The Film (2/5)
It's kind of odd for me to open with this, but after nearly a decade of running EuroCultAV.com, the Redemption Blu-ray of Paul Naschy's Crimson (aka the Man with the Severed Head) is the first review of a Paul Naschy film we have had on this site. It is slightly understandable as this site has been in existence primarily through the tail end of the DVD era, and throughout Blu-ray, long after the Naschy films had been released to DVD in Region 1. The only Blu-rays so far released of Paul Naschy films in Region 1 territory have been through Code Red Releasing, and unfortunately, we do not have the time to independently review their product.
So Redemption through their association with Kino Lorber have put out the 1973 Paul Naschy vehicle Crimson. The film blends elements of horror, gore, softcore sex, gangster films and science fiction to create something that is unique for Naschy, especially in this period. 1973 was early in Naschy's ascendancy to cult stardom, and he had just in the few years prior begun to star in his Waldemar Daninsky series of Werewolf films. The first of which Frankenstein's Bloody Terror came out in 1968, and he had recently worked on the iconic Werewolf Shadow prior to working on Crimson.
Crimson stars Naschy as Jack the leader of a gang who as the film opens is attempting to commit, a jewelry store robbery. They completely botch it, and during the ensuing chase Jack is shot in the end, but not fatally. He is taken back to a secluded hide out, where he is bandaged up, and brought to a famous surgeon where it is determined that to survive he will need a brain transplant (I love 70's Eurohorror logic). His gang decides the donor will be the leader of a rival gang, and go out of their way to assassinate him. They succeed, and so does the operation. The gangster’s brain they used was known as “The Sadist” due to his sadistic traits, and these are inherited by Jack, who becomes a complete raging psychopath.
The synopsis is more interesting than the film itself in either version. Crimson can definitely be put into the category of a lesser Naschy film. Naschy himself is of course in prime form, but the film is directionless and slow. I love film's that cross multiple genres to create things that are bizarre and unique using elements of the different genres in unfamiliar ways. Unfortunately for Crimson, it just seems like these cross-genre elements were used less as ways to expand on a narrative, and more of a way to fill holes in the plot.
The film is directed by Juan Fortuny (Orloff and the Invisible Man) who directs with a very workmanlike style, and keeps the film moving at an almost non-existent pace. Redemption have included 2 versions of the film an 89 minute English version and a 98 minute French/International version. The primary difference between the two versions is the inclusion of a number of softcore sex scenes that do nothing to advance the plot, and just end up adding to the film's glacial pacing. Also, it appears that Naschy himself does not appear in these as a double is used to display his character’s backside.
Redemption have provided a solid, but unremarkable transfer for their release of Crimson. The film is presented 1:66:1 in a 1080p transfer. The hallmark of most Kino and Redemption transfer is the naturalistic look they provide the film's and that is no different here. However, I'm not sure if the scan/master was primarily the product of rights holders Eurocine, because though there is much to recommend very solid detail, color reproduction, and decently solid blacks. I also noticed some issues with macroblocking, and compression artifacts, that show up from time to time. There is also occasional damage showing from the source material.
2 audio options are present Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks in English and French that are both quite serviceable with dialogue and score coming through nicely. I did notice a few minor instances of hissing and pops on the track.
The English version contains a commentary track by Richard Harland Smith. There is also a theatrical trailer.
Not a classic Naschy film by any means, Crimson is a semi-interesting cross genre affair that I would only recommend to Naschy completist. The Blu-ray looks quite decent, and has minor extras of note. Rent it if you can.