Orgy of the Living Dead (La Orgia de los muertos / L'Orgia dei morte / The Hanging Woman / Return of the Zombies / Beyond the Living
Dead / Orgy of the Dead / Dracula the Terror of the Living Dead, 1973)

US Full Moon Features 2020 Blu-ray edition

Text below written 2021-01-07

Another Iberian gem from the Golden era of Spanish filmmaking, the 1970's, a Gothic murder mystery with some living dead horror added to the mix.
Shot in some old Spanish mountain village (some say western Cataluña, in the Pyrenees) by cinematographer Modesto Razzolo it has tons of atmo-
sphere, two gorgeous actresses in Maria Pia Conte and Dyanik Zurakowska, an interestingly odd story and Paul Naschy as a necrophiliac gravedigger.
That's what's good in the film OK, but it's low budget and with some bad acting and with somewhat incompetent direction from Merino. A Spanish
trash film director with many paella westerns, adventure and war movies under his belt, and perhaps best known for his co-direction (with Eugenio
Martin) of the 1968 Paella western "Requiem for a Gringo" (read more about this film on my Cult & Classics Page 2), or for this strange horror.

So .... bad acting and bad direction, and an unlikeable smug "hero" in Stelvio Rosi are the minuses, but the pluses wins, with:

1. Gorgeous Maria Pia Conte, the red-headed Italian actress and ditto lovely blonde Dyanik Zurakowska (born 1947 in Belgian Congo) who acted in i.a.
Paul Naschy's first Werewolf movie, the 1968 "La marca del hombre Lobo" and the awful Spanish 1973 giallo "Sexy Cat" (maybe the only 1970's
Spanish genre film that i haven't liked). 2. The very atmospherical Cinematography from a wintry and windy mountain village with it's cemetery and
underground crypts, 3. the unusual story with by electricity re-animated living dead slowly moving around with unseing eyes and decomposing
bodies, and with great looking make-up effects as the corpses really looks nasty, 4. Paul Naschy in a small but great part as the demented henchman.

The film supposedly takes place somewhere in Eastern Europe, maybe in the Carpathian mountains as the names sound Slavic and the text seen on
the coffins in the crypt are in some ditto Slavic Balkan language, and the time should be .... maybe 1912 as that could be seen on the Counts coffin.
There's also some talk about a telephone call, so the early 20th century it is.

The 2009 US Troma Retro DVD

In the intro of the film we see the Count Mihaly being buried in the family crypt, and how a red-headed woman, Mary Mihaly (Aurora de Alba)
gets the key to the tomb by the gravedigger Igor (Paul Naschy) and enters it looking for a document on her father's body.
A man, Serge Chechov (Stelvio Rosi under alias Stan Cooper) arrives to the mountain village of Sköpje to take part in the execution of the will
after his Uncle, the Count Mihaly. On his way passing the cemetery he bumps into a dead hanging woman, it's his cousin Mary the main in-
heritor of the Count's estate. In the Mihaly mansion lives the beautiful widow Nadia Mihaly (Maria Pia Conte), the Count's business partner
Professor Leon (Gerard Tichy) and his daughter Doris (Dyanik Zurakowska) and the servant Ivan (Charles Quiney).

Smug and pompuos Serge is now the main inheritor and suspected by the local policeman (Pasquale Basile). Nadia is worried over getting nothing
and she's also horny and dabbling with black magic. The Professor has a laboratory where he experiments in re-animating dead animals with
electricity and he's worried over losing the lab if Serge sells the house. Igor worries over being caught by the police after having been exposed
of taking pictures of female corpses, stealing their underwear and caressing the decomposing bodies. Who's the killer ?

The Bluray presents the re-mastered film in 2.35:1 widescreen with an english dub mono audio, region All.
Extra: Alternate "Return of the Zombies" Wizard Video release, a trailer for The Hanging Woman and some Euro Exploitation Trash trailers.
(Not much of extras and i couldn't see any differences between the versions besides the fine crisp clear picture of the bluray)


The Troma 2009 DVD looked awful but had some great extras

Troma released this obscure Spanish horror on a lowpriced DVD in 2009 as "The Hanging Woman" in widescreen and with the english dub.
It had some great extras as a commentary audio with director José Luis Merino and a Diego López (in spanish with english subtitles), and with
an interview with Jacinto Molina (14 minutes, in spanish with english subtitles) where he talks about his much beloved horror film genre and
about how happy he is that these films have been saved to the medium of DVD (and bluray). He was heavily marked by his cancer and he died
in December of 2009, and this interview could be one of the last interviews he gave.

Also, an interview with direcror J.L. Merino (21 minutes, in spanish with english subtitles), an interview with american Ben Tatar (12 minutes)
who tells us about his career in Spanish film dubbing between 1967 and 1977, the Golden Era of Spanish horror and gialli, a Paul Naschy
featurette by a Shane Dallman about his film career, an original theatrical trailer and a gallery of vintage lobby cards


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