Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rare Flix: Crypt of the Living Dead

Can a film live up to its awesome poster?  The question is raised yet again by today's film- Crypt of the Living Dead.  Oh wait, I mean Hannah, Queen of the Vampires.  I mean, Young Hannah, Queen of the Vampires.  Yeah, this film has about as many titles as a Zombi film.  This is a Spanish film that got dubbed, had some new footage added and was released in the United States.  Does the film contain zombies?  No.  However, Romero's film was only about five years old at this point, so it was ripe for copying.  The plot actually involves some sort of evil witch coming back to life.  Oddly, this film is apparently more readily available than The Brain, since it actually has a DVD release from way-back-when.  Who'd have thunk it?  Let's see if this turns out as well.  Prepare to fight some vampire-zombies as we enter the...
The film starts with a random guy wandering around for about five minutes.  He eventually gets attacked by a bearded man with an eye-patch (Jean-Pierre Lafitte?!?) and crushed by a tomb.  Next, we see a guy goes to an island in the middle of...somewhere.  The film is a bit vague about this, at least in the dubbed version that I had.  Why am I not surprised?  He's there to bury his father and gets caught up in the local folklore.  It would be nice if one island didn't have a secret cult, some buried monster or a penchant for murdering 40+ year-old British virgins.  Is that too much to ask?  Our hero, of course, has none of this and just focuses on the task ahead.  The townspeople- including a blind guy with the worst fake beard since Return to Sleepaway Camp- will not let this go.  They tell him all about this evil, vampire lady who is buried there, but he doesn't care.  Open the crypt!
The witch/vampire lady is awakened, but doesn't feel like doing anything over just yet.  No, she's one of those 'I'll wait until later to do anything' villains.  She does, however, go outside and turn into a wolf.  She does this by way of spraying out the green smoke from the Wizard of Oz.  No, really.  We get more random moments with the townspeople, as well as a sub-plot involving our hero and the film's only non-vampire woman.  She's a teacher, who serves as background to another sub-plot involving two students.  It only matters for the ending, so don't focus too much on it.  I assume that if I skip ahead, something serious will happen here...
Well, I was somewhat correct.  After a lot of teasing it, the crazy, bearded guy finally gets killed.  The teacher's sub-plot comes to bear as her brother (I think) proves to be the lead guy behind a cult worshiping the vampire lady.  That sure added a lot, thank you.  In the final confrontation, the vampire lady gets set on fire and runs off of a cliff.  That's cool, but I'd rather see you drive a car while on fire.  In the Epilogue, the girl from earlier invites the kid inside with her.  Big shock- she's a vampire.  The End.
You should have stayed dead.  The plot of this movie is alright, but nothing special.  It's the pacing that kills the experience, unfortunately.  I wanted to like this- really, I did.  Even in 1973, nothing about the story was all that unique.  Mind you, I have to judge this film fairly.  The movie was made in Spain, Edited in America and had new footage added as well by an American director.  I don't know what parts were made by whom, nor do I know what writing changes were made for the dubbing process.  As far as the visuals go, the movie has some nice looks to it.  It reminded me a bit of Night of the Seagulls, which would make sense since they were both Spanish.  If you can find the film, it's not bad.  I would love to get my hands on the original version of the film and judge it properly.  Of course, the big thing is this- there is never a moment where a lady walks out of a coffin with a wolf head.  What's the deal?!?
Next up, we cover a film that is all about alchemy.  Will this be a pile of lead or gold?  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Im a fan, its got enough eerie gothic appeal to win me over.