When it comes to the zombie genre of horror films, the early 70’s was a time when directors and writers, alike, were starting to branch away from the classic type of zombies – the dead that were brought back to life through black magic and voodoo, and the genre started moving towards the flesh-eating ghouls of biological plagues that we are more familiar with today. A revolution that was kickstarted by Romero’s ‘Night of the Living Dead‘ in 1968.
Director León Klimovsky missed Romero’s memo….or chose to ignore it, as ‘La Rebelion de las Meurtas‘ or in English, ‘Vengeance of the Zombies‘ (1973), is firmly in the voodoo/black magic camp of resurrecting the dead.
This Spanish “horror” film stars Spanish-horror icon Paul Naschy as an Indian mystic seeking revenge for an injustice done to him.
So, What’s It About?
Vengeance of the Zombies should really be called Vengeance Done By Zombies, because that’s all they are doing – basically the bidding of someone else. These zombies are a bunch of young beautiful woman who are murdered and then brought back to life by an Indian mystic (Paul Naschy) so that they will murder more people for him. It’s basically his own private army of zombies, whose ranks swell murder by murder.
Only these “zombies” are just woman with horrible white face paint and all too perfect hair for decaying corpses, that walk around all too happily as they are instructed to set upon people and choke them to death.
The main story arc of the film follows Elvire Irving (Rommy), a follower of an Indian guru, Krishna (Paul Naschy), who happens to wake up one night to someone trying to kill her.
She manages to flee and after being traumatized from the event decides to take refuge out of the city at a mansion that Krishna is staying at on retreat. Only while she is there, she is plagued by strange dreams of satanic rituals, and images of the devil – the devil being portrayed by Paul Naschy who is hilariously sporting some horns on his forehead and what looks to be some glued-on extra hair.
Whilst all of this is happening at the mansion, back in London, Scotland Yard is investigating the murders of young woman along with some other odd deaths. They shockingly come to the conclusion that there is only one explanation for all of this: it must be zombies! Wait, what? You’re telling me that you have been examining this case for only a matter of days, days! And are immediately coming to the conclusion that the cause of all of these deaths is zombies, yes you heard them, zombies.
All right then, moving on I guess. The ending of this film will have you thinking wow, what an amazing reveal! What a stupendous plot twist! I must go out and recommend such a great piece of work to all my friends! (In case you haven’t guessed yet, I am being horribly sarcastic).
We also feel obliged to let readers of this know that every single description of this film does not properly exemplify the film. It’s not a film about a ‘mysterious man killing unsuspecting woman, only to have them brought back to life by an East Indian man to join his army of zombies’. No, I would say this film is as stated above, about a man who has women murdered, only so he can have them brought back to life so he can have vengeance on the people who caused him harm back in India.
How Was This Film Received?
Justly, this film was received poorly, because although Paul Naschy is known as the Spanish King of horror films, he definitely went wrong with this one. I mean you would expect a bit more from the creator of the character El Hombre Lobo also know as the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. In his defense he was not the director of the film (that would be Leon Klimovsky), but Naschy did write the entire script and star in the film…..so he needs to take some of the blame.
Credit where credit is due however, there are a few aspects of the film that stand out amongst the general mediocrity and accrued rubbish in the film – gore fans will be pleased to know that there are a few gruesome scenes, the worst of which was when a man jams a knife into his neck in attempt to decapitate himself. The very slow jerking motions made it all the more disturbing.
The use of religious symbolism and forbidden love are somewhat prominent in the film, but they do get muddled with all of the jumping around of the plot. The main problem with the plot was they tried to jam in so much, certain scenes were drawn out far too long, while other scenes that deserved more focus were instead hastily pushed through.
One more thing worth mentioning would have to be the askew music score to the entire movie. When watching a horror film, you would expect the music to be eerie, ominous, spooky, and unnerving to make you more jumpy and focused on the horror of the film. That is not the case with Vengeance of the Zombies. Instead you have jazzy seventies lounge music playing in the background. The music is so out of place that just when you think you are getting into the movie, just when you are thinking “okay maybe it isn’t as bad as I thought” BAM! A sax-solo plays while a character in a mask is chopping off a chicken’s head.
In conclusion, Naschy-fans and anyone expecting George Romero-inspired action and atmosphere should look elsewhere – but if you want to really laugh at an interesting and hilarious horror film about some dude trying to get his revenge, then definitely take a look at this euro-cult classic.
Watch ‘Vengeance of the Zombies’:
|Buy the film at Amazon.com|
|Buy the film at Amazon.co.uk|
Written by: Kelsey B