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Mondo Macabro presents
Panic Beats (Latidos de panico) (1982)

"They say he's due to return soon. I suppose you'd be his first victim."
- Julie (Paquita Ondiviela)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 11, 2005

Stars: Paul Naschy, Julia Saly, Lola Gaos, Silvia Miro, Paquita Ondiviela
Other Stars: Manuel Zarzo, Jose Vivo
Director: Paul Naschy

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, gore, nudity, sexuality, disturbing images)
Run Time: 01h:32m:05s
Release Date: April 26, 2005
UPC: 843276011598
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Spanish horror star Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina) is best known for his score of pictures, in which he appeared as werewolf Waldemar Daninsky. But he has also made numerous other pictures in various genres. This disc from Mondo Macabro presents one of his intriguing tales of retribution after the end of the 1970s Spanish horror boom, a sequel of sorts to the heavily-bootlegged Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973), and loosely based on a story by Becquer.

Paul Marnac (Naschy) is another descendant of the monstrous Alaric de Marnac (Naschy also), a 16th century chevalier guilty of the murder of his wife and various other crimes. Paul's wealthy wife Genevieve (Julia Saly) suffers from a weak heart, and Paul decides it would be best for them to go to the family country home. The old maid Maville (Lola Gaos) of the estate likes to relate the horrific tales of old Alaric, while her pretty young niece Julie (Paquila Ondiviela) seems to have designs on Paul herself. Soon Genevieve begins to have terrifying visions of Alaric de Marnac. Is someone trying to Gaslight her, or is Alaric indeed back from the dead?

This picture has a definite nasty edge to it, starting with the prologue featuring a bestial Alaric chasing down a nude woman and pummeling her savagely with a morningstar; it's an amorality that sets the stage well for the events in the modern era. And there is amorality aplenty, with schemes hidden behind schemes. Whereas Naschy's character Hugo in Horror Rises from the Tomb was somewhat heroic, Paul has little of the hero about him here, cheating on his wife with not one but two different women, cheating at business, lying and being abusive. Meanwhile, he's being pressed by both Julie and his mistress Mirielle (Silvia Miro) to run off with them with his wife's money. There's voyeurism and twisted sexuality throughout the picture, as well as an abundance of gore and sadism, free of the Franco censorship restraints.

The cast generally is decent enough for the kind of film it is. Naschy does a fine job with the more subtle evil of Paul Marnac as well as the over-the-top glee of Alaric, letting blood with a twinkle in his eye. Saly is a good screamer, but otherwise is just called upon to look sickly. Gaos, a prominent leftist under Franco's regime, is quite good as the maid who takes amusement from her terrifying tales of ghosts and monsters, while Ondiviela is equally memorable as the conniving niece. She credibly comes across as an utter sociopath, remorselessly lying and murdering as seems convenient, while projecting an air of kittenish vulnerability.

Much of the atmosphere comes from the feeling of entrapment. The home is isolated in the country, and during much of that time it's surrounded by fog, as if it were an island alone in the middle of nowhere. Adrift without the outside world, the morality breaks down even more readily, with botht he means and opportunity for mischief at hand. It's actually quite jarring in the scenes where it cuts to Mirielle in Paris, since the viewer becomes immersed in this hidden world of secrets and plotting. And if that's not enough for you, there's always the sex and gore.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.78:1 framing seems adequate, though a 1.66:1 ratio seems more likely. The picture is slightly soft but gernally attractive, with good color and definition. The shadow detail is fine. Although the picture is slightly grainy, it's well transferred and not sparkly.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishno

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 stereo is presented at very high loudness levels. The stereo separation is pretty good, although the foley effects seem a little obtrusive in the mix. Thunderclaps are missing deep bass impact. There are a couple brief warbly moments, but on the whole the audio is very clean and there's no significant hiss or noise.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
2 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Still gallery
Extras Review: Two documentaries provides support both directly and indirectly for the main feature. The more tangential is a generic history of Spanish horror films, touching on Franco, Jorge Grau and de Ossorio as well as Naschy. In its 19m:28s running time it can't hope to be more than a brief overview, but it's a good introduction to the field for the novice (though it's a bit hampered due to clip rights issues).

More substantial is a 28m:36s one-on-one with Naschy, discussing his entire career, influences and his use of horror as a means for social comment. There's also a segment devoted directly to Panic Beats, disclosing among other tidbits that it was shot in Franco's own home. Finally, there's a gallery of 31 production stills plus three shots from the premiere.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

A lurid and nasty horror that features few innocents and plenty of sex and gore. The transfer is fine although a little soft, and there are several highly worthwhile documentaries.


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