Gothic Voodoo Indian Zombies!
Krisna (Paul Naschy) is an Indian guru living in London in the early 70’s and he has a decent, if humble, following. Among them is Elvire (Romy), an English woman looking for peace and guidance. Unfortunately for her, Krisna has a long-lost evil brother, Kantaka (also played by Naschy) who was horribly disfigured in a fire and has come to London to seek vengeance on those four families from India who harmed him and then moved away to England. Kantaka isn’t looking for ordinary revenge, however; he’s come to the swinging city wielding voodoo, raising the dead and guiding these corpses to murder all those who deserve death for what they’ve done, even his brother Krisna! Can Elvire stop this mad Indian voodoo priest or will she die along with all the rest?
As you can see, this plot is pretty convoluted. Throw in a bunch of surreal dream sequences and pretty soon, I wasn’t really sure what was going on, who was who, and where exactly we were headed. At some point I surrendered caring and then the plot focused in and I was onboard. Vengeance is an interesting take on the zombie subgenre, Naschy trying to return it to its Haitian roots via India (!). It’s not very successful in that respect, because once the living dead started feasting on human flesh, it was hard to go back to pasty-faced ghouls who drift around and choke people to death. However, there are plenty of surreal moments in this film, and sometimes those drifting corpses are more than a bit creepy. Add in the dream sequences where Naschy gets to play a horned Satan and the film is suddenly elevated beyond the normal tripe. And that score! Wild and jazzy and almost totally inappropriate and so very 70’s. Also, lots of boobs, themes of religious violence and dashes of blood never hurt my feelings any.
In the end, Vengeance of the Zombies is a cool, nutty idea that doesn’t quite work but also is outrageously entertaining. There are bits that are downright strange and bizarre. If you want to see this, know what you’re getting into, which is some decent if not incredible gothic chills, a few spiffy-looking voodoo ceremonies, zombies that look more like vampires from a Hammer film, and a really cool Satanic dream sequence. All that combined with an insane score makes this one worth recommending.
Three Stars out of Four