In his memoirs, Paul Naschy said about his 1973 movie, Vengeance of the Zombies:
When I wrote the screenplay, I must either have been under the effects of hashish or, like Bram Stoker, I’d had one hell of a nightmare. Maybe it wasn’t hashish but cheap wine.”
I wonder if it was anything like the nightmare that Elvire Irving (Romy) has in the film. It’s bizarre, creepy and made more surreal by a soundtrack that most Naschy fans seem to hate. It doesn't bother me. The dream sequence is what I remember most about Vengence of the Zombies, and the music is a big part of that.
Flora (Monsserrat Julio) and Augusto (Fernando Sanchez Polack) have desecrated graves many times, so when the favorite daughter of a rich family is murdered, they’re certain jewels will be buried with her, even if they must cut them off her body. This is the first time, though, that a body has risen to attack and kill them.
Yes, a mysterious cloaked person has lit a little wax figure on fire and commands Gloria Irving (Norma Kastel) to come back to life. This person will continue to do so with other bodies throughout the film, as well as sometimes order the victims to cut their own throats so he can collect their blood in a jar and pour it on the little wax figures before lighting them on fire.
When Elvire’s father becomes one of the victims, she decides to take a trip to the country to stay with her spiritual advisor, Krisna (Naschy.) It’s within his big, gothic home that she experiences her nightmare, and subsequently, real life nightmares. As blood flows more freely, we learn a secret from the past that has returned to haunt Krisna and his friends.
Superintendent Hawkins (Antonio Pica) from New Scotland Yard gets involved in the mystery, as does Dr. Lawrence Radcliffe (Victor Barrera), who’s at time conveniently doing research on fakirs at. Hawkins asks Radcliffe...
Could you explain voodoo to me in simple words?
Maybe he could, but he doesn’t. His speculation about the situation might end up being the truth, but I recommend you don't focus on the complexities of the plot, just on the gloriously wacky details of the story.
Elvire calls this mystery, “An incomprehensible, absurd and atrocious nightmare,” but I'd never say that about this movie. She’s comforted by Krisna’s kisses as they become – surprise! – romantically involved. This perturbs Kala (Mirta Miller) because she, of course, loves Krisna. What a tangled web we weave!
Vengeance of the Zombies is right up there with my favorite of Naschy’s films. It looks great and features some great makeup effects by Miguel Sese, who did Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf and will do The Mummy’s Revenge for Naschy. Drug-induced or not, like Horror Rises from the Tomb, this movie’s crazy components combine to create something original.
Hear more of my opinions about Vengeance of the Zombies, and Rich Chamberlain's, on this month's episode of The Classic Horrors Club Podcast. Then, follow that with the video companion on our YouTube channel. Come on, you know you want to be a completist...
Written by Paul Naschy
Directed by Paul Naschy
Starring Paul Naschy, Romy, Mirta Miller, Maria Kosty, Auror de Alba, Luis Ciges, Pierre Besari
RT 89 min.
Released June 27, 1973 (Spain), Dec. 31, 1973 (US)
Home Video Shout! (The Paul Naschy Collection, Blu-ray)
Rating 7 Waldemar Daninskys (out of 10)