• Panic Beats (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: March 9th, 2021.
    Director: Paul Naschy
    Cast: Paul Naschy, Julia Saly, Lola Gaos, Silvia Miro, Frances Ondiviela
    Year: 1982
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    Panic Beats – Movie Review:

    Panic Beats, the 1982 effort written, directed (under his real name of Jacinto Molina) by and starring Spanish horror mainstay Paul Naschy is an interesting, atmospheric, and mean spirited little horror movie that fits in nicely with the rest of Naschy’s filmography.

    Paul Naschy plays, well, Paul… a distant relative of Alaric De Marnac (last seen raising Hell in Horror Rises From The Tomb), an evil knight in shining armour who has a tendency to rise from the grave every hundred years or so and kill of the Marnac women folk. This doesn’t bode too well for Paul’s wife, Genevieve (Julia Saly of Amando De Ossorio’s Night Of The Seagulls, the fourth Blind Dead film), who not only suffers from a heart condition but also has the unfortunate luck of receiving a late night visit from the rejuvenated Alaric – at least she thinks that’s what’s happening.

    Throw in a pair of mischievous maids – a young one named Julie (Paquita Ondiviela) who has aspirations for Paul, and an older one named Mabile (Lola Gaos of Jorge Grau’s Blood Castle) who helped raise him when he was younger – as well as a mistress named Mirielle (Silvia Miro) for Paul and you’ve got yourself a bit of a mess in the Marnac household. When Paul and his cohort devise a plan to take care of his wife so that Paul can inherit her fortune, his true colors appear and his past starts to come back to haunt him in the most sinister of ways.

    Panic Beats is a solid film full of truly unlikeable characters. Save only for Genevieve, everyone in the film is out for themselves and has some sort of ulterior motive be it sexual gratification or simply money. Paul’s poor wife, who he claims to be taking away to the old family home simply so that she can recover from her condition, is the only character in the film that generates any sympathy from the viewer – the rest of the cast are backstabbers. That being said, it’s the back stabbing that makes this one so much fun. With everyone out to get something from everyone else the film does manage to evoke a couple of genuine surprises before the end and it does manage to keep you guessing throughout.

    Also working in the film’s favor are the sets, and of course, the set pieces. The large stone fireplaces and antiquated weapons on display throughout the old Marnac household give the movie a great gothic European style that’s added to by the burial plots surrounding the accompanying lands. This makes for a great location for a horror movie and Naschy takes full advantage of the look of the location in which the film transpires. As far as the set pieces are concerned, the film doesn’t shy away from the violence or the bloodshed. Beginning with a scene in which a woman is flogged by a knight on horseback moving on to a dream scene in which the older maid is found sitting fireside with her throat slit only to rise from the dead and menace her niece, Panic Beats has more than its fair share of grue.

    Of course, what would a Nachy film be without the man himself? He does his usual great job in front of the camera, displaying plenty of anguish and confusion over not only what his character is doing but also what his character is capable of doing. He doesn’t don any werewolf prosthetics for this film, he plays it au natural like he did in Horror Rises From The Tomb and he’s in fine form throughout. Of course the ladies can’t resist him and as his wife starts to fall back in love with him, Julie’s feelings for him begin to grow and Paul being who he is, is certainly tempted by her younger good looks. His relationship with his mistress is destined for failure – she’s only after him for his wife’s money, and in turn, he has no problem slapping her around a bit from time to time and is only using her for sex.

    Overall, Panic Beats is plenty entertaining. Part soap opera, part semi-modern day gothic horror film, it moves along at a reasonably solid pace, contains a fun performance from the leading man, and makes the most out of its sets thanks to some wonderful cinematography and eerie lighting. There are a few moments here and there that remind you that you’re not watching a big budget release but Naschy makes the most of his film. From the obvious symbolism of the snakes that appear as a precursor to the true evil that lays within the homestead to the bloody effects like the gorged out eyeballs to the oddities like the ultra-shiny suit of armor that is supposed to be hundreds of years old, Panic Beats has got pretty much everything you’d expect from a decent Euro horror film, and that’s a good thing.

    Panic Beats – Blu-ray Review:

    Panic Beats arrives on region free Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro taken from a new restored 4k scan of the original 35mm negative. Framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and taking up 23.6GBs on a 50GB disc, the transfer generally looks fantastic. There are some mild compression artifacts spotted in scenes with heavy fog but otherwise, nothing to complain about here. Detail, depth and texture are all very strong and there’s virtually no noticeable print damage here at all. Colors look great, black levels are nice and deep and skin tones look lifelike and natural. Noise reduction and edge enhancement are never an issue here, the picture always looks nice and filmic. Mondo Macabro has done a great job here.

    The only audio option on the disc is a Spanish language option in 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Mono. Optional subtitles are offered up in English only. No problems to note here, the audio sounds clean and properly balanced. As this is a mono track, range is understandably a bit limited but there is some noticeable depth, mainly in terms of the score, that the lossless track offers during playback. No problems with any hiss or distortion to note, this sounds quite nice.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary from Troy Guinn and Rod Barnett, the two men behind The Naschycast, which is a Paul Naschy-centric podcast that’s been running for a few years now. This track covers the theme music used in the opening scene and then throughout the movie and how it stands out above the rest of the score, how the film connects to Horror Rises From The Tomb, how the movie being made in the age of the slasher film resulted in stronger gore and nudity, the alternate titles that the film has been released under (some more legit than others), how Naschy once again plays an outsider character and how the character plays with audience expectations as the story progresses, how the movie plays off of the horror inherent in being somewhere you're not really familiar with and the different cast and crew members that Naschy worked with no this particular film. It also goes over the influence of Hitchcock's Rebecca, the locations that were used for the production, the effects showcased in the picture, the requisite Paul Naschy love scene and all its many characteristics, where Naschy was at during this point in both his personal and professional lives when this movie was made and lots more. It’s a great track, lots of good information is contained inside and it’s delivered in very listenable, informal and conversational style.

    From there, we jump into a thirty-six-minute interview with Naschy where he speaks about growing up in Madrid, moving to Transylvania, his studies and then eventually how he got into filmmaking after answering a newspaper casting call. He discusses playing different characters early in his career and having to be made up to look different, making friends with different performers over the years and learning as he went. He also covers his weightlifting and athletic endeavors, before then getting into his influences and then covering how he decided to write a film about a werewolf and how his career took off from here, even if getting that first horror picture made was quite a challenge. From here, he basically walks us through a series of career highlights, coming up with the Paul Naschy alias, how he got into directing as well as acting, how his films can be viewed differently through modern eyes and some of the details of what all was involved with shooting Panic Beats in particular. From there he goes on to cover some of his other films as well, it's all quite interesting.

    There’s also a lengthy twenty-nine-minute on camera video interview with Naschy included here entitled Paul Naschy On… His Life In Cinema. Here he discusses not only his work on Panic Beats but his work in Spanish horror cinema as a whole, including details on his early influences, making his first film, working on The Werewolf's Shadow, directing his first picture. Naschy comes across as a gracious man who appreciates horror, and doesn’t come across as disdainful of the material at all. He’s got no shortage of things to say and is in very good spirits throughout this interview which runs almost a half an hour in length!

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is the ever-expanding Mondo Macabro preview reel, menus and chapter selection.

    Panic Beats - The Final Word:

    Panic Beats is a solid Naschy film with gore and atmosphere to spare. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray release presents the film in a gorgeous high definition presentation and with a nice selection of extra features as well. Highly recommended!

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

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. demofob's Avatar
      demofob -
      Pretty decent compression artifacts (seventh screenshot). I didn't expect from Mondo. O_O
    1. Raf A.'s Avatar
      Raf A. -
      That is not mild compression artifacts. That is major issue. Where is your QC Mondo Macabro?
    1. demofob's Avatar
      demofob -
      Remember the Blu Underground release Amsterdamned? There was also a similar compression, but they replaced the discs.
    1. demofob's Avatar
      demofob -
      Quote Originally Posted by Raf A. View Post
      That is not mild compression artifacts. That is major issue. Where is your QC Mondo Macabro?
      Here's what insider Mondo responded.
      I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the sharp-eyed can find some minor compression artifacts in PANIC BEATS. The person who did the authoring has garnered those kind of complaints before. But watching it in motion, as others here have noted, does not reveal anything truly problematic. Only the most picky will find fault. But that's still a problem for me. So I have requested we not use that authoring person again.