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08 October 2009

Bracula - Terror of the Living Dead!

Over at DVDBeaver, you'll find my review of Troma's not-so-perfect "restoration" of Jose Luis Merino's zombie chiller ORGIA DE LOS MUERTOS under its U.S. title THE HANGING WOMAN. A young man arrives in an Eastern European village for the reading of his uncle's will. On the lonely walk to the village via the cemetery road, he bumps into the hanging corpse of his cousin, the count's daughter. When it is learned that he is the principal heir, he becomes a suspect but the village has more than a few skeletons (and zombies) hidden away. A delightful piece of Eurocult horror with its share of sex and gore, this Italian-Spanish co-production was cut for an R-rating for its US release under the aforementioned English title but a longer version showed up on tape in the eighties as RETURN OF THE ZOMBIES but that was missing some dialogue scenes found in the US version (cut to fit the film on a 90 minute tape). Troma's composite is missing some footage despite claiming to be "The Final Cut" and it is NOT a restoration. It used readily available video sources rather than sourcing film elements. The uncut version has been available on tape but with foreign subtitles so the disc is not a restoration so much as a composite in disappointing quality. The extras are nice, though. We get a subtitled commentary (the comments lag behind the action because 1) it is recorded for the Spanish covered version, 2) it was recorded to accompany a PAL-speed recording, 3) there is a bit of missing footage early on that causes a further gap). There are subtitled interviews with the director and the actor Paul Naschy, a career overview of the actor, a trailer, a cool poster/lobby card gallery, and an entire second feature: the little seen SWEET SOUND OF DEATH, a black and white Spanish ghost story that is as inspired by THE TWILIGHT ZONE as it is CARNIVAL OF SOULS. There is also an interview with the English dubbing director of that film Ben Tator (who directed the dubbing of several major Spanish horror productions throughout the late sixties and into the late seventies).

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