re not literal translations of what’s spoken on the English tracks (I don’t speak Spanish so it’s tough to say if they do literally translate the Spanish dialogue). At any rate, the quality of the audio here is just fine. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note, they’re consistently clean, clear and nicely balanced and there are no noticeable issues with any hiss or distortion to complain about.

    Extras are specific to each movie, starting with Horror Rises From The Tomb which features a new audio commentary from Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn of the podcast The NaschyCast. It’s fairly scene specific, taking us through the film and pointing out interesting bits and pieces in relation to the film’s history. They make some interesting observations about why that irritating wagon wheel sound is present in the opening scene, they talk about how Naschy came to work with Aured on the picture, their first collaboration, how Naschy submitted a hand-written script with notations and drawings all over it and how Naschy wrote the script in such a rush that once it was done he didn’t really remember what was in it. They also talk about the locations that were used in the picture, how Naschy came to play three roles in the film, Naschy’s insane filmic output during this period in his career, Vic Winner’s contributions to the film, what works about the story and what doesn’t work so well about the story, ways in which the filmmakers compensated for a low budget, the way that the soundtrack is meant to unnerve viewers, some of the films that the lesser known cast members appeared in outside of this picture, some of the imagery used in the film and lots more.

    Aside from the commentary this disc also contains English and Spanish language trailers, a selection of alternate clothed sequences, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    The Vengeance Of The Zombies disc has English and Spanish language theatrical trailers, a selection of alternate clothed sequences, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll also features an exclusive commentary from Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn. They start off by discussing the film’s release history and its alternate titles, the music used in the film, the collaboration between Naschy and Aured, Diana Lorys’ background in dance, some of the unusual framing employed in the picture, the giallo influence on the film and the mistrust that exists between the female characters in the movie as they compete for the attention of Naschy’s male lead. They also cover the use of ‘frere Jacques’ and how well it is used in a certain scene, the details of the gruesome pig slaughter sequence, the different character actors that populate the film, Basil Gogos’ U.S. one sheet art for the picture, the use of deep blacks in certain shots and the contrast that comes out of them thanks to the detailed lighting, how the house itself serves as a character in the film and how this might be the only film where someone is murdered with a wheelchair!

    Rounding out the extras for this third film are English and Spanish language theatrical trailers, a Spanish credit sequence, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    As for Human Beasts, we get a Spanish theatrical trailer, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    Night Of The Werewolf once again features commentary from Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn, which they note is one of Naschy’s best films and the ‘striking beauty’ of the picture. From here they give some background on the Waldemar Daninsky character, the different cast and crew members that appear in the picture (with plenty of information on their backgrounds and other credits), Naschy’s tendency to reuse actors over the course of his career, oddities in the English language credits sequence, some of the locations that are used in the picture, how this film ties into a few of Naschy’s other werewolf pictures and how this is basically a loose remake of Werewolf Shadow. They also talk about how Naschy’s films often introduce the werewolf character as saving a woman from something horrible, the influence of classic Italian horror films on this picture, the dry and arid look of the film, the specific look of the werewolf in the movie, some of the problems with the film’s timeline, how the elements of vampirism creep into the film, the age difference between Naschy and the female lead, differences between the English dub and the Spanish language track. The commentary stops with about ten minutes left in the movie but otherwise, like the other two tracks, it’s packed with interesting insight, information and interpretation and delivered occasionally with some welcome humor (without ever resorting to ‘riffing’ on the movie).

    Additionally this disc includes some interesting deleted scenes, English and Spanish language theatrical trailers, a Spanish credit sequence, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. Note that there are a few extras from the old BCI Eclipse DVD releases that were not carried over to this Blu-ray release (including a commentary with Naschy and Aured on Horror Rises From The Tomb and another for Blue Eyes Of The Broken Doll,a short called The Vampyre from the Human Beasts disc that starred Naschy as well as intros from Naschy for each picture).

    All five films fit inside a Blu-ray sized flipper style case with each disc on its own spindle. This in turn fits nicely inside a cardboard slipcover that also holds an insert booklet containing an essay on each film written by Mirek Lipinski of The Mark Of Naschy. Lots of good info in here, Lipinski definitely knows his stuff when it comes to Naschy. Here he gives us a quick history of each film and points out some interesting trivia and makes some welcome observations about each film. Definitely take the time to read this, it’ll further your appreciation of Naschy and his work.

    The Final Word:

    The transfers could have been better but Shout! Factory did the best they could with what they had to work with and even if these are less than perfect, the presentations due trump the DVD editions. The new commentary tracks from the Naschy Cast crew are really well done and quite interesting and as to the five movies contained herein themselves? Each one is really well made and very entertaining – lots of fun to be had with this set, this works as a great representation of Naschy’s talents as well as his versatility.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




































































































    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      Nice review, Ian. I'm looking forward to getting this, though I own the BCI discs already.
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      I own BCI's Night of the Werewolf on dvd and Vengeance of the zombies on Blu-ray (German or Italian release, cant remember now). The latter only has the English dub. I was holding out to see if a Uk company would release these as its a pricey set, but the pull of Naschy wins. Should have this in a couple of weeks.
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Great review. I have this pre-ordered and can't wait to see these films on Blu.
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