Actor Hector Doriani (Paul Naschy) should live a happy life in his vast
mansion, with no financial worries whatsoever since his brother Alex (also
Paul Naschy) has left him a vast fortune - but he is a broken, bitter man,
mainly because everything in his house, in his life, reminds him of his
brother, and the problem here is that his brother was an instant success
as an actor because he acted in a string of horror movies, while Hector,
who tried himself as a serious actor, preferring Shakespeare and the stage
to horror and film, pretty much emerged a failure living in his brother's
shadow. And now Hector lives in a house stuffed with Alex's memorabilia,
with Alex's son Adrián (Sergio Molina), who has become Hector's ward
after Alex's death, and with Alex's butler Eric (Howard Vernon), who loved
Alex dearly (and continues to talk to him in séances).
pleasure that Hector finds is tieing up and shagging prostitutes Eric
supplies him with, dressed up as some of the great historical and
fictional sadists like Rasputin, Bluebeard and Fu Manchu. And Hector likes
Carmen (Caroline Munro), his maid and Adrián's nanny, so much so that he
desperately tries to get intimate with her, but to no avail.
should point out here that all the prostitutes leaving Hector's mansion
are slaughtered by a masked man on their way back to town and then
disappear from earth completely.
Oh, and Andrián recieves visits from
all of his father's most popular horror characters, like the Frankenstein
monster, Dr Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera, el Hombre Lobo Waldemar
Daninsky and Quasimodo (all played by Paul Naschy of course). Are they his
fictional friends or more?
It might also be worth noticing that Carmen
is the ex of the local priest (Fernando Hilbeck), a man who still cannot
give her up despite his vocation that forces him to remain celibate. The
priest has even sent a hobo to spy on her, but then the hobo disappears
(he's killed by the mysterious killer), so the priest gets in touch with
Carmen herself - and ultimately rapes her. Carmen returns home a broken
woman, and now it's an easy thing for Hector to seduce her. While they're
having sex though the mysterious killer makes his way into the mansion and
slaughters them both. Then he takes off his mask and turns out to be -
Adrián, who did not commit suicide as everyone thought of course but was
killed by Hector and his mother (Isabel Prinz), who have long had an
affair (Adrián has earlier killed his mom as well I suppose).
Hector out of the way, Adrián and Eric, who secretly is a black magician,
bring back Alex from the dead. Only too late does Eric realize it's not
Alex he has brought back but the devil himself, who almost immediately
blinds, then kills him. Adrián on the other hand feels quite comfy with
the devil, who looks a lot like his ddad (and is thus played by Paul
Naschy as well).
Probably the most intelligent Paul
Naschy-movie up until then, as it gives his brand of horror a post-modern
twist, but while playing around with horror motives of old and paying
hommage to old school horror, it also manages to tell a quite gory and
even more labyrinthine murder mystery, which the hommage bits are an
actual part of.(rather than just being tagged on for old time's sake). Now
that might all sound a bit brainheavy, but actually the film works quite
well as a genre piece, with suspense, gore and nudity in all the right
places, so it's easily enjoyable, too.
All that said though, I have to
point out the film is no masterpiece, it does lose its story a few times
too often and does feature a few too many silly bits - but it's
entertaining, and, as mentioned above, probably the most intelligent Paul
Naschy movie up until then.