Thursday, October 15, 2009

the hanging woman

I suspect at this point I don't need to add much to the heap of reviews on the Troma Team's DVD of The Hanging Woman, but I would like to clarify a couple things. First, it's not really a Naschy film -- Naschy does have a role, and it's *fantastic*, but it's not a very large role, so if that's your primary interest you might wanna keep that in mind. Second, it's not really one for the gorehounds -- it's more a Gothic parlor mystery along the lines of Bava's Operazione parua (Kill, Baby...Kill!) than any Fulci-style action. It moves at a pretty brisk pace, and they throw in pretty much every genre convention in the book, which for me is a big plus -- secret laboratory, creepy gravedigger, bodiced heroines, underground catacombs, the walking dead, seances, peeping toms, I mean you name it and it's in here somewhere. That said, if you're looking for heavy gore and nudity, there's a little of both but not enough to keep the hounds interested. Also, the hero looks like a coked-out Chuck Norris, which might raise the hackles a bit. All of this is beside the point, however, because the film goes after all this stuff with gusto and obvious love of the genre, and manages enough oddball turns to really make it engaging beyond the cheap thrills -- the locations are absolutely beautiful and varied, the cast is willing to go for it, and the camerawork throws in for some wowie-zowie often enough to keep me satisfied. It's really a great Halloween film and the print, while not perfect (it's full-frame cropped, as that's the only remaining full print, but you really have to be pretty anal to complain something about that here) is totally watchable. If that's not enough, there's tons of great extras, including plenty of Naschy stuff and one thing I haven't seen many people talk about, a complete second feature, Javier Seto's The Sweet Sound of Death. I saw this at South By Southwest a long time ago and it always stuck with me, and I'm delighted to have a copy -- it's a black and white film which begins like a swinging '60s bit of neorealist arthouse which gradually morphs into a really satisfying Gothic thriller. I won't spoil the story, but it really deserves more attention than it's getting and would be well worth the budget-friendly cost of nine bucks right now on Amazon all by itself. It's also one of the first roles Dyanik Zuakowska ever played, later playing Doris in The Hanging Woman. Don't miss this! One of my favorite reissues of the year!

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