Monday, 11th December 2017. 1:59:41pm ET
Reviews Movie Reviews Horror Rises from the Grave
Movie: Horror Rises from the Grave
Company: Brentwood Home Video
Format: DVD (4 movies on 2 DVDs)
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 1/18/04

Horror Rises from the Grave is a peculiarly almost-zombie-free budget zombie movie set from Brentwood Home Video, a company that's rather notorious for similar cheap horror compilations. Containing 4 "zombie" films on 2 double-sided DVDs, just about everything about these films screams low budget from the mistakes in the film titles and synopses on the packaging to the mediocre video transfers and horrible sound transfers. The sound flaws range from slightly annoying background hiss in Horror Rises from the Tomb to almost unbearable background noise and extremely low sound levels in Zombie Hell House. Even the DVDs themselves have visible flaws that, thankfully, didn't effect playback (although the last Brentwood compilation I checked out did have one film that wouldn't play due to bubbles on the DVD surface). Yes, folks, this is cheap stuff. However, they do have menus (complete with chapter selections and even their own music), and the films and price might justify a purchase even with the set's lengthy list of flaws.

The first offering, which is called Horror from the Tomb in the film's opening credits or Horror Rises from the Tomb on the packaging, is a peculiar but entertaining (and unintentionally humorous) film complete with relatively poor dubbed voice acting. It also offers the only true zombies in the entire zombie movie set in the form of 4 zombies that are on screen for about 5 or 10 minutes. It's the story of a dismembered Satanist and his wife who come back to life for revenge around 400 years after their deaths and proceed to murder people by getting naked, removing the clothes of their victims, and going through a bit of foreplay before killing them (leading me to wonder if the film's original title wasn't "An Orgy Rises from the Tomb"). An old-school organ soundtrack accents the tale. Unfortunately, the composer seems to have gotten a guiro for his birthday, and the film's recurring theme is marred by a laughable percussive scraping noise. It's a somewhat atmospheric and entertaining film, but its gratuitous nudity, bad dubbing, sometimes humorous dialog, and occasionally odd subplots and ridiculous murder scenes ultimately add up to an amusing film to watch and laugh at with friends.

Next comes Zombie Flesh Eater (or Zombie Flesh Eaters if you believe the packaging instead of the film). Note that the synopsis of the film on the back of the case is so incorrect that it's pretty obvious the people designing the packaging had never seen the films. While the film does take place on a boat, it's certainly not a private pleasure cruise. Essentially, two models hired to drive a small boat as a publicity stunt get lost in an unexplained tropical fog and run into a mysterious galleon, disabling their boat. Boarding the galleon, they are attacked by skeletal beings (not technically zombies) from the depths of the ship. Their friends, including the insanely annoying roommate of one of the models, her modeling agent, and the two thug-like boat owners running the promotion that are oddly holding the model hostage to keep her from blabbing about the publicity stunt, go to investigate as more "horror" ensues. With a pretty good old-school horror soundtrack and some decent visuals (including a genuinely creepy old wood galleon set), this one has a decent sense of atmosphere. Unfortunately, its ridiculously bad overdubbing, voice acting, and dialog translation leave you with the impression that Godzilla could appear at any moment. Then there's the meteorologist (played by both the most Godzilla movie-esque actor and voice actor in the film) who happens to have extensive knowledge and a bunch of documents lying right on his desk regarding the mysterious barge as well as a background in exorcism. Throw in a bunch of scenes of slow moving, brittle looking skeletons in hoods chasing girls as they repeatedly back against wooden poles and beams, stay there and scream for a minute, and then back against the next pole, and you have the idea. Yes, this is pretty ridiculous stuff that the folks at Mystery Science Theater 3000 could have had a ball with. Horror fans may delight in the atmosphere, but this is another tale best enjoyed in a group setting with a running commentary of jokes.

Next up is a widescreen version of a film that's probably the highlight of the set, Zombie Hell House a.k.a. Lucio Fulci's House by the Cemetery. Somewhat peculiar with sometimes confusing intertwining plots in true Italian fashion, it's the story of a family that moves into an old house without knowledge of the horror that lurks in the basement waiting for them other than the warnings their son psychically receives from a mysterious girl. Once again, this lurking horror is not technically a zombie. Deaths and other mysterious events build to the film's somewhat perplexing but interesting climax. Certainly a stylish and original classic along the lines of other Italian horror films, this one alone might be worth the purchase of this set. Of course, its mediocre film transfer and almost unbearable sound transfer, including nearly inaudible sound levels and horrible background noise, might be enough to motivate fans of the film to pass this one up in favor of the more expensive but much higher quality reissue that's available.

Finally, we have Night of the Ghoul, a film that, as repeatedly stated on the DVD packaging, stars Peter Cushing and John Hurt. Two rich, spoiled, annoying couples decide to have an overnight race to reach a remote location after a party. One of them runs out of gas. While the guy goes off to find gas, the girl runs across a creepy gardener who attacks her. After escaping, she ends up in an old mansion inhabited by a fairly religious and slightly eccentric violin maker and his peculiar Indian maid who carries out odd rituals. Oh, and there's something in one of the rooms that may or may not be a zombie. Well, needless to say, they both mysteriously vanish, and the other racers come looking for them as the story slowly unfolds and the secret of the thing living in the mansion is revealed (albeit without any background details regarding why it exists or why it does what it does...or why anyone does what they do in the film, for that matter). With peculiar characters and a few weird and gruesome events, this is a flawed but fairly unique and entertaining horror film that's worth checking out for the price.

Overall, it's a cheap price for 4 entertaining movies, whether they're genuinely good (as in Zombie Hell House and Night of the Ghoul) or amusingly ridiculous (i.e. the other two films in the set). However, expect horrible sound quality, decent-but-occasionally-flawed picture quality, and other problems that may crop up (not the least being manufacturing flaws that may force you to return a copy or two before getting one that plays correctly). The old saying, "You get what you pay for," certainly applies here.


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