HUMAN BEASTS can be viewed as an action/crime/heist film turned horror that features ghostly presences, nightmare sequences, man eating pigs, and family practiced cannibalism that fans of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE might dig. Scripted, directed, and co-produced by Paul Naschy who also stars as the protagonist, this film is definitely his baby and is still considered to be woefully overlooked despite a pristine DVD release in 2007 from Deimos Entertainment.
Naschy plays Bruno Rivera who after double crossing his lover during a diamond robbery heist and escaping redemption (for the time being), ultimately finds himself trapped in a HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN. Yes, just like the American title of Naschy’s Spanish giallo better known as BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL. But unlike that film, these women really are psychotic, which just leads to some really great stuff courtesy of Naschy’s brilliant and ever versatile mind.
The soundtrack to this film is very enjoyable and fits HUMAN BEASTS perfectly. There are 2 unforgettable and extremely bitchin theme songs worth mentioning here. My favorite of these 2 themes is from Ennio Morricone, and it’s a spine chilling but melodic choir chanting piece that supplements the beginning and ending credits of the film. The other is an unidentified action oriented piece with Morricone/Nicolai style female vocals that is well used during a chase scene between a bloodily wounded Bruno and his scorned and extremely pissed off (for good reason) ex-lover with a machine gun, Mieko (Eiko Nagashima).
After the chase, Bruno passes out in the middle of the scorching hot forest before waking up in a wonderful mansion, bandaged up and surrounded by a doctor, Don Simón (Lautaro Murúa), and his 2 lovely daughters, Mónica and Alicia (Silvia Aguilar and Azucena Hernández). What sort of Karma is this one may think? Why are some of the worst men always so fortunate? Well the universe seems to work in strange ways….
The mansion in the film has been featured in numerous other Spanish horror films, and I personally like to call it “The Spanish House of Usher”. There, while recovering and having nightmares that include his ex in total vindictive mode, without any effort at all, Bruno manages to enjoy the sexy delights of both of Don Simón’s beautiful daughters, who happen to prefer living all alone in this isolated and claustrophobic mansion.
Aside from all of the fun this film is, there’s a prevalent theme of misguided trust from beginning to end. This cynical portrayal of trusting the wrong people and concealed ill-intentions of so-called friends is a reflection of Naschy’s own outlook on life at the time of producing this film.
Those who’ve seen a good deal of Naschy’s films may notice that he’s crafted a familiar but altogether different type of character that really is an interesting progression to what fans are used to seeing. Bruno is bad, but not Alaric de Marnac bad (A nasty satanic warlock that Naschy played in HORROR RISES FROM THE TOMB and PANIC BEATS) and is sort of a gentleman with a polite and innocent side that makes it hard to believe that there is a violent and greedy human beast beneath the facade. Bruno also has this odd likability and ends up being the type one can’t help but still worry about even after knowing he is a double crossing killer. It’s not unusual for viewers to suddenly find themselves on the bad guy’s side all of a sudden. I mean who didn’t end up concerned for little Alex in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE?
The film does have its fair share of eerie moments with my favorite being the two close-up shots of actress Julia Saly’s beautifully creepy eye (which I’ve chosen to not give away with a screen grab, so just watch for it if you ever check this out). Saly plays the role of a hidden unknown character in the house whose significance to the story is revealed during the films climax. She’s played off as a possible ghost who silently watches Bruno, effectively adding an eerie feeling of being watched by a ghost while sleeping or making love.
An unexpected and entertaining costume dinner party adds an element of comedy, which ends up transcending weird and outlandish and may not be to everyone’s liking, but nonetheless it should be thought of as the film's way of lightening up a bit and taking a moment to throw all standards of convention out the window. Who needs normal? I’ll take crazy batshit insane over normal anyday, and I just can’t help admiring when Naschy seems to purposefully share his hilarious resemblance to Napoleon.
Like a lot of great horror films, HUMAN BEASTS also benefits from a bloody and entertainingly dramatic ending, guaranteed to raise viewers' pulses.