Human Beasts (US - DVD R1)
Gabe learns what Paul Naschy really thinks about the human condition...
Bruno (Paul Naschy) is a well-worn mercenary hired by a gang of Japanese militants to teach them the ropes. During the training process Bruno and a particularly pretty lassie merc named Mieko (Eiko Nagashima) fall in love. But despite this affection Bruno decides to double-cross his new friends during a diamond heist, shooting most of them to death. Bruno finds himself on the lam, injured, and pursued viciously by Mieko and the other surviving militants. Almost dead he is found and brought to the home of a mysterious doctor and his two hot daughters.
During the entire runtime of Human Beasts (aka: El Carnival de las Beasts, Pigs, and another title that’s a total spoiler) Paul Naschy does not once turn into a werewolf, resurrect the undead, or drink any human blood. He has no hunched back, he has not himself been resurrected, and there’s no sign of a single mad scientist. So why would you ever want to watch such a thing? Because the breasts are still full and the squibs are still bloody. Despite the film’s lack of fantastic elements it’s every inch a Paul Naschy feature.
Human Beasts is actually one of Naschy’s more structurally balanced, artistically shot, and effectively plotted films. Even the acting is a few steps above the histrionic norm. This isn’t a traditionally ‘good’ motion picture, but when he can’t hide behind the silly intricacies of supernatural horror it seems that Paul has some surprises in store. This particular title was both written and directed by El Hombre Lobo. The character development and mature themes are quite a surprise coming, as is the eloquent framing, and softly lit compositions.
I would say that Naschy was inspired by the mean-spirited real life horrors of Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left, but the timelines don’t quite add up. There are some similarities to the Italian Giallo inspired Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, but besides Craven the most obvious inspiration seems to be the gritty grime of Sam Peckinpah (though the timelines again seem off), or perhaps the Umberto Lenzi , Enzo G. Castellari and Sergio Sollina Italian crime films. Human Beasts’ last act definitely roles into psychological and physical horror territory (taking elements from Fellini of all places) but the rest of the film is a sort of fractured version of every other Euro-crime film you’ve ever seen.
The whole of Human Beasts appears to have been shot with a slightly soft focus. Stylistically this makes for a dreamy atmosphere, and it also makes for a generally cleaner transfer. Once again BCI/Eclipse has remastered an old, cheap, and likely not well maintained feature to just about the most pristine degree possible, and thanks to Naschy’s lighting and focus choices we’re able to avoid many of the artefacts and edge enhancements that have plagued other Naschy Collection releases. The colours are a bit smoky and coolly tinted throughout, but warm colours have punch without a lot of bleeding or noise. Overall detail is lacking, but only slightly, and contrast is very effective.
Aww, no cheesy English dub track for Gabe this time. Well, I suppose if I was meant to watch any Paul Naschy film in its original language it should be one of his more mature features. The sole Castilian Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack has the usual epidemic of distortions at high noise levels. Occasionally the canned sound effects and spoken words don’t match up to the on screen action, and in general the whole track is kind of lifeless. According to Mirek Lipinski, the score was taken from the CAM library, and includes some Ennio Morricone tracks. Generally the score is unmistakably Italian in origin.
The extras begin with another ham-fisted Naschy introduction, and include the usual trailer, Mirek Lipinski liner notes, and still and poster gallery. Though without a commentary or featurette, this disc in Deimos’ Naschy collection sets itself apart by included a bonus short film called The Vampyre, staring Naschy. Vampyre is anamorphically enhanced at 1.78:1, and presented in stereo Castilian with burned English subtitles. It’s a moody little shot on DV piece, though it’s pretty awkwardly amateur, and the video quality makes it a bit difficult to discern the action on screen. Vampyre makes a good companion piece to Naschy’s semi-recent Rojo Sangre.
As with Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, this isn’t a good place for the Spanish Horror layman to start, but the Naschy elite should be very excited by the appearance of one of the man’s rarest features. Human Beasts doesn’t follow the usually genre conventions Naschy usually holds so dear, making it an interesting alternate look at a very odd filmmaker.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 25th March 2008
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono Castilian
Extras: Paul Naschy Introduction, Spanish Credits, 'The Vampyre' Short Film, Trailer, Stills, Liner Notes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jacinto Molina (Paul Naschy)
Cast: Paul Naschy, Luis Ciges, Rafael Hernandez, Eiko Nagashima, Ricardo Palacios
Length: 84 minutes
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