The next time you enter a cemetery, look out! There
just may be a living scientist buried in one of those graves. That's the
goofy premise of Miguel Madrid's NECROPHAGUS/EL DESCUARTIZADOR DE
BINBROOK (1971). We'll just refer to it under the US video title,
NECROMANIAC. This no-budget delight gathers together nearly every mad
doctor cliché known to mankind: the scientist who sacrifices himself to
prove his theories about "the origin of man," another
scientist (Frank Brana) who tries to cover up the mad experiment, the
clueless brother (Bill Curran) who arrives upon the death of his wife,
the terrified locals, the tight lipped cemetery man (Spanish horror
mascot Victor Israel).
Michael Sherrington arrives in Scotland to investigate his wife's death
during childbirth. To his horror he also eventually discovers his
brother has had himself buried alive and fed with special nutrients
while entombed. During this period, the scientist has mutated into a
leaf colored creature, resembling a human vegetable with very sharp
claws. And he's hungry for human flesh.
There's much unintentional humor to be found here (mostly due to the
risible English language dubbing) and a nonstop flow of surreal, crystal
clear imagery courtesy of A. Nieva's award winning cinematography. A
bloody pig in a suitcase, a mini bust of the mad doctor, smoke blown
through a skull, dirt from a grave shoveled directly into the camera
lens are just a few of the bizarre images director Madrid serves up. The
editing is disorienting in the kind of way which indicates Madrid did
not know how to shoot scenes so they would "cut together,"
crossing the proverbial line. A conversation between Curran and Israel
during a snowstorm (the flakes look particularly phony) flip-flops the
men back and forth in a noticeably awkward montage. The editing is
Ridiculous dubbed dialogue and overemphatic music cues (every time
villain Brana enters there's a zither-like flourish) add to the schlock
quotient. Ghouls running around in hooded robes and monster masks give
the impression of a Halloween party gone lunatic. With the exception of
Israel, the acting ranges from laughably bad to painfully incompetent.
Leading man Curran's only other credit seems to be the shot-in-Spain,
US-produced western THE SPIKES GANG.
There are some moments in this mess I continue to cherish: Brana
emerging from his sleek limo (complete with TV antenna) in a leather
coat and looking like a gangster from an Italian crime flick (indeed, he
went on to appear in many), the grave mound which appears to be
breathing, a mourner (addressed by Victor Israel as "Mr Skaife"
-- the onscreen cover for Madrid) asking the cemetery man for something
in which to wrap the human skull he is attempting to take home with him.
Beatriz Lacy, a weird looking woman with her big hair and 1950s fashion
sense, generally leaves the impression that she is auditioning for the
role of queen bitch in a Mexican soap opera.
This film is definitely in the so-bad-it's-good category. Madrid also
contributed to the script of Jose M. Elliorita's LAS AMANTES DEL DIABLE
(also 1971) and directed EL ASESINO DE MUNECAS in 1974, another horror
story with undercurrents of necrophilia.
-- Reviewed by
Robert Monell, 2002