The Bell from Hell (1973)

aka La campana del infierno
Article 3195 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-18-2010
Posting Date: 5-14-2010
Directed by Claudio Guerin and Juan Antonio Bardem
Featuring Renaud Verley, Viveca Lindfors, Alfred Mayo
Country: Spain / France
What it is: Bizarre Eurohorror

After his release from a mental institution, a young man seeks revenge on his aunt and her daughters, who were responsible for his being committed so they could get his inheritance. What follows is a battle of wits between several parties.

I’m not sure what to make of this surreal, often confusing, perverse and sometimes nasty horror movie. The disjointed narrative is probably the main culprit; our introduction to the various characters is done through a bewildering series of seemingly disconnected incidents, and often certain story threads get lost in the shuffle. Part of the problem may be that the American version is shorter than the Spanish version by thirteen minutes. Nevertheless, there’s an undeniable power to this movie, and it can creep you out; when the young man takes a job at a slaughterhouse, then leaves after a few days with the comment that he’s “learned enough”, you’re definitely prepared for the worst. The most unsettling thing about this production, though, is something that happened behind the scenes; on the last day of shooting, director Claudio Guerin either fell or jumped to his death from the bell tower used in the film. One can’t help but wonder what other movies of his might have followed in the wake of this one. I somehow suspect that this is one of those movies I won’t shake off easily.


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