Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973)

a.k.a. - El espanto surge de la tumba (ESP)

Paul Naschy and Helga Liné star in this unoriginal but enjoyable Spanish Horror. BCI US R0 DVD.

The Film

In France, in the late Middle Ages, Alaric de Marnac (Paul Naschy) and his mistress (Helga Liné) are sentenced to death for their horrible crimes. In contemporary Paris, distant ancestor Hugo de Marnac (Naschy) attends a seancé and asks the medium to summon up the spirit of Alaric to find out where he is buried. The spirit declares that he is buried on lands that de Marnac still owns in central France and so he and three friends make the journey down to Hugo's remote chateau inhabited by a caretaker and his two daughters. They dig in the grounds of the monastery and unearth a mysterious chest which contains the head of Alaric and unleashes hell on those in the house...

Written by Naschy, credited under his birth name of Jacinto Molina, Horror Rises from the Tomb is clearly inspired by the likes of Black Sunday (1960) with its storyline of an executed villain returning to avenge himself; indeed the script borrows a number of ideas from Bava's seminal horror film including the pre-credits execution. Like most of Naschy's horror scripts, the film is set in the modern day with the characters travelling to a backwards, rural area with their car breaking down en-route to allow no escape. The storyline is quite traditional in its largely housebound setting and is not particularly original in any of its ideas but like many of Naschy's best films, it manages to effectively blend a mix of themes from witchcraft and satanist worship to zombies to provide a unique cocktail of horror. Exploitation elements are never far away and the film makes full use of the opportunities for blood and nudity although it never dwells particularly on either.

The script is quite simply plotted and never really delves into the powers of de Marnac nor those of the talisman that is discovered, the presence of which appears to be an incredible godsend against the evil and which is accompanied by a book which instructs the characters on how to the defeat the evil in intricate detail (a scene that could almost be from a spoof film). Similarly unintentionally comic is the frequency with with the female characters, particularly Elvira, are left on their own in the house, despite the frequency of the attacks on them. Pacing is a little slack, particularly towards the end and the passage of time is rather unclear in places but some effective tension and atmosphere is built up with some genuinely scary sequences and a few unexpected twists that keep things unpredictable leading to a wonderfully downbeat conclusion.

Behind the camera, Carlos Aured does a solid job with the rural location and house sets, although not quite matching the flair of his period horror El retorno de Walpurgis (1973). Worthy of a mention are the special effects which certainly rank among the best of the era, the zombie make-up in particular is easily a match for that of the Fulci horrors from nearly a decade later and the gory effects look vividly realistic. The music is a little odd, largely organ based it seems to be played on a seaside organ and is very repetitive and although it generally stays in the background it does lessen the tension in a few scenes.

Paul Naschy gets a dual-leading role and seems to be really enjoying himself as the demonic Alaric de Marnac while giving a fair performace as Hugo. The beautiful red-headed Spanish horror regular Helga Liné gives a particularly feisty role as his re-incarnated mistress while the ever welcome Emma Cohen gives a strong performance as the set-upon heroine, coming into her own towards the film's climax.

Horror Rises from the Tomb does not boast the most original or detailed storyline but its expertly shaken cocktail of influences is more than sufficient to keep the film moving, with several enjoyable set pieces and along with a strong Naschy performance and some highly effective make-up this is one well worth tracking down for Naschy and Euro-horror fans.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Paul Naschy - the Spanish horror star who also appeared in Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)
Helga Liné - Spanish actress who appeared in a number of horror films, including La saga de los Drácula
Directed by anyone interesting? Carlos Aured - a Spanish director, known today only for his four films made with Paul Naschy, including werewolf horror El retorno de Walpurgis (1973) and the the giallo film Los ojos azules de la muñeca rota.
Is it scary? There are some effectively tense and scary sequences.
Any gore or violence ? Several very gory deaths.
Any sex or nudity? A few brief female topless and nude scenes.
Who is it for? Recommended to Naschy and Euro-horror fans.

See Also:
Panic Beats (1983) Alaric de Marnac returns in this surprisingly original and enjoyable sequel written and directed by Naschy.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The print has good detail and colours with almost no damage.
Audio English and Spanish audio. Both sound fine and the dubbing is good.
Subtitles English - translate the Spanish audio.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Introduction by Paul Naschy - as included on all of the BCI Spanish Horror series, a brief introduction that plays automatically before the film in which Naschy introduces it. Spanish with English subs.
  • Audio commentary with Naschy and director Carlos Aured discussing the film in a good amount of detail (although there are lots of interesting topics they do not discuss). In Spanish with English subs.
  • Spanish opening credits - identical in style to the English credits used on the film print except in yellow. Quality same as the film.
  • Altenate and clothed scenes - a series of scenes from the film as filmed to exclude nudity for the Spanish prints, including some different takes of some scenes. Print quality mostly the same as the film print. (9 minutes)
  • American theatrical trailer - with voice over (annoucing the film as 'Fear Rises from the Tomb', although the onscreen title states 'Horror'. Contains extensive spoilers. Widescreen.
  • Photo gallery - an extensive (46 image) gallery of promotional material for the film under a variety of titles. Manually scrolling.
Availability Available on its own, on a two-disc set with Loreley's Grasp or as part of the five disc Paul Naschy Collection.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Other regions? Available in Spain as 'El espanto surge de la tumba' with Spanish audio only. Previously released in the US in low quality editions, often cut. Mondo Crash US release included the complete clothed print of the film (the clips of which are included on the BCI disc) as well as the uncut print although both are lower quality (image from the uncut print):

Cuts? The film is believed to be fully uncut and is the "international" version of the film. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 26th March 2010 - uploaded as part of the Naschy Blogathon.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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