1973's HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB was one of four collaborations between Naschy and director Carlos Aured with the others being the giallo inspired HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN (1974), 1973'S THE CURSE OF THE DEVIL and Naschy's excursion in the mummy mythos, the very gory VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY from 1973. It's always kind of interesting to see Naschy play a thoroughly despicable character as unlike the somewhat heroic and tragic figure of the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, here as the resurrected warlock Alaric De Marnac he channels pure evilness.
Often cited as a favorite among Naschy aficionados as its overflowing with Gothic atmosphere, (lots of) blood, along with nudity and a seemingly throw everything into the plot mentality (some Norse mythology is even worked in) that all add up to a highly entertaining slice of Spanish horror. Although filled with all these definite trappings (along with the very welcome presence of Helga Liné - always a plus) it also seems to have a bit of over the top sensibility to it (even comparatively speaking to other Spanish horror) with the protagonists able to disappear and reappear instantly (you keep waiting for them to twitch their nose ala' BEWITCHED) and Naschy's scenery chewing portrayal of the vengeance seeking warlock. In his introduction to the BCI disc Naschy remarks "remember just have fun". Balancing all this out somewhat is a dreamlike feeling running through the film with long stretches of little or no dialogue and a plot that leaves it up to the women characters to take the lead in the action as the men are shown to be rather ineffectual.
Starting off in medieval France in a setting that every resurrected warlock/witch film is obligated to open with - the evil satanists receiving their comeuppance in a lonely desolate looking countryside. Being led to their execution in a slow moving ox cart is Alaric De Marnac (Naschy) along with his mistress Mabille De Lancre (Helga Line) while overseeing the proceedings is Hugo De Marnac (again Naschy - although with a scar) who condemns his brother to death by reading off a whole laundry list of various evil crimes the satanic pair have perpetuated including vampirism, lycanthropy, black magic, human sacrifices (the list goes on and on...). Alaric is beheaded (with a really nifty prosthetic head), but not before cursing his brother's descendants and Mabille is stripped, hung upside down from a tree and also killed (but not before she too gets to spew put a curse or two).
Bizarrely some of the sequences that could have really been set up as something special are dispensed rather unimaginatively such as a batch of zombies are shown shuffling through the misty swampland, but we're shown them in a faraway distant shot that initially is confusing to who they even are. In addition the resurrection of Alric's head and body is dispensed with in a perfunctory manor with his head simply plopped down in the coffin on top of the body and "whala" up he rises. Mabille's resurrection is handled a bit better with some vague necrophilia overtones and a bloody sacrifice.
Fast forwarding to present day Paris (or at the very least present day Paris via stock footage) we're introduced to Alaric's present day descendant Armand De Marnac (a third appearance by Naschy !) a womanizing playboy-type who counts among his friends a painter Maurice Roland (Víctor Alcázar from IT HAPPENED AT THE NIGHTMARE INN which is soon to be released on blu from Scorpion) who also happens to be a relative of one of the participants in prologue's medieval execution. Hooking up with their girlfriends and another couple they participate in a seance (never a good idea in 70's horror) and are rewarded with the apparition of Alaric's head floating over the table informing them of the location of his decapitated head (which happens to be on Armand's ancestral estate). Armand & Maurice along with their repective female companions decide to head up to the estate for a little "warlock head" scavenger hunt.
Along the way they meet with some thieves who are quickly dispatched by some Paul Naschy ass-whoppin' and then a group of local villagers arrive (who are introduced in order to provide some more zombie warlock fodder later in the movie) to finish them off with a shotgun and a good old fashioned lynching. The theme of robbers lurking in wait on desolate roads is a common theme in Naschy's films and you wonder if that was referencing a incident in his life (although nothing is mentioned in his autobiography).Upon arriving at the estate they find the caretaker along with his two daughters and rather easily happen upon (thanks to Maurice going into a trance) the burial place of Alaric's head and thanks to meddling villagers it's soon "released" later to be joined with his body along with the resurrection of Mabille. Along with some vamparic plot elements in regard to the resurrected couple they also are sustained by ripping out their victims hearts (a favorite modus operandi of Spanish horror) and are able to taker over their victims minds/bodies and later after being bloodily dispatched by one of their minions they're able to resurrect the gory remains as zombies. This all sets up virtual cornucopia of beautiful women in lingerie wondering down hallways with candelabras, gory death by sharp farm implements, some NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD inspired zombie action and of course Helga Liné and a larger then usual cast of 70's Euro babes (unfortunately we do NOT get the hoped for Naschy vs. Naschy climatic duel). The make-up (with the the zombies being a standout) is particularly well done
As usual Naschy seems to have fun in a dual role (with even a bit of a trifecta here) and although he does embellish the modern hero type figure with a bit more personality then usual, it's obvious he's having a lot more fun in the evil warlock role. Although this is not my favorite Naschy it's still vastly entertaining and not to belabor the point, but the film is helped immensely by the presence of Liné (one of this blog's OTHER favorite actresses). With a gorgeous facial structure comprising a look both exotic and aristocratic she was born in 1932 in Berlin and also appeared with Naschy in the well worth seeking out VENGEANCE OF THE MUMMY. She also appeared with Barbara Steele in NIGHTMARE CASTLE (1964), a sultry spy in 1972's HORROR EXPRESS, a heart tearing out reptilian river siren in THE LORELEY'S GRASP and a pretty unforgettable (in more ways then one) vampire in THE VAMPIRES' NIGHT ORGY. She worked steadily up till the mid 2000's and was still shedding her clothes into her 40's - most famously in the the very weird & twisted satanic thriller BLACK CANDLES from 1981(which is rumored to be getting a spankin' new HD release from Code Red at some point).The film was partially shot at the Spanish country home of Naschy in the obvious dead of winter (snow is visible falling in several shots) which most have made it rather uncomfortable for the cast (especially in regards to the female ones).