Horror Rises From the Tomb Poster

Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973) Review

I decided to revisit Paul Naschy’s Horror Rises from the Tomb and ended up with a bit more nostalgia than I had planned. I couldn’t find my Blu-ray and while it is available to stream, it’s a restored, copy of the uncut version which is the version I originally saw on VHS way back when. But it’s still a dubbed version rather than the subtitled version I was going to watch.

It might come as a surprise to some folk, but it wasn’t that long ago that most foreign horror, action, etc. films were dubbed rather than subtitled. Subtitles were reserved for serious dramas and art films. Even the original Mad Max was dubbed due to fears the Australian accents would be hard to understand. Curious to see how I’d react to a dubbed version after all these years, I decided to stream it rather than tear the place apart looking for the disk.

The film opens with a brief prologue in which Alaric de Marnac (Paul Naschy, School Killer, The Werewolf and the Yeti) and his mistress Mabille de Lancre (Hela Line, Horror Express, Madame Olga’s Pupils) are executed for the usual crimes of black magic, cannibalism, etc. Both lay curses on their captors, which includes Alaric’s twin brother also played by Naschy, before their execution. He’s beheaded, with his head and body to be buried separately. She’s hung upside down from a tree, naked, of course.

Horror Rises From the Tomb 8

The film flashes forward to Paris in the 1970s, where Hugo (Naschy yet again) and some of his friends, Paula (Cristina Suriani, My Dearest Señorita, The Dracula Saga), Sylvia (Betsabe Ruiz, The Loreley’s Grasp, Return of the Blind Dead), and Maurice (Vic Winner, Vengeance of the Zombies, It Happened at Nightmare Inn) are invited to a seance. The skeptical Hugo suggests the medium contact his ancestor Alaric de Marnac, something he’ll come to regret. Maurice, who’s a professional artist, is similarly affected and ends up with a portrait of the headless sorcerer.

After occurrences like these, what choice do the group have except to take a trip to Hugo’s family estate and look for Alaric’s remains?

Naschy, who wrote Horror Rises from the Tomb under his actual name, Jacinto Molina and director Carlos Aured (Apocalipsis sexual, Curse of the Devil) pause the supernatural happenings long enough to have the group attacked by bandits who are promptly executed by equally sinister vigilantes. Once they arrive at their destination, however, the film becomes an entertaining mix of black magic, undead sorcerers, living heads, and zombies.

Horror Rises From the Tomb 4

Horror Rises from the Tomb is a great example of European exploitation films. There are plenty of bloody deaths, including but not limited to, beheadings, stabbings, a lynching and some torn out hearts. The film has a fairly large cast and a body count to match, with some scenes such as the bandit attack seemly included for no other reason other than to pad the film’s kill count.

There is also plenty of nudity, as just about every female cast member get their clothes off at some point. The two are frequently combined, such as when Mabille is resurrected by having a naked woman sacrificed over her skeleton. Or her appearing naked to a victim reading a skin mag who can’t believe his good fortune. Alaric similarly tends to appear in the rooms of nude, or at least topless, soon to be victims. It may not be in good taste, but it is very entertaining.

Like many European horror films, Horror Rises From the Tomb frequently either makes no sense or simply leaves important details unexplained. The filmmakers rely on visuals and atmosphere rather than plot to hold the film together. While that can frequently backfire, it works here, as there’s enough well staged distractions to keep viewers from wondering about these lapses. You just accept what you see, be it bandits, disembodied heads, or the sudden appearance of Romero style zombies, at least until after the film is over.

Horror Rises From the Tomb 1

Given that, it’s a shame Horror Rises From the Tomb, rather than becoming a drive-in staple, only had a brief theatrical release in the US via the equally short-lived International Amusement Corp. before being heavily cut and exiled to late night TV before being resurrected on home video.

While it’s a bit slower in the beginning than I remembered, Horror Rises From the Tomb held up well and the dubbing wasn’t as bad as I feared. There are some clunky translations, especially of the curses and other occult elements, but I’ve heard worse dialogue in English language films. Overall, it’s a load of fun, whether you remember staying up to watch it on late night TV, rented it from the local video store or are just beginning to explore the history of European horror and exploitation films.

Horror Rises from the Tomb has been released several times on DVD and Blu-ray, I have it as part of The Paul Naschy Collection from Shout Factory. It’s also available to stream on Tubi and other services.

YouTube video
Where to watch Horror Rises from the Tomb
Our Score

1 thought on “Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973) Review”

  1. Some of the plot comes from the Universal-International movie The Thing That Wouldn’t Die (1958). A sorcerer is beheaded and his head and body are buried separately. He has no female companion unlike Naschy. A group of people dig him up centuries later and the head telepathically controls some of them.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top