Crimson (1973)

Posted: February 19, 2021 in Uncategorized

Stephen D. Sullivan and I continued our Paul Naschy viewing this past week with Crimson, AKA The Man with the Severed Head. This is not one from the realm of Paul Naschy, Auteur. This was him collecting a pay-check as an actor, and clearly on-set only for a short time in this Franco-Spanish co-production (he’s in the movie really only at the beginning and the end.

When a jewel heist goes wrong and the head of the gang (Naschy) is shot in the head, his life is saved only by having part of the brain of a rival gang leader (“the Sadist”) transplanted into his. Because of course. Also because of course, he starts having spells and a rampage (briefly) ensues.

I first saw this 25 years ago, on a VHS I picked up for a couple of bucks at Value Village. I remembered almost nothing of the film, other than that I thought it was very silly, and that the surgery scene focussed a lot on a rotating light disc of no clear function. Well, my younger self was right. The film is silly, and that disco light gizmo is awesome in its nonsensicality.

Steve and I watched the longer cut of the film, which ramps up the sleaze quotient with what the box calls “sexually provocative content,” but is really just ludicrously badly staged nastiness, equally badly inserted. In other words, we would have been better off watching the insert-free US cut, which, among other things, would have flowed better, insofar as I can use the word “better” in any context that makes sense here.

Because let’s be clear — Crimson is trash. But outside of those inserts, it is also intriguing (and sometimes quite amusing) trash. The scene of two incompetent gangsters trying to figure out how to removed the head of a corpse and finally resorting to the expedient of laying the body on train tracks and hoping for the best is pretty great. Paul Naschy’s rampage get-up — gun, purple turtleneck, goofy head bandage and hypo sticking out his back — demands an action figure. And the shots of seedier side of 70s Paris are coated with an authentic layer of grime, giving you that grindhouse feel from the comfort of your own home.

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