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Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film

NECROPHAGUS

GRAVEYARD OF HORROR
NECROMANIAC

1971

 

Director: Miguel Madrid
Screenplay: Miguel Madrid
Music: Alfonso Santisteban
Cast: Bill Curan, Yocasta Grey (Maria Paz Madrid), Frank Brana, Catherine Ellison, Marisa Shiero (María Luisa Extremeño), Victor Israel, Beatriz Lacy (Beatriz Elorrieta)
Running time: 87 minutes
Eastmancolor

 

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 confusing throughout.

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