El Jorobado de la Morgue (Hunchback of the Morgue) (Javier Aguirre, 1973)

posted in: Duane, Review | 0
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When a beautiful girl in a small (German?) township dies,  Gotho, the hunchback (Paul Naschy) who is in love with her cannot accept her death and removes her body from the morgue where he works. Escaping to his pimp-tight underground lair (what hunchback doesn’t have one of these?)  he enlists the aid of a local doctor whom he has been working for to bring her back to life. The doctor soon puts Gotho to work acquiring body parts for his experiment in creating a monster.vlcsnap-00007
Wow. So uhh Naschy plays a retarded hunchback that’s creepily jonesing for this hot chippy then shit gets real ugly. I think it’s pretty fair to say that this is one of his stronger efforts, if not one of the best. The only thing I can honestly fault it for is shying away from showing much nudity –  there’s a tiny bit of boobage from the kind of ok looking Elke – played by Rosanna Yanni (Two Undercover Angels, Count Dracula’s Great Love) – and some pretty severe (but not overly gory per se) animal bullshit. I’ll get to that later. There’s plenty of opportunity for nudity here too… the ladies in the film range from “not bad” to fucking hot, and activities include laying on morgue gurneys, a shower scene…. I really have no idea how they managed to miss the chance to add some sleaze. Ok fine so the director wasn’t into nude chicks. Whatever. *sulk*. Incidentally there is also an alternate clothed version of the one scene involving a tit in the movie. Fortunately the Mya DVD uses the topless one. The alternate version is available as an extra on the disc.vlcsnap-00005
WTF was I talking about? Oh yeah… Hunchback of the Morgue. Right! The animal bullshit! Ok so I have to go on record here as saying I don’t condone killing animals for the sake of a movie nor do I enjoy watching it. It’s one of the reasons my eyes consistently roll into the back of my head (look at all the cobwebs!) whenever someone talks about how “extreme” Cannibal Holocaust was, ad nauseam. If I wanted to see some fucking monkey man hacking up a mongoose or whatever I’d watch National Geographic Presents. Stab some bitch in the face for real and I’m all over it. Anyway, the scene in question involves our fearless Hunchback coming back from an excursion to discover the body of his beloved Ilsa (the very fetching María Elena Arpón from Tombs of the Blind Dead) whom he had stored foolishly in a rat infested section of his awesome lair being partially consumed by the vermin. Now I have no idea WTF rats in Spain or Argentina or wherever this is shot were like in 1973, but these fuckers literally FLY at poor Gotho as he attempts to remove them from her body with a torch. Be forewarned… we are then treated to immolated rats scuttling about and rats being thrown INTO the fire. This goes on for a few minutes interspersed with the scene of Gotho fighting off the magical flying horde as they cling to him for (literally) dear life. I’m not trying to dissuade anyone, because this really is a fun movie… just be aware of that content going in if you’re sensitive to it.

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The effects here are quite good for a film of this region/era and the graphic violence is reasonably plentiful without treading into “gore film” territory. Gotho chops, hacks, smothers, and bludgeons his victims with reckless abandon and the film certainly doesn’t shy away from any of that (unlike the nudity… yes I’m still choked about that). The settings are very nice as well as they seem to have taken advantage of the plethora of interesting and often gloomy locales. In the scene where a group of local children are teasing and throwing rocks at Gotho, I was hoping he’d kill, pull apart and partially consume one or two of them… sadly he takes it like a little deformed bitch. Nobody’s perfect. Much of the film involves Gotho lurking around and procuring body parts (and later live people) for the Doctor’s hideous petri dish monster, Gotho being teased/beaten/ostracized by the community (that incidentally seems to be made up almost entirely of ignorant assholes), and scared women wandering around the catacombs in Gotho’s pimp lair. This all of course culminates in a predictable change of heart and subsequent boss battle in the lab where the mysterious monster creation is finally revealed. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like the last 10 minutes of this film.
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Inconsistencies and plot holes are prevalent (wtf is with that grizzled almost zombie-like guy wandering around with another one on his back?) but for a film of this caliber it’s a non issue. Performances are solid by all involved, most of them being genre veterans of course. The pacing is solid, no scenes of pointless dialogue or tedium whatsoever… this film just plods along from start to finish making it real easy to kill an hour and a half.
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Even as a hunchback, Naschy gets all the chicks.
I feel compelled to mention that Mya has once again churned out a half-assed release replete with shitty, blurry picture and absolutely horrendous subtitles including nonsensical phrases and an abundance of spelling and grammar errors. The audio is less than spectacular as well. I’m usually loathe to mention media when doing a review but Mya has quickly become a point of contention that warrants discussion.vlcsnap-00019
If you enjoy Naschy (and who in their right mind doesn’t?) and you want to see him in a non-werewolf role this is a great place to start. Hunchback of the Morgue is a blast and I can’t recommend it enough. Genre fans and the newly initiated will find plenty to enjoy here.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating: NS-4_half
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.

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