The Hunchback of the Morgue (1973)

THE HUNCHBACK OF THE MORGUE (1973)
aka El Jorobado de la Morgue
Article 2352 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-3-2007
Posting Date: 1-20-2008
Directed by Javier Aguirre
Featuring Paul Naschy, Rosanna Yanni, Victor Barrera

A hunchback who supplies cadavers for doctors finds himself grief-stricken at the death of a woman who was his only friend when he was young. He puts her body in hiding and approaches a doctor whom he thinks will bring her back to life. The doctor agrees, but he has plans of his own…

I’m really beginning to see the appeal of some of these Paul Naschy movies. He obviously has a real affection for the characters he plays, and he builds the scripts around making the character both the monster and the hero. As a result, the plots go through some fascinating mutations to bring about this theme. The plots are often unpredictable; once you reach a point where you think you have an idea of how the rest of the movie is going to go, he throws in new characters and new plot developments to push the movie in a different direction, and the only thing you know for sure is, at the end of the movie, the monster Naschy has been playing will turn out to be the hero, though one who, of course, must die. It does make the movies interesting, though it can often dissolve into mere silliness. I quite like this one myself; it manages to stop short of the silliness, and it gets Naschy away from the overfamiliar combination of vampires and werewolves. Which is not to say it doesn’t have problems; the dubbing is quite bad, and there are some real logic flaws. One of the latter is that so many characters make comments about the hunchback’s ugly face that it’s surprising that Naschy uses very little face makeup, and though he’s not the most handsome man in the world, he isn’t ugly. I suspect that he doesn’t use ugly makeup because that would put the kibbosh on his love scene with Rosanna Yanni; it’s a case of Naschy trying to have it both ways. Another problem is that it’s really hard to believe at any point in the proceedings that the hunchback “wouldn’t hurt a fly”, as one character claims, but there seem to be quite a few characters here who consider him harmless. Nevertheless, these are minor quibbles, and this is one of Naschy’s most entertaining movies.

 

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