My notes on the very obscure Spanish comedy Horror Story (1972)
Francisco and Manuel Calatrava (Los Hermanos Calatrava) were a Spanish ripoff of Martin and Lewis – Frank could sing a bit, while Manny talks in a strangulated voice and gurns to camera. As movie stars, they’re handicapped by not being in the least amusing or appealing. This was their first film vehicle, and it’s a combination spy spoof and old dark castle comedy – though pitched on a level that makes Hillbillys in a Haunted House seem like James Whale. Quite a bit of schtick is lifted from Abbott and Costello – there are repeated instances of Manny seeing something scary and trying to get Frank to notice, only for the scary thing to have gone away when Frank takes a look … with repeated, extensive, agonising face-pulling and whining from Manny. Communist and American spies are competing to track down a secret formula devised by Baron von Kraus (Gustavo Re) and somehow lousy entertainers Frank and Manny wind up in the same sort-of haunted castle … Manny has a dream in which he’s attacked by vampires in broad daylight (a seductive woman leaves her false teeth in his neck) and wins a judo fight with a muscle man, and later explores the cellars where he finds a tomb marked ‘Dracula’, is stalked by another vampire (with big false fangs), clawed by some rubber gloves, frightened by a person dressed as a ghost in bedsheet and eyepatch and does many, many double takes. The leading ladies are Silvia Solar (The Werewolf and the Yeti) playing glamorous Soviet bloc spy Anuschka and Marta May as the secretary with glasses and a severe hairdo who turns out to be gorgeous – they were both about to appear in Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball. It has nice castle locations and a surprisingly excellent, eerie, guitar-based score by Josep Maria Bardagi. Directed by Manuel Esteba, who also co-wrote with Armando Matias Guiu.
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