Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)

Spanish horror star Paul Naschy is best known for his many appearances as werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. Vengeance of the Zombies (La Rebelión de las muertas), directed by León Klimovsky from a script by Naschy himself, is a bit of a change of pace. This time he plays two roles, as an Indian guru and his crazed brother. Or possibly three roles, although I’m not certain the third file was actually a different character. The film is set in London, and I believe they did some actual location shooting there.

A woman becomes involved with guru named Krishna after the unexplained murder of her sister. Eventually she comes to realise that both Krishna and her sister were involved in a series of strange event that started back in 1957 in Benares in India. It involved several English families, a rape, a terrible revenge exacted for the rape, and an even more terrible plan of counter-revenge. It also involves voodoo, and zombies. What connection could an Indian guru possibly have with voodoo? Scotland Yard is as puzzled as the viewer.

Apart from the combination of eastern mysticism and voodoo, the other unusual feature of this movie is that although it was made in 1973 the zombies are your traditional horror movie zombies, having more in common with the zombies in 1930s American horror licks such as White Zombie than with what was then the new wave of Romero-style zombies.

The plot is a little over-complicated, which might be a problem if this movie took itself more seriously. As it is it’s more of a slightly trippy and slightly camp 70s horror romp, and so the convoluted plot just adds to the weirdness. There are some quite successful scenes, with Klimovsky using slow motion rather effectively to create a dream-like ambience. The outrageous 1970s soundtrack also helps. Naschy is reasonably good. In fact all the players are at least adequate. There’s moderate gory, and mild nudity. Klimivsky keeps things moving along at a good pace.

The movie manages to be campy without looking merely silly, Naschy has fun in bizarre makeup and costumes, and the zombies look acceptably undead and shambling. If it has a fault it’s possibly the fact that it doesn’t get trippy enough, but it’s still highly entertaining. Definitely worthwhile for 70s eurohorror fans.

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