Thursday, December 22, 2005

Panic Beats-1983

Image hosted by

Jacinto Molina directs this take of murder and betrayal. If his real name doesn’t ring a bell, you might better know him as Paul Naschy, keeper of about 9 other pseudonyms. Ah, Paul Naschy—it seems that every time I picked up an issue of Fangoria after a hiatus, it featured an article/interview with Paul Naschy. While Naschy seems to be most associated with the Wolfman, he’s dabbled in zombies as well—he both wrote and starred in El Espanto surge de la tumba (Horror Rises from the Tomb) and La Rebelion de las muertas (Vengeance of the Zombies)—both in 1973. Ten years later in Latidos de panico—Panic Beats—Naschy would write, play the dual roles of Paul/Alaric de Marnac, and direct. Interesting to note, Naschy is reprising this role of Alaric from Horror Rises from the Tomb, in which Alaric is a medieval French warlock who is executed along with his wife. This character is loosely based on real life monster, Gilles de Rais—a 15th century French nobleman, who kidnapped, tortured and murdered numerous children.

Image hosted by

Panic Beats tells the tale of a man named Paul and his sickly wife, Genevieve, who suffers from a heart condition. As advised by a doctor, Paul moves his wife out of Paris to his family mansion near Perrouze, France, for some peace, fresh air, and other things that are supposed to be good for her health. The house is cared for by Maville, who has taken care of Paul since he was a child, and her niece Julie, whom you don’t quite like straight from the beginning. As they are preparing for the arrival of Paul and Genevieve, Maville relates to Julie the story of Alaric de Marnac, a knight and ancestor of Paul, who lived from 1515-1565—there’s a large portrait of him hanging in the house with a look on his face like he ate the last piece of cheesecake.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by

The opening scene of the film gives you a hint: Alaric, fully garbed in knight-gear, rides his horse after his naked wife, who has apparently been unfaithful. He ends the scene quite nicely by beating her to death with his double-headed morning star. After killing his adulterous wife, he goes on to kill the three of their five children (which, by the way, she sure didn’t look like she squeezed out five kids) that he didn’t think were his. Of course, in good Naschy fashion, he falls into “witchcraft and devil worship”, drinking blood and all that good stuff. His brother-in-law eventually kills him, with an arrow through the heart. Later, as Julie and Genevieve stroll down a path, Julie reveals that Alaric is said to return every 100 years to punish the Marnac women who live in the house—which would, of course, be Genevieve.

Image hosted by

It’s little wonder that Genevieve has a heart condition as she freaks out at everything. They get mugged on the road, she freaks out. She sees a snake, she freaks out. There’s some bloody eyeball mush where her lunch should be…she freaks out. Somehow, this house doesn’t seem like the ideal place to take a woman with a heart condition. Hmmm, something’s suspicious! There’s some bad stuff going down in the Casa de la Marnac, but who’s responsible? Is it Julie? Is it Paul? Is it Alaric? I’m not going to tell you, but I will say that while not being set historically, Panic Beats gives off a nice gothic horror feel—which is something I always enjoy.

Image hosted by

Like Horror Rises from the Tomb and Vengeance of the Zombies, the zombies in Panic Beats appear late, but better late than never. The seem to be the punished Marnac women, acting as the opening number for the arrival of the vengeful Alaric de Marnac, with their faces so putrefied that their features are almost obscured and their long straggly hair looks treated with their own bodily decay.

Image hosted by

Julia Saly (Genevieve) is a familiar fixture with Naschy, also appearing in El Retorno del Hombre-Lobo (Night of the Werewolf, 1980) and El Carnaval de las bestias (The Beast’ Carnival, 1980) and can gasp and swoon with the best of them. Lola Gaos (Maville) also appeared on Jorge Grau’s Ceremonia sangrienta (The Bloody Countess, 1973) and had worked previously with Saly in Rafael Gil’s La Guerilla in 1972.

Image hosted by


Anonymous Eva said...

I enjoyed this post thanks for sharing

8:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home