Saturday, April 9, 2022

beat surrender.

After revisiting the Naschy-tastic Horror Rises From The Tomb t'other night I thought it was only fair to rewatch the (semi) sequel.

Not just because it's bloody brilliant but because the last time I watched/reviewed it no-one noticed.

Which is fair enough I guess.

Panic Beats (1983).
Dir: Paul Naschy.
Cast: Paul Naschy, Julia Saly, Lola Gaos, Frances Ondiviela and Silvia Miró.

It is the ye olden times somewhere in the French countryside (again) and top TeeVee weathergirl Carol Kirkwood (or a very convincing lookie-likey) is running naked and blood spattered thru' the fog enshrouded trees in an attempt to escape an unseen assailant.

Well either that or she's late for work.

Stumbling thru' the mist and dodging a collection of plastic joke shop skulls she soon stumbles to the ground, turning to face her tormentor - a clanking, wide-hipped knight carrying a blood stained mace.

Behold the stare of the evil Alaric de Marnac - last seen being bested by button nosed uber-babe Emma Cohen in the afre-mentioned Horror Rises From The Tomb.

Yup, that'll be Paul Naschy then.

Lifting his helmet visor our bearded badman raises his mace (which surprisingly for Naschy isn't a euphemism) and begins to strike down on the poor presenter.

Your mom after bingo night.

No sooner has this blood drenched big bushed beating begun than we're transported - thru' the power of shitey synth score and clumsy dissolves - to 'the modern day' and the city of Paris to be more precise where we meet the portly - yet clean shaven - Paul de Marnac (Naschy again, you know the drill), another distant relative of the evil Alaric who is busy discussing how best to deal with his fur coat wearing and possibly knicker-less wife Geneviève's (vacant eyed Naschy regular and Night of The Seagulls star Saly) fragile health.

Yup the poor woman suffers from a weak heart and 'the nerves', so the family doctor advises Paul to take her up the de Marnac ancestral house (which is in fact a house, a very big house in the country which used to belong to General Franco in real life fact fans) to recuperate.

As with the last film the pair are accosted on their journey by a pair of ragamuffins giving Paul a chance to show off the karate skills he learned filming The Beasts' Carnival in Japan three years earlier before getting back in the car and heading off to the house.

No matter how hard she tweaked Frances Ondiviela just couldn't tune her full size Ronko Naschy Radiogram to 6Music.

Arriving later than planned the pair are greeted by the a pound shop Mrs Doyle the almost mummified Maville (The Legend of Blood Castle's Gaos) and her naughty niece Julie (Ondiviela, a dirty minded dream in denim obsessed with Dexy's Midnight Runners last seen in Un refugio para el amor), who takes an instant dislike to poor Genevieve, thinking herself more worthy of some Naschy nuptials.


As the weeks go by tho' Genevieve and Julie grow closer, taking long walks in the woods whilst the minx-like maid regales the wobbly wifey with tales of the infamous Alaric and how he rises from the grave every hundred to murder unfaithful women with a mace.

This all began when he discovered his own wife being bummed by a binman all those years ago and his reputation grew from there.

Surprisingly tho' there's absolutely no mention of the cannibalism, blood-drinking, drawing penises on pictures of the mayor, buggery, false promises of 350 million quid to the NHS post Brexit and human sacrifice that he was accused of (alongside what we must now assume was his second wife) in the earlier film.

Which is kinda frustrating for those of us with a hard on for continuity fests.

Not to worry tho' as no doubt Naschy will appear topless at some point giving us at least something to spill our seed over.

"Chase me now!"

This knowledge seems to trigger something in Genevieve's muddled mind and it's not long before she's seeing snakes slithering across tombstones, scary suits of armour wandering around the drawing room and skulls in the butter dish, causing her health and her mind to grow ever more fragile.

Meanwhile Paul is making more and more frequent trips to Paris due, he says, to 'work commitments' tho' in reality he's off visiting his mistress Mireille (bird-faced, perm-headed Miró) whose first appearance, sprawled across a cheap motel bed resplendent in a skin-tight leopard print cat-suit (and tiny skirt) ranks as probably the most erotic scene ever committed to celluloid.

Even the bright pink bedside lap looks rude.

"Easy leopard!" - I really didn't think that one thru' did I? Should have really made a pussy joke and be done with it.

But that's not the only girl trouble Paul has, as you see he's also actually in love with Julie and it transpires that she's been feeding Genevieve all these horrific stories in order to give her a heart attack so she can have Paul (and his massive girth) all to herself.

Well she's only flesh and blood.

It's not like a man of Naschy's stature would write in all those scenes of younger and younger women throwing themselves at him for any other reason than to forward the plot is it?

Bored with playing second fiddle to the by now shot to fuck Genevieve, Julie hatches the ultimate plan to rid herself of her love rival and with the help of the two robbers from earlier (whom Paul has said have been killed by the police), the always present armour and a handy pound shop skeleton mask and with poor Maville drugged into unconsciousness the pair finally rid themselves of Paul's pesky wife before jumping into bed together to celebrate.

Little do they realise tho' that Maville is watching.

Heading off to Paris to oversee the funeral Paul is shocked to find Mireille lounging in his flat naked and with a big cigar in her mouth and a plan to marry him herself.

With no other option left to him our hero indulges in 'the sex' with her before attempting to strangle his lover in her sleep with a silk stocking.

Unfortunately his almost constant breaking wind wakes Mireille up and the pair have breakfast instead.

Just like your parents used to.

Stressed to fuck and feeling flustered Paul returns home (his other home obviously) only to be confronted by Maville who demands that he be a good boy and dump the evil Julie.

With no other choice left to him he sets up an elaborate trap which causes the old lady to fall down the stairs and, um bang her head leaving Julie no option but to strangle her aunt.

As they attempt to hide the body tho' who should turn up unannounced but a thigh-booted  is interrupted Mireille wearing what looks like the cast of The Lion King on her back and demanding sex from her boss.

The request is met by an axe in the stomach and head by Julie. 

Frances Ondiviela: you would, I would, your dad did. Twice.
Tidying away the bodies and scrubbing the floors clean the pair are soon wed and enjoying almost constant sexual shenanigans.

Well Paul is because it seems that Julie is playing a longer game.

You see she's been in contact with the mysterious 'Maurice' - her ex pimp cum drug dealer cum lover with whom she's been planning to kill Paul and inherit his cash.

What a rotter.

...And here's Carol with the weather....and it looks like damp patches all round.

Will Paul get wise to his wife's wicked ways or will he did an embarrassing death by nude electrocution in a tiny bath tub?

Will Julie actually succeed with her plan to inherit the de Marnac fortune or will the evil Alaric (who's been conspicuous by his absence) actually turn up to extract revenge on her for abusing his family?

And will Julie ever put on the saucy maid outfit again that she wore for one scene earlier or will I have to just screengrab it for posterity?

Written and directed by Naschy himself as well as being produced by star Saly,  Panic Beats is a bizarro follow up cum remake of the aforementioned Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973) but this time with an added dash of Les diaboliques (1955) and Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) for good measure.

Look if you're gonna steal then steal from the best.

But those unaccustomed Naschy's oeuvre who might be expecting a straight sequel may be a little confused as, much like the great man's Daninsky Werewolf movies, Naschy eschews the whole formula of a continuing story arc, preferring instead to re-use characters and situations within a completely unrelated story giving the whole thing a sense of deja vu at times, especially when Paul and Genevieve are accosted by robbers on the road.

Good job then that viewers never tire of Naschy - quite literally - throwing his weight around.

Luckily for the most part the movie does it's own thing and Naschy plays the whole idea of Genevieve's faltering mental state at a slow, almost funeral pace occasionally throwing in some shocks or nudity to keep the viewers interest as the double crossing deals are uncovered.

And it's this part of the plot if anything that falls flat seeing as the cast is so tiny (and Naschy such a showman) that it'd be a surprise if it were anyone but him (and Julie) behind the murder plot.

It's a wee bit like the revelation in Count Dracula's Great Love that the mysterious Doctor Marlow is, in fact, the bloodsucking Count.

I mean Paul Naschy has spent the last 40 odd minutes wandering around in a cape avoiding sunlight....who else is it going to be?

Luckily once the revelations and back-stabbings are revealed there's enough of them to keep you interested.

And it's almost as if Naschy knows that at points the plot gets maybe a wee bit too ludicrous so every now and then he gets Frances Ondiviela (or Silvia Miró or even Naschy himself) to strip naked and take your mind off it.

Which is very thoughtful of him, if only Rian Johnson had done this with The Last Jedi then it might have just been watchable.

"Hello are you the blind man?"

Talking of watchability the cast on show here (in more ways than one) are all top notch, from Julia Saly's waif-like Genevieve to Frances Ondiviela's bad girl antics via Silvia Miró's fantastically frightening fashion choices every one's a winner - mad, bad and dangerous to know but all linked by their unearthly (some would say ungodly) attraction to Naschy.

Tho' they're only flesh and blood. 

 As are we all when it comes to the great mans movies and as with most (all?) of them, Panic Beats is a thoroughly enjoyable experience that's a heady mix of gloomy gothic horror and gory giallo.

Yes it's true that the mystery aspect is more Agaton Sax than Agatha Christie but this just adds to its charm.

Scarier than your dad drunk and sexier than your wee sister on smack Panic Beats is a must see.

No, really.

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