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  Swamp of the Ravens, The Where Science Lets Us Down
Year: 1974
Director: Manuel Caño
Stars: Ramiro Oliveras, Marcia Bichette, Fernando Sancho, Gaspar Bacigallipi, César Carmigniani, Melba Centeno, Bill Harrison, Mónica Jurado, Antonia Mas, Marcos Molina, Marcos Navas, Domingo Valdivieso, Fabiola Vallejo
Genre: Horror, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Doctor Frosta (Ramiro Oliveras) is a scientist who was brought up before the medical authorities for his experiments with dead bodies - recently dead bodies, at that. He wanted to prove that even after a few minutes of death he could revive them with a special serum he had devised, and to prove it had liberated a corpse, put it in the back of an ambulance and set about bringing it back to life with an injection, which worked as the man sat up with an unearthly yell. However, this is a violation of all sorts of regulations so he is told to pack his bags, which explains why he ends up in South America, still determined to continue his research...

There aren't many horror movies from Ecuador, but The Swamp of the Ravens was one of those, actually a production with a selection of Spanish talent, and partly backed by Spanish money looking for a cheap location to make a frankly also pretty cheap film. Manuel Caño was the man at the helm, creator of a number of trashy flicks of which this was possibly the most notorious, although that assumes it was well known in the first place which it wasn't, particularly. The reason it had a reputation as one to avoid unless you wanted to turn your stomach was the inclusion of actual autopsy footage, which was notable not only thanks to its exploitative nature, but also for its presentation.

When the Mexican movie Night of the Bloody Apes included actual open heart surgery in its running time, you could just about forgive it, but when this movie had a corpse, playing the role of one of the supporting characters, being cut up to find out what killed the fictional person then you would likely balk. No matter there were no closeups and the autopsy happened in one corner of the frame, it was also notable for having a few of the cast standing around acting within the same shot, and that included Spaghetti Western stalwart Fernando Sancho, who may not have been reputed to be a nice guy at all, but on this evidence was prepared to have even lower standards than his detractors might have ever considered.

Still, it was one scene lasting about thirty seconds in a ninety minute movie, so how did the rest of it measure up? You might be thinking after that Caño's efforts would be fairly low rent, and you would be precisely correct in that assumption, for there were few works, even in the field of low budget horror, that were quite as slapdash as this one. Padding the action out with a plethora of the titular ravens flying about, landing in trees, eating a rubber hand and so on, the Frankensteinian mad scientist in this case had a job in a laboratory, but in addition enjoyed retiring to his own personal lab out in the swamp, which consisted of a wooden shack filled with animals in cages, not the most hygenic premises for scientific research you would have thought, but then that would credit this with more sense than was available.

As if being a corpse mishandler was not enough, Dr Frosta is something of a pervert as well, and his girlfriend Simone (Marcia Brichette) is under his thumb yet desperate to escape to the arms of lounge singer Richard, who is creepy too, what with his nightclub act featuring a mannequin he serenades a ballad about a robot to, though he does come across as more stable emotionally than the doc, inability to carry a tune in a bucket aside. Simone would be better off with him, but when she gives Frosta the slip and heads off to the airport, the madman follows her and kidnaps the woman from under the nose of her crooner boyfriend. Soon she is strapped to a table in the shack as her kidnapper fondles her and promises to conduct some dreadful experiment on her, though that turns out to be comparitively mild in regard to some of the stuff we have seen here, including Sancho's dinnertime etiquette. Oh, and did I mention Frosta's failed experiments stand around in the swamp up to their necks in water, and occasionally eat people? Truly this was trash which kept on giving. Music by Joaquín Torres.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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