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Case Number 17496: Small Claims Court

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The Hanging Woman

Troma // 1973 // 95 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 16th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is the Hanging Dude, as in he "hangs" wallpaper when his wife tells him to.

The Charge

For the squeamish, keep repeating it can't be true.

The Case

Note: The squeamish should have little to no problem with this one.

Troma's Retro brand is responsible for delivering Jose Luis Merino's "Final Cut" of The Hanging Woman, a 1973 Spanish horror flick that combines elements of crime-solving and zombie-stumbling into a Hammer-like misadventure.

The plot involves a guy named Serge Chekov (Stelvio Riso), a swinging chap with a killer '70s coiffure who shows up in Scotland to score an inheritance. He's in for a rude introduction to the lovely culture, when he accidentally stumbles upon the hung corpse of a woman. This is only the start of his troubles, though, as it's soon clear the family he's gotten involved with is bat-@#$% crazy. You've got a scientist messing around with re-animating the deceased, a wacko gravedigger named Igor (Paul Naschy), some Satan-worshippers, and a witch who likes to have intercourse on a turntable.

Obviously, there are some premium bizzaro moments to be found in The Hanging Woman, but this is very much reminiscent of a Hammer film—the time period, the setting, the methodical pacing, the emphasis on dialogue, a central mystery, a dude named Igor. If that's your bag, then there is plenty in Merino's film to keep you interested.

I got a kick out of it, though I hesitate in giving the film a full-throated endorsement. It does take its time building up to the zombie hijinks and decapitations, and the meandering nature of the narrative grows irksome. When the violence does make an appearance, the effects are…to be kind, a few degrees south of what you'd find at a middle school Halloween party.

Everyone involved gives it their all and fanboys of Naschy will enjoy his supporting role memorable in its goofiness. Riso is the top banana and he's put together quite the Alpha male, irresistible to women—to a point where it's a tad off-putting, when he has one young lady disrobe so he can preview what "he's purchasing"—a sucker punch master, and the only guy who seems slightly perturbed that there's a bloated corpse swinging from the tree.

Overall, a decent little import from the Troma crowd and one of the least sleazy, exploitation-heavy releases I've seen from the studio.

The technical treatment isn't much to get excited over, unfortunately. The full-frame transfer looks more like a high-quality VHS than a re-mastered DVD and the 2.0 stereo is horribly dubbed. Lot of extras, though: long interviews with Naschy, Merino, and Ben Tatar (a tech guy who handles a lot of the English translation in Spanish movies); a subtitle commentary from Merino; photos; and a bonus film, Sweet Sound of Death, a black and white feature about a guy who's wicked happy that his hot, formerly-dead girlfriend is back in the land of the living.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. (Too bad, I was dying to use "hung jury.")

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Troma
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Cult
• Foreign
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Interviews
• Photo Gallery
• Bonus Film








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