Panic Beats - Paul Naschy

Discussion in 'Reader Reviews' started by dwatts, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

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    British Horror, Italian Horror.... the reputation of these two European cinema powerhouses is cemented in the minds of horror fans. Hammer Horror weighs in for the Brits, and Argento takes the Italian corner. Not that these are are the only examples from the respective territories, but let's face it, most horror fans are familiar with both of these without need for further explanation.

    But what of the Spanish? I really don't know much about Spanish cinema, let alone horror cinema. I have had brief forays, such as Cannibal Man, which is excellent. However, I've somehow managed to avoid Paul Naschy all this time. I even went as far as to buy "Werewolf Shadow", and to never watch it!

    A couple of things changed that, mostly thanks for Rue Morgue magazine. Naschy is back in the spotlight with "Rojo Sangre", reportedly his best performance ever. Rue morgue ran an article on the film, and it looks very good indeed. I have put in my order courtesy of the semi-annual DDD sale.

    Along with this, Mondo Macabro have weighed in with another Naschy film on DVD, "Panic Beats". I have precious few Mondo Macabro films in my collection, although they seem to be a Something Weird Video clone.

    The Rue Morgue coverage, coupled with box-art hyperbole: "some of the most brutal murders ever filmed. Definately not the squemish", led me to Naschy's door finally. Today I watched Panic Beats, expecting the worst!

    STORY

    Paul Marnac is wealthy, but mostly due to having married a rich wife. Her family have never warmed to him, treating him pretty much like the peasant he was. Grudges run deep, and his hatred for his wifes family never abates.

    In the mean time, his wife has an ailment, the all-purpose horror standby a "weak heart". Let's face it, once you're diagnosed with that, you know things are going to go bump in the night.

    Wanting to care for his wife, Paul decides to take his wife to his old family vacation house, out in the wilds. There she can rest and enjoy the fresh air, away from the pressures of Paris (yes Paris, this is a Spanish film, but Paris gives a nicer backdrop).

    At the house they are greeted by an old housekeeper, and an neice who has recently been saved from a school that was more like a prison. With a past in prostition and drug taking, the old woman hopes this young girl can be led back to the straight and narrow. Who knows?

    The only fly in the ointment is an old tale about one of Paul's relatives. Having found his wife cheating, he had slain his wife and her three children (sparing two of his own), and had then been tried and executed. Every 100 years he comes back to take revenge on those that cheat.... and that 100 years is just around........ now!

    AFTER WATCHING THE MOVIE

    So now I have come out the other side of my first Naschy experience. I don't know how representative this movie is of the rest of his work, but the fact is, it was a middling affair for me.

    Does Panic Beats live up to that box-art hyperbole? Nah. Not if you've grown up on a diet of Fulci, Argento, Lenzi and Deodato. There's some gut spilling, couple of heads get cracked, and even some pretty damn good looking zombies, but somehow it never manages to get really nasty one way or the other. For those euro freaks there is some nudity to keep your interest, erm, up. And let me tell you, the women in this movie and gorgeous.

    So, with the two basic ingredients out of the way (gore and sex), what are we left with? Well, for one, you get a coherent story. Fulci was great, but sometimes you can think even he forgot the plot of the movies he was making. Not so with Panic Beats, where Naschy has himself a pretty good script. The subs on this release are excellent, by the way. Presented with its original Spanish langauge track (with or without subs), this gave the film a pretty solid basis.

    The filmaking itself isn't anything fancy, but it's certainly not terrible. There are no virtuosos on this film. Everything is pretty much played straight down the line. Frankly, this removes some of the impact of the action sequences, they never quite seem to bite if you know what I mean. There's a rather lacklustre soundtrack too, so that's not doing it any favors.

    The main failing in this film though was the plot itself. Oh, I'm sure at the time it played really well. However, as it want to happen, a decent story once written is destined to be replayed, remade and relayed over and over and over. The main problem with this film is that you know how it's going to play out within the first five minutes. Not because of anything the movie overtly does, but because the story itself has just been done many times before.

    It's all a bit sad really, time have overtaken the film somewhat. When you know every plot twist before it comes, the impact is certainly lessened. Of course, things are not helped by Mondo Macabro giving a huge spoiling on the back of the box. Sure the whole thing is predictable, but did they have to give up the ghost on any possible impact quite as early as that? Coupled with a snippet of the film, played before the menu comes up, that also gives away a key "experience", and you've got to wonder if Mondo Macabro realized the plot was, today, hackneyed, and they couldn't be bothered with any pretense of originality.

    THE DVD

    As I said, I have very few titles from Mondo Macabro. The transfer here is excellent, to be honest. The sound is mono, as it should be. The sound is clear, the sub great.

    The extras excel too. There is a 20 minute featurette on Spanish Horror cinema that gives the highlights, some good info here. Along with that we have a 30 minute interview with Naschy where he talks about his influences, his start in film, and memories of making Panic Beats. It's very well done, and Mondo get kudos.

    SUMMARY

    I have to say, I have mixed feelings about this one. The film itself is rather good, and straddles Hammer gothic along with a strong and strange, european influence, quite well. There is nothing really wrong about the film at all.

    Yet... I was left disatisfied due to a plot that is pretty threadbare through overuse. The promised gore never materialized (the one or two bits were quite good, but somehow with the plain jane filmaking style, it somehow fell flat), and at the end of the day, the sum was less than the parts.

    However, it's far from being bad. I own Werewolf Shadow, so I'll give that a go and do a comparison. Rojo Sangre is on order, so I'll see that too. Naschy does nothing wrong here, and it's a more than competent film. It's just not great. Which is probably more a case of me expecting too much, than anything else.

    Sort of.... recommended.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2005
  2. walkingdude

    walkingdude Megatron

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    Good job Dwatts.Be sure to explore some of Naschy's other work.It is basically the same in many ways,the movies aren't heavy on plot but his performance is always top notch.Here's a couple recommendations for his acting(maybe not for story of course)Crimson,Curse of the Devil(which goes with Werewolf Shadow),Vengeance of the Zombies and Return of the Zombies(can't wait for a DVD release of this title).
     
  3. SaviniFan

    SaviniFan I Have A Fetish

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    Mucha Sangre

    dwatts, I highly recommend Mucha Sangre. I got it as a blind buy based on the trailer and I gotta say, it was worth every cent. Great Naschy film.
     
  4. KamuiX

    KamuiX The Eighth Samurai

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    Yeah, it was decent enough, but nothing spectacular. Seeing Naschy run around half-naked though was a little much for my eyes :lol:

    I'd recommend Rojo Sangre if you haven't seen it...damn good exploitation starring Naschy, but it's way classy in production values.
     
  5. Katatonia

    Katatonia Hellbound Heart

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    I really enjoyed the film, and such a great DVD release from Mondo Macabro.
     
  6. eric_angelus

    eric_angelus Testacular

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    I enjoyed this movie...great companion piece to Horror Rises from the Tomb.
     
  7. I watched this a few weeks back for the first time and thought it was really good. Right after I bought Curse of the Devil and Werewolf Shadow but haven't gotten around to watching them yet.....spending too much time with another spanish director whose work I'm new to....Jess Franco.
     
  8. DefJeff

    DefJeff Franca Stoppi's #1 fan

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    I'm a bit late to the party, but thanks for the insightful review, Dwatts. This is exactly what I was looking for.

    I went ahead and ordered this one tonight after seeing the trailer on the French Sex Murders disc. With that DDD sale still going on, I figured what the hell.

    What did you end up thinking of those other Naschy films you had? Were they better/worse then this? I was debating weither I should pick up Rojo Sangre too, but.. one at a time.
     
  9. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

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    Sorry Defjeff, bad news mate :(

    I have still to watch Werewolf Shadow - and I now have 50 new DVD's waiting for me to go pick up in Florida, but I've not been down there - Rojo Sangre is one of them.

    See that big **IDIOT** sign stamped on my forehead?
     
  10. KamuiX

    KamuiX The Eighth Samurai

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    Rojo Sangre is quite good, for what it's worth...very accomplished exploitation film. It's "classy" sleaze, if that even makes sense :p
     
  11. DefJeff

    DefJeff Franca Stoppi's #1 fan

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    Haha, I definitally know what you mean by "classy sleaze". I'll order Rojo Sangre next if I enjoy Panic Beats enough, thanks!
     
  12. DefJeff

    DefJeff Franca Stoppi's #1 fan

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    'I'm more eviler then you, idiot!"

    Darn, I really wanted to like this one more then I did. While it wasn't without some charm, it ended up being pretty boring.

    Like Dwatts said the main downfall is the plot being so predictable. Now, I wouldn't really have a problem with this but the movie is pretty much all plot up until the 1hr mark when we finally start getting some of the promised gore. The goofy gut spilling/axe scene and the awesome looking zombies were both welcome, but overall the bloodshed really didn't pay off. I will admit alot of the murders were fun to watch though. Did anyone else find it funny when
    Maville fell down the stairs over that trip wire?

    One thing that definitally hurt was that I went into the film expecting it to be quite a bit different. I was picturing it with alot more emphasis on the knight killing people violently and less on plot development and twists.
     
  13. dwatts

    dwatts New Member

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    Sounds like we had the same reaction, Defjeff. It just didn't click. Pity, because it's not awful or anything. For once it's good to see I'm not out on a limb on this one :D
     
  14. KillerCannabis

    KillerCannabis Slow, Deep & Hard

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    I recently got this and really enjoyed it. Sure the plot doesn't have too much going on and the gore certainly didn't live up to the box cover hype, but it had damn good atmosphere. I really dug on the look and feel of the film. It had a cool creepy haunted house vibe going on with some great color schemes and surprisingly good cinematography. Kind of reminded me of a Spanish version of Shock.
     
  15. hellraiser40

    hellraiser40 Active Member

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    Just seen it. Nice movie, drags a little in the middle (not too scary but atmospheric, more akin to the old Universal films) but, and I don't know if this is due to the excellent transfer, the colours are beautiful in this one and it has a cool finale and some excellent, minimal score. And the extras are also worth your time, especially the Naschy featurette, where Naschy seems like the old grandpa who takes his grandson on his lap, ready to tell him all kinds of stories and tidbits about the earlier days. Great package in all.
     

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