|Index||5 reviews in total|
This film somewhat resembles the much more famous Spanish film "La
Residencia" made several years earlier. Like that film it is set in the
19th century Victorian Era, but at a very strict British orphanage as
opposed to a very strict French finishing school. It has a similar plot
with various nubile female students of the school mysteriously
disappearing. But in this case they're being lobotomized by a badly
burned mad scientist and turned into zombie sex slaves (or something).
But while "La Residencia" was quite racy for its late sixties era with
shower scenes and everything (OK, so all the girls wore gowns in the
shower, but still...), this movie made five years or so later seems
very tame for mid-70's Europe. I suspect it might have been one of the
last films made under the repressive Franco regime (a year or two later
Spanish movies like "The Adolescents" and "Satan's Blood" would become
at least as racy as anything else in Europe and that time). Still, the
old-fashioned flavor doesn't hurt the film that much. It's not really
graphic, especially as far as sex or nudity go, but it is enjoyably
The cast consists mostly of unknowns. One of the leads, Victoria Vera, would appear in "The Adolescents" the next year with Cristina Galbo (from "La Residencia") and Koo Stark. The most interesting actress perhaps though is the principal lead, Sandra Mazurowsky. Mazurowsky had a memorable cameo in "Blue Eyes of a Broken Doll" and also appeared a couple of other Paul Naschy flicks. She played a potential virgin sacrifice in Amando Ossorio's last "blind dead" film "Night of the Seagulls". The virgin role became a familiar one for her--even in sleazy movies like "Hell Train" she fills out her outfits very nicely, but never really takes them off. This stunning dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty had the same kind of "girl-next-door" appeal as Cristina Galbo or Koo Stark, and I'm sad to learn (if the IMDb info. can be trusted) that she ended up committing suicide a few years after this film.
This movie isn't in the same class as "La Residencia", of course. But as far as Spanish horror of the 1970's goes it's certainly above average.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Set in Victorian era London, this macabre little tale presents the
girls of a corrupt orphanage being sold by the sadistic matrons to a
badly disfigured doctor. His sinister motive is to use the girls as
guinea pigs in his experimental brain surgeries.
School Of Death is not an especially good film, but it tries for atmosphere with some success, and certainly doesn't deserve the complete oblivion it has been banished to. Looking like the British Hammer releases of the 50s/early 60s, it's hard to believe that a horror film this tame came out of Europe during the mid 1970s. This ultimately comes unrecommended, but you could certainly do a lot worse...while the dearth of gore and nudity will be met with dissatisfaction by some, the creeping Gothic atmosphere delivers quite nicely, and generally compensates for those deficiencies.
School of death or El Colegio De La Muerte is set in London , 1899 , it
deals with a boarding house called ¨Saint Elizabeth Refuge¨(managed by
Norma Kastel) of abandoned girls (Sandra Mozarowski , Victoria Vera) .
The girls are tyrannically governed under three rules : Silence ,
discipline and obedience . But some of them are being kidnapped and
lobotomized by a disfigured mad scientist and turned into zombie slaves
. At the refuge arrives a doctor (Dean Selmier who provides the most
exciting scenes when he's buried alive) to heal the orphans . Meanwhile
, two Police Inspectors (Estanis Gonzalez , Angel Menendez) are
investigating the strange deeds and murders .
This frightening movie is plenty of thrills , high body-count , plot twists and glimmer color in lurid images with acceptable results . Intrigue , tension , suspense appear threatening and lurking in every room , corridors and creepy interior and exterior . Interesting and suspenseful screenplay by the same director , Pedro Ramirez , the producer Alfonso Balcazar and the prolific Italian writer Sandro Continenza . Adequate make-up on a badly burned mad doctor who provides the screams , twists and turns . Functional , appropriate sets , being well filmed in the medieval city of Toledo and in Hammer style , full of foggy streets and bright night scenes. Colorful cinematography in Maria Bava wake realized by Antonio Ballesteros Jr , son of other magnificent cameraman , Antonio L. Ballesteros Sr . The motion picture was professionally directed by Pedro L. Ramirez , including a startling visual content and adequate narration , though being sometimes slow-moving. Ramirez was an expert on comedy , filming vehicles for the Spanish comic named Jose Luis Ozores such as ¨ El Gafe¨, ¨El Tigre Chamberi¨, ¨Los Ladrones Somos Gente Honrada¨, ¨Recluta con Niño¨ and directed two Chorizo Western for Alfonso Balcazar (who was screenwriter and producer of ¨School of dead¨) such as "Watch Out Gringo! Sabata Will Return" and "None of the Three Were Called Trinity" starred by Tito Garcia and Chris Huerta , both of them playing secondary roles in ¨School of death¨ . Rating : 5,5/10 . Acceptable and passable .
"El Colegio de la Muerte" aka "School of Death" is an obscure horror/mystery obviously influenced by Serrador's masterful "La Residencia" aka "The House that Screamed".A beautiful orphans in boarding school Saint Elizabeth Refuge are captured by badly disfigured doctor and then lobotomized and turned into his slaves.The film is slow-moving and too tame-in fact "La Residencia" is much better and more gruesome film.There is very little blood in "School of Death" and absolutely no nudity.The action often drags,but the twists are genuinely surprising and the fog-shrouded mood is nice.Unfortunately the lead actress Sandra Mozarowsky of "Night of the Seagulls" fame committed suicide two years after "School of Death" was made.6 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Searching round for 2 Spanish Horror titles that I could view for
IMDb's Horror board October Challenge,I was pleased to stumble upon a
wonderful sounding Spanish Gothic Horror,which led to me soon getting
ready to pay a visit to the school of death.
Finding herself stuck at St. Elizabeth's boarding School for Girls, Sylvia Smith rushes to the window,when she hears music being played outside.Furious over Sylvia breaking her rules, headmistress Miss Collins pulls Smith away from the window and sends her to "the punishment room."Being locked in the punishment room,Smith is unable to say goodbye to her friend Leonore Johnson,who Collins declares is now fully trained for employment.
Heading in a carriage to her new job as a prostitute to one of London's elites,Johnson discovers that Collins has lied about all the girls being trained for the oldest job in the world,when she is grabbed by a professor called Dr. Kruger,who quickly begins getting ready to experiment on Johnson.Finally getting out of the punishment room,Smith asks Collins for details about where her pal has gone to,and is told to just forget that she ever existed,Fearful that something bad may have happened to Johnson,Smith begins to investigate the inner workings of the school.
View on the film:
Soaking up every drop of Gothic Horror atmosphere,co-writer/(along with Alfonso Balcázar, Sandro Continenza, Manuel Sebares and Ricardo Vázquez) director Pedro Luis Ramírez (who sadly never directed again) covers the outdoor scenes in a thick blue smoke tint which covers all of the decayed streets haunted by Dr.Kruger .(I wonder if he has a brother called Fredy?!)Whilst the films make-up effects reveal its low budget, Ramírez pushes the titles cash issues to the side by displaying a superb stylised eye,as Ramírez goes from having Smith run down ever-increasing tight corridors,to covering Kruger's experiments with bursts of blood across the screen.
Made in the final year of General Franco's reign,the film features a sly satirical streak,as Smith discovers that every "respectable" authority figure she meets (from teachers to police) are deeply corrupt,and desperate to keep the girls and Kruger buried under ground.Along with the satirical edge,the writers jump around genres with an infectious energy,as the film flips from being a mad scientist with Women In Prison vibes, (which include hints of lesbianism-something which illegal in Spain at the time)to a warped doomed Gothic Romance story.
Finding herself coming face to face with the cackling Kruger,the very pretty Sandra Mozarowsky (who tragically died age 18 when she fell from a fourth-floor balcony at her apartment in Madrid , with Mozarowsky spending 20 days in a coma before dying, one month before her 19th birthday) gives an excellent wide-eyed performance as Johnson,with Mozarowsky showing hope draining from her eyes,as Krug starts his experiment's on her.Desperate to track down Smith,the beautiful Victoria Vera gives a passionate performance as Smith,with Vera giving Smith hard shots of wild energy,as she begins to uncover the secrets behind the school of death.
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