Paul Naschy is effectively the Spanish version of Paul Kersey in Night of the Executioner, a revenge flick starring the writer/director as a wealthy man targeted by criminals who rape and murder his wife and daughter. This is basically the plot of Death Wish, which at the time of Night of the Executioner‘s release in 1992 would have been nearly 20 years old; however, Naschy’s focus on Spanish vigilantism isn’t as clean-cut as the NYC crime featured in Michael Winner’s movie, instead opting to showcase corruption in government after the end of Franco’s dictatorship.
The film follows much of the same beats as Death Wish, but Naschy’s direction is much more exploitative. Here we see graphic depictions of rape and murder; the opening sets up a lighthearted affair between Naschy’s character Dr. Arranz and his family celebrating his 50th birthday only to devolve into a brutal display of torture and sadism at the hands of some punks who are, throughout the film, tenuously connected to a much larger crime ring. Night of the Executioner doesn’t have the deftness or the budget of Death Wish, but it does excel at the shock value, and Naschy goes all-in on the most gratuitous elements.
This often comes at the expense of storyline, though, because the film occasionally drags in its attempts to have a conversation about the need for vigilantism versus the ability of the police and government to clean up crime. Besides a few dialogue lines bandied back and forth between the police inspector and some criminal justice workers (one of whom is subsequently raped and flip-flops her stance on violent crackdowns because she’s experienced the violence herself), Naschy’s writing suffers both from being too outspoken and also too underutilized, with the message becoming far too muddled to glean much from it.
But then again, most are probably not watching Night of the Executioner for its subtle take on vigilante justice. Instead, we’re wanting to see Naschy deliver the brutality bedecked in his trenchcoat and fedora, and we get that in spades – including a Rocky-esque workout montage! It’s clear from all of the posters adorning the walls and various mentions of action heroes that Naschy is partially influenced by American action cinema, and Night of the Executioner delivers a healthy dose of revenge that should interest fans of those films as well. While it’s messy and occasionally aimless, the film is worth the price of admission to see Naschy have his tongue cut out in exquisite detail.
Full uncompressed screenshots from this Blu-ray.
Mondo Macabro has released Night of the Executioner for the first time on Blu-ray with a new 4K restoration from the original camera negative in 1.36:1 aspect ratio (the box lists 1.33:1, IMDb lists 1.37:1 as OAR). The film has a fairly high level of grain that is noticeably thick at times, but overall detail is very good and color grading is mostly consistent. There are a couple of sequences that almost look like inserts since color and grain scale are different from the preceding frames; occasional damage and lines are present as well. Otherwise, though, this is a good representation of the film with most likely the best possible results.
Audio is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono Spanish track, and this sounds consistently strong; dialogue is strong, the music score is robust, and overall there are no noticeable issues with the sound. English subtitles are included and standardly enabled.
Extras include a new interview with Naschy’s son Sergio Molina, running around 36 minutes in total. Here he talks about Naschy’s career at the time and his work on this film, including the necessity of its small budget and the context behind its filming; it’s an enlightening watch about the movie. Another new interview with Pepe Ruiz, who plays the gay photographer in a small role, runs about 20 minutes; he discusses his work in cinema, particularly with Naschy on various sets including Human Beasts or The Beasts’ Carnival, and digs into Night of the Executioner for a couple of minutes. Finally, a new interview with Manolo Zarzo, running about 24 minutes, covers his work from theater to cinema, not focusing too heavily on the movie at hand but his overall theatrical career. A new audio commentary from The Naschycast (Troy Guinn and Rod Barnett) offers up a number of great observations about the film, provides historical coverage of actors featured in the movie, and is a fun companion to your watch.
NEW 4K restoration from the original negative
Spanish language track with optional English subtitles
NEW Audio commentary by Rod Barnett and Troy Guinn of the Naschycast
NEW Interview with Sergio Molina (1080p; 36:17)
NEW Interview with actor Pepe Ruiz (1080p; 20:38)
NEW Interview with actor Manuel Zarzo (1080p; 24:19)
While Night of the Executioner is far from Naschy’s best work, it is a decent rape-revenge film in the vein of Death Wish with some gruesome effects despite its low budget. The extras and great new restoration from Mondo Macabro make this worth grabbing to add to the rest of your nasty Naschy collection.
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