Inquisition: Paul Naschy’s directorial debut is now on Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro
It’s not a stretch to cite the late Jacinto Molina — better known in our world as Paul Naschy — is one of the most important figures in the long, lurid history of Spanish horror. Sure, Spanish-born Jess Franco’s pioneering work is of note, but Franco made most of his movies abroad, outside of the harsh, stifling hold of dictator General Franco (no relation…at all!). Naschy, however — first as an actor and writer — is the one who lived and worked and mostly stayed in Spain and whose groundbreaking monster mash Werewolf Shadow (aka The Werewolf vs. The Vampire Woman) put stronger, sexier and commercially viable Spanish horror on the map. That film’s international success forever locked the barrel-chested Naschy’s identity as the melancholy wolfman Waldemar Daninsky, a role he first played in the film Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror and then would later reprise in myriad horror movies throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. But there was far more to Naschy than meets the fur and fang…
We previously raved about Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray release of one of Naschy’s most fascinating and beautiful Gothic horror movies, 1973’s Count Dracula’s Great Love and though Naschy both starred and wrote that delirious film, he didn’t make his directorial debut until 1976’s Inquisition, an intense and wild historical shocker that liberally cribs from both Ken Russell’s The Devils and Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General but injects itself with plenty of inimitable Mediterranean flavor and enough gorgeous naked female flesh for a dozen flicks. Now, Eurohorror heroes Mondo Macabro have released Inquisition in a snazzy Blu-ray edition, presenting the film in 1.85:1 high-def, making the previously sorta drab-looking torture drama pop off the screen with vibrant colors and razor-sharp detail. It’s a handsomely-produced movie and it’s exciting to finally see it in all its splendor.
The film casts the fearless Naschy in three rolls: as Death, The Devil and the main character, the bloodthirsty Inquisitor De Fossey, who, despite his penchant for witchhunting has a cuddly romantic streak, linking this character to Naschy’s soft-hearted vampire in Count Dracula’s Great Love. In it, De Fossey ends up in a plague-savaged hamlet in the 16th century, doing his job of ridding the world of witches with the help of sex-crazed dwarf Renover (Antonio Iranzo). In between bouts of potentially-unjustified torture and murder, De Fossey falls for the lovely Catherine (Daniela Giordano) and after the love-struck psycho kills her fiancée and burns a bevy of kindly local ladies, Catherine makes a deal with the Devil to get bloody revenge.
Inquisition is heavy on conversation and depending on which version you watch on the disc, that heaving-chested dialogue is either in the original Spanish language or the clunky and fun English dub. I prefer the dubbed for personal reasons this is always how I would watch Naschy films as a kid and there’s a comfort in hearing legendary actor Jack Taylor dub Naschy’s voice. In either version, you’ll see tons of beautiful women in various undressed states tortured by horrible people; but like all Spanish films of this period, romance and character and emotion overtake the ample scenes of shock. Giordano is a wonderful actress and graces Catherine both sensuality and intelligence and she’s matched by Naschy’s conflicted witchfinder and Iranzo’s lecherous henchman. There’s nothing original about the subject matter perhaps, but its the teller not the tale and here, Naschy proved himself a fine director (love the slow-mo scenes and the inappropriate fuzz guitar soundtrack too).
Extras on MM’s Blu-ray include another installment of the fabulous Eurotica series charting the Spanish horror boom, a vintage intro from the late Naschy and a charming intro from Giordano. There’s also a commentary from Naschychat’s Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn that I have yet to explore, but it’s a nice extra feature to have. If you’re a Naschy admirer, this is an essential release of an important — and beautifully made — picture in his enduring canon.