A couple of centuries or so ago, evil warlock Alaric de Marnac (Paul Naschy) is sentenced to death by his religious rival. He and his consort are executed. Alaric has his head chopped off and buried somewhere separate from his body. Before he dies, he curses them (of course), swearing that one day he will reunite his head and body and then he will carry out his revenge on the descendants of those who killed him. Flash forward to the 1970s, and a descendant of the Alaric clan (also Paul Naschy) and his friends are dazzled during a séance by a message from beyond the grave, supposedly from Alaric. He compels them to travel to a familial country estate and once they arrive, he manipulates them into finding the chest where his head is buried. A couple of locals steal the chest and open it, finding Alaric’s head, very much alive, and very much in control. He possesses one of the men who goes on a murderous rampage, bringing back some of the group at the estate to also be possessed. In the end, it’s the modern-day descendant and his companion vs. the resurrected Alaric and his consort. Can they stop this evil man or will they fall just like the others?
Paul Naschy is a Horror icon for a certain level of Horror fan. I think there’s Five Levels to Horror Fandom: 1. The Casual Fan; watches current movies, enjoys them, leaves it there. 2. The Fan; sees current movies, some of the classics, and knows a bit about the genre. 3. The Deep-Cut Fan; who knows the classics and does a deeper dive into more niche subgenres, including Foreign Horror. 4. The Nut; the fan who loves all of the above and goes even deeper, particularly deeper into foreign films and mining for hidden gems, scouring forgotten films and discovering slimy classics. 5. Total Scumbag; they’ll watch any Horror anytime, and they’re lost in the deepest mines of obscurity, chipping away at stone walls trying to find their next, surprise fix. Naschy falls somewhere between 3 and 4; he’s not so obscure that he’s hard to find, but most common fans don’t know shit about him. He made a ton of movies and most of them are pretty damned entertaining. Horror Rises From the Tomb is one of his best. He really dives into the multiple roles with gusto. There’s a lot of physicality to his acting and his movies aren’t afraid to be shocking and full of blood. There were two versions of this one filmed, one with nudity for markets outside of Spain, and one without the nudity. Guess which one I watched? And yes, beautiful women, lots of boobs and bush, and some naked man-ass if that strikes your fancy. This is a fun movie, gothic and crusty in all the right ways, filled with occult rituals and evil magic, as well as a cool, odd-looking sickle used to cut out hearts and murder folks. This one has crumbling ruins, a decrepit estate, tombs and musty old chambers, blood and hearts and nudity (oh, and a passel of zombies, too). I mean, how can you not like this?
A great film and one full of bombastic performances and bloodletting, don’t pass this one up. If you’re a fan of Hammer films and the old Universal flicks, you’ll get all of the romantic atmosphere those movies offered with a deluge of blood and naked bodies. Only in the 70s could such a combination first be possible, and Naschy and crew dive into the depravity with gloating glee.