Vengeance of the Zombies

May 17, 2013 at 3:35 am (6 Heads, Vengeance of the Zombies) (, , , , , )

Vengeance of the Zombies – 1973 – Spain

Argentinean director Leon Klimovsky directed Paul Naschy eight times in the 70s, including the tour de force The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman (1971). That film and Vengeance of the Zombies both feature characters named Elvira, honoring Naschy’s wife of the same name. Naschy wrote Vengeance of the Zombies and plays three roles: the compassionate Indian mystic Krisna, the disfigured Voodoo sorcerer Kantaka, and Satan himself.

In contemporary England, a young socialite woman falls in love with a Hindu spiritualist while staying at his country manor. Meanwhile, a masked Voodoo cultist stalks about, committing ritual murders to raise an army of lady zombies. Apparently, he plans to perform a Satanic Black Mass and gain immortality. When the cultist kidnaps the socialite, the spiritualist rescues her from the sacrificial altar.

Naschy describes Vengeance of the Zombies as one of his “strangest and most fearsome” flicks. His autobiography, Memoirs of a Wolfman (1997), relates anecdotes concerning black magic practitioners who claim the film contains hidden messages. These allegations are unsurprising considering the flick’s lurid depictions of magic rituals. Wax figures are melted, chickens are beheaded, blood is consumed, and women are sacrificed. But ultimately, the haphazard combining of Voodoo and devil-worship is inaccurate and ludicrous.

Vengeance of the Zombies maintains an eerie ambiance despite its hokum. Scenes of the Voodoo cultist are especially menacing. In a black cloak and a variety of rubber masks, he executes grisly murders. One man is strangled by a wire garrote, another is hung upside-down on a meat hook, yet another has his jugular slashed by a jagged beer can, and best of all, a possessed man slits his own throat. There is also a gory and surprising scythe decapitation, and a posse of undead women who glide about in slow motion, swarming their fear-paralyzed victims.

Vengeance of the Zombies is cheap exploitation, but Nachy’s writing has a hypnotic quality that suggests hidden depth. It’s as if the film doesn’t depict our world, but a shadowy alternate dimension where sinister supernatural forces run rampant. Those with any inkling of what I’m trying to explain will dig Vengeance of the Zombies, or any of Naschy’s other scripts.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. I love Vengeance of the Zombie’s swinging music. It’s a shame that it nearly ruins the film’s brooding atmosphere.

 

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