Latarnia presents CASTILIAN CRIMSON
The Spanish Horror Film





Director: Manuel Cano
Screenplay: Santiago Moncada
Music: Fernando Garcia Morcillo
Cast: Aldo Sambrell, Eva Leon, Fernando Sancho, Alfredo Mayo
Running time: 88 minutes


Penned by the great Santiago Moncada (BELL FROM HELL), Manuel Cano directs this with an unsophisticated zest, employing blaxploitation clichés (US Video title: VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST), documentary on-location footage, lensed in Port Au Prince, Haiti, of elaborately erotic Voodoo rites along with cheap gore effects (a severed head carried around by our protagonist, a reincarnated mummy, looks constructed from cardboard soaked with red paint.)

Spaghetti Western veteran Aldo Sambrell is Gato Nebo, a thousand year old Haitan priest executed along with his lover, Kenya (Eva Leon), for adultery and murder. The opening precredit scene, set in a tropical myth-time, is shot through crimson filters and scored with pulsating native drums. Gato Nebo is fitted out in a long black gown and poisoned with a serpent ring at midnight on a palm lined beach. The dancers swirl around flashing vivid lights, banners and ribbons. Lots of lens flares pump up the hallucinatory ambience. Half naked women taunt the condemned man as he is placed in his symbol-laden coffin while still alive yet unable to move. Cut to Nasa footage of lunar modules and the earth seen from the moon. The Sheriff (Fernando Sancho) narrates, "...begin again." Then Fernando Garcia Morchillo's fuzz guitar rock score kicks in for the opening credits.

Most of the action is set on a cruise ship as Gato Nebo goes berserk, decimating the crew after being awakened. After the boat docks, he appears in an acceptably human persona complete with a mid-seventies chic Nehru jacket. With his shaved head Sambrell suggests Telly Savalas on an LSD jag. He escapes to the airport where he runs a scientist over with a steamroller! This guy means business, obviously.

There's a romance of sorts with the reincarnated Kenya, luckily enbodied by the sensuous Eva Leon, now the secretary of anthropologist Alfredo Mayo (a 70's Spanish horror regular). When cornered by fat Sheriff Fernando Sancho (in the same white Panama Suit he sported in Cano's SWAMP OF THE RAVENS) during a live broadcast of Voodoo ceremonies in Port Au Prince, our favorite mummy escapes with Kenya to an ancient cavern. Sancho arrives with a squad of soldiers armed with flames throwers and our lovers are tragically incinerated in a climax which is simultaneously nihilistic and absurd.

Sambrell really turns on the charm this time around, especially in his normal human guise and proves to be a capable romantic leading man (or mummy). Crusted up and clawed in his monster makeup he makes for nasty looking relic as he runs around the mise en scene decapitating everyone in sight with a ritualistic sword. The legendary Sancho huffs and puffs as he pursues the monster claiming to be nothing more than, "a fat old cop."

This appeared on US video, wonderfully retitled as VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST, cashing in on the blaxploitation angle, the success of THE EXORCIST and the 70s cultural fascination with alternative religions. A totally delirious entertainment package from one of the more obscure Spanish horror auteurs.

-- Reviewed by Robert Monell