Weighing my options carefully, I decided that this little get-together would provide a chance to wear a fabulous outfit. Besides, there was a mention in this missive of an introduction to someone new and wonderful...
In the lull that always comes between the dessert course and the customary abuse of the chambermaid, I spied a stranger seated upon the divan in the corner of the room. His clear appreciation of outlandish personal attire coupled with his majestic bearing enchanted me even from afar. Within a moment of the introduction the Vicar of VHS afforded us, I was smitten entirely with this Iberian rake.
I feel dreadful posting this where Dario can read it, but... I think I'm in love with Paul Naschy.
Watching "Vengeance of the Zombies" on Sunday provided my very first Naschysperience--yes, I'm a late-comer to this particular cinematic revelation, internet. Nobody's perfect. Fortunately, I have Friends In Low Places to take corrective measures and point me in the direction where Awesomeness lives. There is so much to love in "Vengeance of the Zombies" that it's kind of difficult to know where to begin.
The film tells the story of an evil Indian mystic who is seeking revenge by creating an army of zombie slaves. Working against him is a good Indian mystic and his sexy model love interest. Set in Swinging London and the English countryside, there are ample opportunities for both gothicry and grooviness as well as far-out occult madness, and the film delivers on all counts.
First off, Paul Naschy has the most amazing charisma--he's utterly convinced that he is the coolest, most capable, sexiest man in whatever film he's appearing in. His beefy machismo and melodramatic mannerisms embody the aphorism "Fake It Till You Make It." Naschy plays three roles in "VotZ," giving him opportunities to play the hero and two villains, including Satan himself. Also, he is frequently shirtless, displaying a physique not unlike that of a dockworker. But, like, a really self-assured dockworker who would totally kick your ass for snarking on his vanity.
There is a kitchen sink approach to this movie that's just dizzying--horror trope is piled on top of horror trope. Why pick between witchcraft, voodoo and Kali worship when you could just cram all three together into an epic mega-statement of Black Magic Badness? More = More Better in el Mundo Naschy. Now, moving right on to that hott voodoo goodness, I have a deep and abiding love of voodoo-sploitation and this movie has some of the zaniest moments in the subgenre, with slow-motion zombie girls in diaphanous gowns, a mysterious masked magician, and wild occult rituals. Delicious, friends--just delicious. Sure, the film gets the reality of voodoo bass-ackwards, but if I wanted to watch a documentary, I'd... well, you wouldn't be reading this essay, that's for damn sure.
Also, swamis are fucking cool, and I think more movies should have more swamis. Seriously, gentlemen, I want to see the turban-and-suit look make a comeback stat.
Moving on to the technical aspects of the film, director Leon Klimovsky creates a lush and effective look on a tight budget. I make no bones about having a great affection for the fisheye lens. This movie makes wonderful use of fisheye shots, adding an off-kilter, disorienting touch to the on-screen weirdness. The use of slow-motion shots when the zombies are on-screen was a nice touch, in spite of semi-problematic makeup choices. It's really a triumph of creativity and vision over throwing money at the visual effects.
Set design and costuming are fantastically overstated, with saturated pinks and reds dominating, and embellishments everywhere. As the Hell's Angels would say, this is "showing class." Do nothing by halves and all that.
"But is there a flippin' funky soundtrack?" you're asking. Why--of COURSE there is! Supplementing all these visual delights is a smashingly prog-jazzy score to add to that "tapped gently on the cerebral cortex with a rubber mallet" feeling that one seeks when watching such films.
I'm sorry--I could go on gushing, but I'll spare you the intimate details of my newfound passion. Enjoy this gallery of film stills on Flickr while I moon over my latest crush, won't you?