Included in the set:
Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973)
Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1974)
Human Beasts (1980)
Night of the Werewolf (1981)
I have been a longtime fan ofy’s work. One of Spain’s most prolific genre actors, he starred in over 100 films, almost half of which he wrote. Naschy also directed more than 20 movies. He played several monsters, but most often he played the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky.
Only one of the werewolf flicks made it into Shout Factory’s “The Paul Naschy Collection,” but they chose a solid title. 1981’s Night of the Werewolf was written and directed by and starred Naschy in the aforementioned role of Waldemar Daninsky. The film opens with a couple of graverobbers inadvertently awakening the werewolf. Meanwhile, a trio of attractive female college students with intentions to resurrect the evil Elizabeth Bathory end up as Daninsky’s houseguests. Love is in the air, but is alas squashed by dastardly shenanigans inevitably pitting the once enslaved Daninsky against the virgin-blood-drinking Bathory. The werewolf makeup is really excellent in this one. It features an amazing transfer unlike I have seen for a Nacshy werewolf film. Frankly, there are few good prints of Naschy films out there, and the werewolf flicks seem to be the crummiest of the lot. I had never seen a clean print of a Naschy werewolf film, and I wondered if I ever would.
Human Beasts is another 80s era film in the collection that was directed and written by and starred Naschy, who plays Bruno Rivera, a hitman who betrays his charge and is seriously wounded in the process. Fortunately for him he is rescued by a small town doctor with two beautiful daughters, who may have ulterior motives. Human Beasts actually had a respectable BCI DVD release. I did not notice a huge difference in picture quality. The BCI release has an absolutely charming introduction by Naschy; for that reason, I will always hold on to it.
Also in the BCI set, and included in this collection, is‘s 1974 film Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll. Naschy is ex-convict Gilles, who is hired by three sisters as a caretaker. His arrival coincides with the murders of some local woman, and he naturally becomes a suspect. Despite not much difference noted in picture quality between the BCI version and Scream’s Blu, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is an important addition to the set. A Spanish giallo with a triple-twist ending and fabulous support from the talented and lovely Maria Perschy, Diana Lorys and Eva León, it is a favorite of not only Naschy devotees but of genre film fans in general.
Rounding out the set are two films from León Klimovsky, a director Naschy worked with often. In Vengeance of the Zombies (1973), Naschy plays three characters: Krisna, Kantaka and Satan. For the majority of the film Nashcy is Krisna, a mystic with dedicated followers who relocates to a property in Llangwell known as “the devil’s house.” Among his worshipers is Elvire Irving, who seeks Krisna out for spiritual assistance. Krisna invites Elvire to stay; however, he does not seem himself, and Elvire’s ominous nightmares of the devil and the undead may prove to be more than just dreams. Once more, I have to note that the Blu-ray picture doesn’t differ much from BCI’s DVD presentation of this film. To sum up the BCI versions versus Scream Factory’s: there are definitely improvements in sound quality, and although there is not a significant difference in the image, Scream’s is superior, albeit slightly.
Last and certainly not least is Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973). Naschy plays three roles: Alaric de Marnac, Armand de Marnac and Hugo de Marnac. Warlock Alaric de Marnac and his lover are executed at the beginning of the film by the order of Alaric’s brother Armand. Before he dies, he curses his brother and his descendants, along with co-conspirator Andre Roland (and his descendants). Enter modern day Hugo and Maurice; with girlfriends in tow, they head to the de Marnac property, Villas de Sade. The curse is unleashed after they discover Alari’s head. This is one of Naschy’s better known titles, and yet I am not aware of there ever being a decent version of it. I suspect this film might be in the public domain, as it has been included in more than one horror collection I’ve had over the years. You know those multi movie collections put out by Mill Creek, Madacy and the like? 50 classic for $19.99 etc? I have two DVD copies of Horror Rises from the Tomb, and both are sketchy as hell. The picture and sound on the Scream Factory print is out of sight! It was worth buying the set just to have this!
A set like this was a long time coming. Long suffering Naschy fans like myself have been hungering for attractive prints of his films. As far as I am aware there have been only a handful of decent Naschy DVD/Blu-ray releases: Mondo Macabro’s Panic Beats, BCI’s Human Beast/Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll duo, BCI’s Vengeance of the Zombies, and Redemption’s Crimson. Keeping in mind these releases come from a library of over 100 titles, that is just a sad state of affairs. For the uninitiated, this is a great set; all of these films are quite accessible and good choices for a first foray into Nashcy’s work. All the films have options to watch in the original Spanish language with subtitles or dubbed, and include still galleries and a trailer. An excellent and informative 24-page booklet by Mirek Lipinski gives some history on each film. For fans, “The Paul Naschy Collection” shouldn’t disappoint; however, speaking for myself, I would have liked to see more previously unreleased titles. I am stoked to see Paul Naschy’s resume getting this kind of love, and I look forward to receiving Scream Factory’s “The Paul Naschy Collection II.”
More good news for Naschy fans; Mondo Macabro just released (March 13) Inquisición on Blu-ray.
Also read Goregirl’s Favorite Five Paul Naschy Films.
Comparative stills from Horror Rises from the Tomb (Grapevine release on top, Scream Factory on bottom. Click for larger version.)