I remember stumbling upon this film a couple of years ago on a cheap looking DVD edition under the appealing title "The Man with the Severed Head", but without any type of additional info like cast members, year of release or plot synopsis. Since I couldn't trace the film around here on this website, or any other website for that matter, I didn't want to risk a blind purchase. Now I found this film with the exact same cover image, released under the acclaimed "Euroshock Collection" label and with the box proudly exclaiming Paul Naschy's name as the lead star, so this time there weren't any more excuses not to watch it! I consider myself to be a big fan of Paul Naschy, in spite of his gigantic ego and his often terribly inept and gratuitously sleazy Spanish film productions. In case you are just even slightly familiar with Naschy's usual repertoire, you will notice straight away that "Crimson" is an extremely atypical film for him. Naschy literally loves himself and he's always profiled as a powerful, strong and womanizing type of anti-hero. Here in this film "Naschy" hardly has anything to do or say, as his character lies half-dead in bed most of the time because most of his brains were blown out by the police during a failed jewelery theft. I honestly wonder why Naschy even accepted this type of inferior role in a movie he didn't even co-wrote or directed himself.
"Crimson" isn't necessarily a bad film, but horror and Euro-sleaze fans should definitely beware as there are hardly any gore elements and absolutely no nudity. Yeah, I have no idea what that's all about neither. This was mid 70's and European exploitation production, right? Instead of all this, writer/director Juan Fortuny attempts to come up with an ambitious and extremely convoluted mixture of heist movie, revenge thriller and mad scientist shlock. Following the heist gone wrong mentioned here above, Jack Surnett's gang members don't want their leader to die and force a drunken doctor to come up with a solution. He brings the whole posse to a secluded place in the countryside, where a brilliant scientist and his wife are on the verge of accomplishing a breakthrough in their brain transplant experiments. As the involuntary brain donor, the gangsters select Surnett's arch enemy a guy named "The Sadist" and acting like one too and hope that a happy ending will ensue. Needless to say the operation doesn't go as planned and Surnett doesn't wake up as the man he once was. "Crimson" is an odd and difficult to categorize exploitation effort. It's reasonably fast-paced and mildly compelling, but still there's a lot of redundant footage and unnecessary dull sub plots (like the love history between the scientist and his wife, the distrust and hostility between the gang members mutually, etc ). The absence of actual horror aspect and bloody killing sequences is a huge disappointment, especially since the DVD cover showcases some promisingly bloody tableaux. The delirious jazzy soundtrack is great and some of the supportive cast members deliver splendid performances, like The Sadist and the double-crossing dude with the sleazy mustache. Worth a look if you're into curious and offbeat European exploitation cinema, but nothing really special.
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