Directed by Carlos Aured
The film opens in France, mid 15th century and we follow a group of knights and soldiers leading Warlock Alaric de Marnac (Paul Naschy) and his mistress Mabille de Lancre to their place of execution. Tried for witchcraft, cannibalism and trafficking with Satan, Alaric is sentenced to be decapitated and his body laid to rest apart from his head. Before the judgment falls upon him he curses his brother, his accuser Andre Roland and his ancestors. Swearing revenge upon his return.
Hugo de Marnac, his girlfriend Sylvia, Maurice Roland and his girlfriend Paula agrees to join some friends to a seance to contact the dead. Hugo has the brilliant idea of trying to contact his ancestor Alarick, as the legend claims that his head is buried near a monastery on Hugo's land. The seance turns sinister quickly as Alaric's ghostly image appears and proclaims he can never rest until his head is joined with his body. Armed with this newfound knowledge and belief in the supernatural, Hugo and his friends decide to travel to his estate, secluded deep within the mountains to find the remains of Alaric. As they arrive to the forsaken place the search quickly bears fruit and the curse suddenly has a terrifying and deadly meaning to Hugo and his friends.
Horror Rises From the Tomb was written by the late, great Paul Naschy (Jacito Molina Alvarez) where he also plays both the evil warlock Alaric de Marnac and his ancestor Hugo who's trying to fight off the curse. Naschy does a superb job as usual in both part, but it is as the evil Alaric he's most memorable here. The film was directed by Carlos Aured who helmed several of the Naschy films from the 70s such as Curse of the Devil (1973) and Blue Eyes of a Broken Doll (1974). This has long been one of my favorite horror films, due to the creepy, brooding atmosphere, gory violence and superb soundtrack.
As if it wasn't enough with the evil Alaric and his mistress skulking around, the farmhands they murder return to life and stalks the estate with milky white eyes, trying their best to kill Hugo and his company. At their best, some of the zombie scenes evokes the atmosphere of goremeister Lucio Fulci's best walking dead moments!
In one of its more disturbing moments, Hugo and his friends are carjacked and assaulted by two escaped convicts on their way to his estate. Just as things are about to go wrong, some locals show up armed with shotguns and rope to apprehend the criminals. Their leader quickly proclaims authority and hangs one of the thugs from a tree by the road. This scene always sends a shiver down my spine as it seems cold, merciless and bleak, and it sets the tone beautifully for the remainder of the film.
The soundtrack features haunting organ melodies that fits perfectly to the shadowy swap landscapes that are frequent throughout the film.
Vampires, sex, the living dead, great gory killings and Paul Naschy starring as two parts, Horror Rises From the Tomb has everything a great 70s Euro horror film should have. I just can't recommend this one enough; just see it already!