Director: León Klimovsky
BCI Eclipse/Deimos

Paul Naschy, Spain's superstar of horror, starred as a number of maniacal monsters during his most prolific period (1968-1973). He'd appear as a mummy, Count Dracula, a deranged hunchback, and his most famous role of Waldemar Daninsky, the doomed werewolf. After directing several successful "El Hombre Lobo" romps for Naschy, León Klimovsky was back on hand for this undead entry, known in Spain as LA REBELION DE LAS MUERTAS. Naschy takes on two roles; an East Indian guru named Krishna and his scarred brother Kantaka, who uses some kind of voodoo to bring back the dead and haunt a redheaded British woman (Romy, who looks great in a pink nightgown) after her father gets the hatchet in the head.

Like Klimovsky's DR. JEKYLL AND THE WOLFMAN, some of this film was shot on location in London, the city where it takes place in. Anyone expecting George Romero-inspired antics should look elsewhere. Klimovsky's zombies are mainly female actresses in black cloaks and blue face make-up who stroll around and grin a lot (they look something like the vamps in Andy Milligan's ultra-cheap THE BODY BENEATH). One haunting scene in which they attack a morgue attendant is somewhat reminiscent of Klimovsky's own WEREWOLF'S SHADOW (as well as a scene in the first "Blind Dead" film), with the bizarre image of the pasty-faced gals mutilating his neck with the rim a soda can!

There's some gore abound, including a great money shot where an old woman's severed head falls to the ground when her still-standing corpse is shaken. You also get a dose of nudity from Naschy regulars Mirta Miller (COUNT DRACULA'S GREAT LOVE) and Aurora de Alba (the vampire countess in FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR), who strips down to nothing but a pair of black panties to meet her lover in secret. There's also a rubber-masked killer playing with little voodoo dolls, Vic Winner as the macho professor hero, and an idiot servant (Pierre Besari) who resembles a demented Yaphett Kotto with a nasty birthmark on his face. And let's not forget the incredibly upbeat 1970s score by Juan Carlos Calderón, complete with a froggy-voiced vocalist chanting, "Ba, ba, ba, ba...!"

Though less inspired then most of Klimovsky's other horrors, the film is still entertaining. Dream sequences that include Naschy as a goat-horned devil in full body paint and Mirta Miller painted gold, as well as the ghoulish female zombies make it game, and the film does not take itself too serious. Naschy’s screenplay (penned under his real name, Jacinto Molina) tends to go all over the place, only adding to the groovy delirium on display.

BCI’s fully uncut transfer of VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES is quite stunning and looks almost too good, if that’s possible. Apparently shot open matte, its presented full frame with compositions always looking pretty accurate. Colors are very bold, with excellent picture detail, and the source for the transfer is in impeccable shape. The audio contains three different options; Castillian with optional English subtitles, English-dubbed mono and English Surround Sound. If you want to watch it in English, go with the mono track as the Surround track is noticeably out of sync. One brief scene, which begins at the 1:03:15 mark, was never in the English language export version of the film, and therefore contains a bit of dialogue in Spanish only (on all three audio tracks). The subtitles do not come up automatically for the scene, so you should keep your remote handy to catch the translation.

Extras on the disc include a video introduction with Naschy himself (in Spanish with English subtitles), several minutes of alternate “clothed” scenes lensed (for the Spanish version) to replace nudity present in the feature presentation, the original Spanish beginning and end credits, an international trailer in English and two extensive still galleries (one of still photos, the other of advertising poster and lobby card art). A pull-out booklet contains very informative liner notes by Naschy historian Mirek Lipinski, who gives background on the cast as well as pointing out some flubs that can be found in the film.

BCI’s releases of NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF and VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES are highly recommended purchases. Other Naschy/Spanish horror DVDs are in the pipeline from the company, but a bunch more sit on the sidelines and will only see fruitation if the initial releases do well. So please, especially with the low retail prices, support these! (George R. Reis)