Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Halloween Horrors Day 6 - The Hanging Woman

Nothing beats early 70s Eurotrash horror for the month of October, and the well timed Troma Retro release of Jose Luis Marino's La orgia de los muertos could not be more welcome. Before I even get to the movie I have to say that the DVD, with it's paltry asking price of $9.99 (retail!) is a real value. A second feature, Sweet Sound of Death is included as well as a batch of extras that will make fanatical fans drool. This includes commentary by Merino, interviews with Paul Naschy and Merino, trailer, a very nice still gallery and a Naschy 101 feature that is informative and rather funny at turns! I've paid 2.5 times this much for a bootleg of this film in years past... and it looks a bit better here. Grab it if you like a good Eurotrash film that features Paul Naschy as a gravedigger named Igor with a penchant for the dead.
I don't know if I'd call The Hanging Woman a masterpiece, but it is excellent tiptoe through the undead turnips fun and a nice example of Spanish horror from that golden time. After a young woman attempts a little crypt theft only to find herself on the business end of a growling shadow we meet Serge Chekov...the nephew of the corpse that was too be robbed. As usual for this kind of movie, he finds himself in possession of a large house and all the weird servants that come with it. And a hanging woman.
Everyone needs one of those.

But the fun doesn't stop! With every hanging woman there should be a brightly colored fluid containing beaker encrusted mad sorcerers lab as well. Why not? A scheming countess tries to seduce our man to keep her around by using some funky hoodoo world spinning sexification as well. Maria Pia Conte nude and spinning around on my big screen is as fine as a sight as I've seen.

As if that wasn't enough that same countess is keeping around Igor the GraveRobber! Igor is played by beloved EuroTrash icon Paul Naschy who cranks up the crazy in this non-starring role. And even though he did not write or direct, Naschy STILL gets to do a pseudo-necrophiliac bit of sex biz with Maria Pia Conte! A charmed life that Mr. Molina has lived. Of course, Igor just decides the real thing is better and we are treated to Naschy being very ghoulish-not to mention meeting a particularly splattery end. Alaric would be proud...

The entire film plays out more like a mystery film for a good amount of the run time as murders happen and we start to think that the undead may be afoot. Once we get to a top notch seance gone wild routine, that is genuinely spooky, things really get rocking. And yes...there are zombies. Great zombies.
I love these zombies! Sure they don't have gardening tools or battle sharks, but they are still nifty.

While this is usually referred to as a zombie film, I'd argue that Zombie and Burial Ground are really what that label should be, this struck me more as a Plague of the Zombies style flick. The biggest strength of the film is that Merino manages to really make the characters likable (or unlikable if you will) before he whips out the promised Orgy of the Undead. I was really in to the film, even after seeing it several times, when the beautiful Dyanik Zurakowska is hiding in a burning crypt of creepies! I wanted to see Igor get his rightful comeuppance-and he sure does. Naschy sells his zombie necrophile / graverobber full throttle and makes Igor a nice little postscript to Gotho, The Hunchback of the Morgue.

And as much of an ass as Serge can be in this movie, I liked him. Going from a devilish cad making Zurakowska strip down so he can insult her (she even falls in love with him after this??) to fist slinging EuroHero smashing down a butler that can't make way for him to get some nookie, the guy is just what I like in my small town terror thriller. I'd be hard pressed to call Stelvio Rosi a favorite, he comes off as a low rent Jack Taylor here, but he is very cool in The Hanging Woman. I really wish that Jack Taylor had done this movie though...

Also, I have to give a lot of the credit for the atmosphere of this film to the score and WHERWHAWHIRRRRAOOO sound created by Francesco de Masi! Is this music on CD? I need it! While the film looks very classical, the music captures that look while still bringing an interesting funky bass to the mix as well. He did quite a bit of adventure movie scoring (westerns and spies especially), and the music really pushes the pace of The Hanging Woman with a firm hand. Great!

A steal at the price and a really good Spanish horror film, your need for nasty gothic cinema is met this Halloween if you swing with The Hanging Woman!


Snipes said...

I've watched a couple Naschy films because Helga Line was in them, can't say I really enjoyed them that much they seem to drag a lot. But I can see why he has a cult following.

db said...

Nice! I just ordered this yesterday and I'm pretty stoked to hear it lives up to my expectations (which can best be summed up as "Not really genius but definitely a lot of fun").

David A. Zuzelo said...

The sheer amount of stuff on the disc makes it of interest, especially getting to hear Merino and Naschy talk about the movie. DB, your expectations are a perfect review of the film.