Empusa Jan 16, 2021 11:11:19 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jan 16, 2021 11:11:19 GMT -5
Directed by: Paul Naschy
Directed by: Paul Naschy
A pandemic, if you will.
NOTE: A special thanks to loyal friend/reader Dennis P., who kindly sent me this along with several other films to review.
Empusa marks the final project of Paul Naschy, who died in 2009. Released posthumously, Naschy — a Spanish cult horror filmmaker — produces, writes, and directs himself as the eccentric retiree Abel, equipped with a luscious flowing wig and an assortment of do-rags. Abel's best pal is Victor (Antonio Mayans), and the opening moments of the film find the two stumbling upon a severed hand of a young woman bearing an eclectic wrist tattoo that is washed up on the shore of a beach. Abel insists on keeping the hand, much to the chagrin of Victor, who wants to notify the authorities.
Abel discovers that the hand belonged to a victim of the Empusa, a group of female demons in Ancient Greek mythology that are essentially more vicious vampires. Victims of Empusa are turned into more conventional vampires — I think.
Abel's social life is an enviable one. Although not much of a sight himself, he still shacks up with alluring women such as Natalia (María Jesús Solina) and Christabel (Cristina Carrión), the latter of whom he finds enjoying a nude stroll in the ocean waves where he eventually disposes of the severed hand. His obsession with the Empusas only deepens and culminates in a violent encounter that dominates a great deal of the third act.
Naschy is your typical cult horror director insofar that he would rather compile all of his ideas into a project than dare let one slip by him. He infuses Greek mythology, folklore, and Grindhouse-level bloodlust into a project that functions better in its first half than its second. The first half plays like a strange but serviceable buddy-comedy between Abel and Victor, but their shenanigans are far too slight to be meaningfully articulated. The second half has Naschy succumb to a great deal of incoherence that may look lively thanks to the surplus of color and visual detail, yet doesn't amount to much satisfaction from a narrative standpoint.
Empusa is overstuffed and underwritten, made for a small group of people who enjoy unearthing "gems" as they call them. That term is a bit generous for Naschy's final project, which still doesn't ding his legacy of films that dared to be original if sometimes victims of their own bloated ideas. I must give credit to my longtime reader and dear friend Dennis for yet again committing to mail me a litany of random DVDs periodically. Much like Naschy, some of these works are peculiar, even lackluster, but seldom boring and, if nothing else, conscious-expanding in their willingness to venture so far outside the box that the aforementioned box is no longer in view.
Starring: Paul Naschy, Antonio Mayans, María Jesús Solina, and Cristina Carrión. Directed by: Paul Naschy.