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Paul Naschy, the Spanish one man monster mash, is back with another collection from ghoul ol’ Scream Factory! There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get to it film by film style…
Hunchback of the Morgue – Gotho (Paul Naschy utilizing a name best suited to a Hot Topic mascot) is an assistant in the morgue of a small German town (as the Octoberfest music let’s us know in it’s oh so subtle way) who has fallen for a gravely ill young woman. One day ol’ Gotho is delayed in his regular scheduled visit to our comely terminal case by a group of asshole young doctors who torment our hero resulting in him not being there as she dies. He of course steals her body (as you do), and takes it to an old dungeon under the hospital (just go with it). Soon, Gotho seeks out his friend; a doctor trying to create life (there’s one in every group, right?) whom Big G asks to bring his love back to life. The doctor agrees, provided Gotho helps him in his illegal experiments.
Hunchback is a crazy, disturbingly gory, mad scientist film. It feels like an updated version of the old low budget mad doctor films of the 30’s and 40’s; standard dungeon labs, but drenched in blood and guts (those graphic dismemberment scenes!). The whole affair is highlighted by Naschy, who has a meaty roll here; carrying the film on his hunchback. Gotho is pitiable, as he is tormented by everybody in town, and devoted to his love…but at the same time he’s a crazed murderer.
There are some negatives here though, as the story gets a little convoluted, starting off as a character study of Gotho, then turning into a mad scientist film with Gotho doing the mad doctor’s bidding…then finely going monkey ass crazy when the Doc’s monster goes on a rampage at the film’s end. The only real downside to Hunchback is a scene involving rats being set on fire. That’s just not cool.
Next up we have:
A Dragonfly for Each Corpse – A serial killer is stalking Milan; hacking up drug users, prostitutes, and anybody else they consider scum and leaving a small glass dragonfly with each butchered body. Beefy Inspector Paolo (Naschy), he of the fake moustache and Captain Kirk fighting style, is given the case (with n assist by his hot wife played by Euro babe Erika Blanc). Long story short, the pair hang out with some of the city’s most important residents, and soon the killer begins offing their friends, who turn out to have their own dirty secrets.
Naschy was inspired by Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and decided to try his hand at writing a giallo (though the psycho in this is a vigilante instead of the usual sex maniac), and the killer here reflects that, as they are dressed like the typical giallo maniac with a black jacket, hood covering their face and gloves (though the bright red slacks are unique to this picture thank god). Despite being a little less polished then it’s Italian cousins there’s plenty of classic giallo trappings here to keep you entertained. Also of note is the performance by Naschy playing a rough around the edges Dirty Harry type, that actually doesn’t mind the killer offing low lifes and saving police resources.
The Devil’s Possessed – Gilles de Lancre (Naschy) returns home to France after kicking some English butt. Despite his accomplishments in battle, The King snubs his ass, so Gilles decides to pursue “scientific” pursuits instead. Gilles and his smoke-show wife Lady Georgelle (Norma Sebre) hire alchemist Simone de Braqueville to get access to the dark secrets of science… but sadly Lady Georgelle and the alchemist are playing him for a chump, and soon the pair have him terrorizing the peasants for their own evil ends.
Devil’s Possessed is a weird one; it’s part period drama, part swashbuckling sword swinging, and part Mark of The Devil style torture antics. While looking lavish and having tons of action, the film never really comes together, and the way the action is filmed is just a bit lackluster. Also, the title is a bit of misdirection; nobody get’s possessed, Gilles and the wife are just Satan worshipers. All in all, it’s a cool diversion from Naschy’s usual antics, but it’s the weakest entry in this set.
Exorcism – Leila and Richard party down with some dirty hippies on the beach, but it turns out these free love fooligins are holding a Black Mass. D’oh! On their away home Leila freaks out and drives their car down a hill, landing her in the hospital. Leila’s brother becomes worried about her partying lifestyle and weird behavior and contacts family friend Father Adrian (Naschy); a pipe smoking, butt kicking, book reading man of the cloth. Can Father Adrian save Leila’s soul? How much ass will he kick in the process?
Exorcism is Naschy’s answer to a little horror film that came out in 1973. While it doesn’t have the deeper themes of that film, it’s a good ride with plenty of 70’s Satanic action at the hands of possessed Leila and her crazy antics (and her killer makeup). And if you haven’t guessed I dug Naschy’s Father Adrian; one of his cooler non-monster roles.
This is one of the best of the set…hippies, possession, bad clothes, facial hair aplenty; everything I want in a 70’s horror flick.
Finally we have…
The Werewolf and the Yeti – When his colleague’s expedition in Tibet is lost, Prof. Lacombe discovers a Yeti might be responsible, so he puts together a team to prove the Yeti is real. Along for the trip are his hot daughter Sylvia and anthropologist Waldemar Daninsky (Naschy). When Waldemar gets separated from the group he ends up in a cave with two hot chicks. Unfortunately for him the two turn out to be werewolf women who put the bite on him. The rest of the expedition are having shitty luck as well, running afoul of local despot Sekkar Khan and the wicked Wandesa. Can the now werewolfed out Waldemar save his friends? And were the heck is that Yeti?
Werewolf and the Yeti is a more adventure orientated Waldemar Daninsky outing, foregoing the usual doomed romance angle. This time there’s a Tibetan expedition, bandits, werewolf women and the Yeti…a.k.a. the film’s big problem. The hairy-scary shows up at the film’s start, then takes a backseat to all the other antics before finally showing up for a last minute battle…and said throw down is kind of a let down. That aside, the film is tremendous fun and never dull.
While the flicks are fun, the extras present on this release are more than a match, and include: audio commentary by Rod Barnett And Troy Guinn of the podcast NaschyCast on Hunchback, theatrical trailers and still galleries on each film, audio commentary by author Troy Howarth on Exorcism and Dragonfly, and alternate “clothed” scenes and alternate credit scenes.
To put a beastly bow on it, Scream Factory has done it again! This is another priceless volume of Naschy films, and if you love Spanish horror you’re going to want this release!
Guest Review by – Shane Migliavacca