La Campana del infierno (A Bell from Hell / The Bells / la Cloche de l'enfer, 1973)

Spanish DVD edition

Text below written 2019-11-23


An unusual somewhat arty and ambitious Spanish psycho horror from the Golden era of Spanish film, the 1970's (which also was the Golden Era for the
Italian film naturally) and famous for the tragical death of it's young director Claudio Guerín Hill who during the ending of the shoot fell to his death from
a bell tower seen in the film, either by accident or by suicide. Certainly a loss to the Spanish film because the director manages to infuse this psycho tale
of revenge with a sense of dread as it's impressively depressing and dark.

Spanish DVD US DVD

Not as gory as it looks though from the Spanish DVD sleeve, more of a psychological thriller and art horror

This is a film about John (Reynaud Verley) who has been locked into a mental hospital / psychiatric clinique for 3 years, something his relatives, his
wheelchair bound aunt Marta (Viveca Lindfors) and her 3 daughters, his cousins Theresa (Nuria Gimeno), Maria (Christine Betzner) and Esther
(Maribel Martin) has caused, he thinks. He's out on probation and has to report back to the institute every 8th day.
John's dead mother was very rich and he inherited all the money and now he thinks his relatives are plotting against him to get the money ... and the
mansion. John is back and restores his mother's empty house and starts working in a slaughterhouse where he learns everything "he needs to know"

Marta and John

John lives alone in his mansion, an esoteric life surrounded with his exotic animals and sculptures, and he contacts his "beloved" relatives, his guardian
Marta and the 3 young women. All, with which he has had love affairs with earlier and he invites them to his house for a "friendly" reunion.
However, he thinks (or knows?) that Marta, the executor of his mother's fortune, wants him declared insane and put back in a cell at the mental Clinic so
that the money and the mansion will be all hers. That's why John also has prepared the house with some surprise gadgets for his visitors.

Maribel Martin as Esther (Spanish Golden Era genre actress known for i.a. The Bloodspattered Bride)

Is it true, does his mother and cousins want him locked away and declared insane to obtain his money, or is it only his crazy thoughts ?
John has suffered a lot but his actions makes him unlikeable, and no one's likeable in this film really, with the possible exception of young
Esther. This psycholical horror drama about revenge and greed is quite dark and depressive and impressive like that.
Poor John had better stayed in his cell at the asylym, peacefully making his masks and talking to friendly doctors than return to a society seemingly
drenched in Evil, where middle-aged men, pillars of the society, are allowed to assault a young girl, the daughter of the village begger/farmer.

As the director died another director finished this film and shot the last 7 minutes, and the ending does seem to differ a bit in style from the preceding
film with it's almost claustrophobical gloom, but it works fine. This film is said to display social critique against the fascistic Spain under Franco rule.
BEWARE - WARNING for the very nasty scenes of animal slaughter.

This Spanish DVD presents the film in an anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1 with an english or spanish (no subs to the latter) audio DD 2.0. Region free

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The Old US DVD from Pathfinder (pic sleeve above) in anamorphic widescreen, english mono or spanish audio with no subs, with extras a commentary
and essay from Chris D., a picture gallery and alternative Spanish scenes