27th Apr2017

‘Crimson’ DVD Review (Black House)

by Mondo Squallido

Stars: Paul Naschy, Silvia Solar, Olivier Mathot, Evelyne Scott, Claude Boisson, Gilda Arancio | Written by Juan Fortuny, Marius Lesoeur, H.L. Rostaine | Directed by Juan Fortuny


Crimson, also known as The Man With The Severed Head (which was the title this film previously debuted under on Arrow’s Arrowdrome label), opens up with a nice gang of criminals taking part in the lovely of activity of robbing a jewelery store. However, it all goes pear shaped when due to well placed idiocy (oh the film world, we do love you) one of the criminals sets off an alarm while trying to steal a lovely pearl necklace. The gang tries to escape but disaster strikes when Paul Naschy’s character gets shot in the head. Realizing that they can’t exactly take him to a hospital they do the next best thing and seek help from a doctor friend of theirs who is somewhat indebted to them.

After some rather funny dialogue between henchman of the year and the rather sympathetic, pathetic drunk doctor we find out that Naschy’s injuries are much too severe for the doctor to preform any surgery himself without proper medical help from a hospital. After some brilliantly dubbed conversation (we’ll get to that later) the doctor suggests that the gang seek the help of his hilariously named friend Professor Teets who just so happens to be an expert on the human brain and again is just so conveniently in the middle of brain transplant experiments and research (again, got to love the film industry).
We are then introduced to Professor Teets (who by the way, is one of the coolest looking cats ever). The doctor (whose name I forgot to mention before is Dr. Ritter) tells his professor friend of his problem. We find out that Teets can’t use his hands and that his wife does all the practical work while he uses his genius and guides her through their experiments. Apparently, you also have to always wear black leather gloves if your hands don’t work… so now you know. After some gentle and then not so gentle persuasion from the doctor and head of the gang, the professor and his wife agree to help. However, they need a fresh corpse to dissect the brain from and funnily enough they know who exactly to use.

They decide they want to use the brain of a rival gang member by the name of “The Sadist”. We are then introduced to the lovely sounding character in a club while one of the weirdest and seemingly misplaced scenes I’ve seen for a while is played out. Basically, it’s a psychedelic stage show involving two cavemen and a woman which isn’t really odd. What’s odd is that during the scene the woman just disappears into thin air… not due to bad editing but apparently as part of the show… it’s hard to explain but worth witnessing. The next few scenes involves “The Sadist” doing his thing and being a typical gang member. Now, I won’t go into too much detail how they kill him because it plays out pretty well. He basically leaves the club, gets seduced by the token babe of the rival gang and then shot. Simple. However, the way they decapitate him… in fact no, it ruin it by telling you. All I will say is idiocy and trains equals a very creative and unintentionally funny decapitation.

So we get back to the main story and the operation is preformed in an actually, beautifully shot form. We don’t really see much but it’s still quite effective and one of the better parts of the film which is actually just a simply shot, point and shoot affair. After a while the rival gang gets wind that “The Sadist” is dead and go on the attack. Meanwhile there are complications with the operation. It seems that Paul Naschy has developed some of the impulses “The Sadist” would have and slowly breaks down into a psychotic mess.

Not much really happens after this. The gangs attack each other. People get killed one by one. The only real thing that happens is the somewhat carnal violence of Paul Naschy’s character and to tell you the truth, he is terribly unused and and the pay off is somewhat overwhelming to say the least. The film ends with pretty much everyone dying including Paul Naschy who gets shot the hell up by the police who are maybe just a little too late to the party. Overall, this film isn’t too bad but it’s not exactly great either. The main draw for the film is Paul Naschy and he only seems to have a tiny amount of things to do. The story is rather bland and nonsensical in places. There seems to be a theme of “well, we gotta resort to plan b” going on throughout.

The genius of Crimson for me was the absurdity and unintentional hilarity. This to me feels like a bad Jess Franco film… I mean the ones where they are just boring and not “so bad they’re good”. The ironic thing is the production collective behind this film involves Franco, go figure.

Crimson may be somewhat lacking but it’s still watchable. The best part of the film is the edition itself, which whilst seemingly not much of an improvement over the Arrowdrome release in terms of extras, actually has a welcome improvement in image quality – even though were still dealing with DVD and not Blu-ray (why no Blu Screenbound?).

Crimson is out now on DVD from Screenbound, via their Black House imprint.


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