LA ORGIA DE LOS MUERTOS/THE ORGY OF THE DEAD
(English titles: The Hanging Woman, Return of the Zombies,
Beyond the Living Dead, Bracula)

1973

Cast: Stelvio Rosi/Stan Cooper (Serge), Dianik Zurakowska (Doris), Gerard Tichy (Professor Leonidas Dorjlaw), Maria-Pia Conte (Nadja), Paul Naschy (Igor), Carlos Quiney, Aurora De Alba (Mary), Isarco Ravaioli, Pasquele Basile (the inspector)
Director: Jose Luis Merino
Screenplay: Jose Luis Merino, Enrico Colombo
Photography: Modesto Rizzolo, Manuel Merino
Music: Francesco De Masi
Production Company:
Ramon Plana for Petruka Films (Madrid), Prodimex (Rome)

Running time: 94 min.

Eastmancolor; exteriors shot in the Pyrenees and Milan

U.S. theatrical release: Probably was released under various titles, including THE HANGING WOMAN from International Artists. A poster of the film (seen above) exists under the BRACULA title. Note that this poster contains an image from LA NOCHE DE WALPURGIS!

Video: Various (see below); because of its reputed public domain status, this film has seen more video releases than any other Naschy film.

   

        

 

 

Review of the three main variants of LA ORGIA DE LOS MUERTOS: There is no definitive known version of LA ORGIA DE LOS MUERTOS. Three main variants exist: 1) The Spanish print, the most complete, but replacing all nudity with fully clothed scenes, 2) THE HANGING WOMAN version, which is not complete and is missing a few seconds of gore, but which is fuller than 3) The Wizard version, RETURN OF THE ZOMBIS, the best looking version which contains the all the nudity of THE HANGING WOMAN version and a few extra seconds of "gore." Surely there are more minor variants, released by various distribution and video companies. Most of these, if not all, reflect the "Hanging Woman" version of the film. To make any sense of this, the Spanish print must be used as a template, even though it disappoints in terms of nudity. Unfortunately, the two available videos of the Spanish version--the American Video Latino, and Divisa's version from Spain--are full frame, rather pale in color and not sharp. Still, they will do in terms of comparison with the English-dubbed prints. Incidentally, I've seen an Italian version of this film, and its completely butchered. 

 

Spanish language print - ca. 94 min., 18 sec.

The Hanging Woman version - ca. 90 min., 51 sec.

The Wizard version - ca. 89 min., 14 sec.

Begins with characters outside a cemetery gate heading to a burial of Count Mihajly. Credits appear over the proceedings. Begins right after the last of the credits in the Spanish version, the first shot being a zoom of Mary (Aurora de Alba) watching those gathered for the burial heading down to the tomb for the religious service. Begins like the Spanish print. Credits also appear over the sequence, this time rendered in English. The title, RETURN OF THE ZOMBIS, is presented in a different and plain font, apparently enginered by Wizard for its video release.
Inside the underground tomb, a priest reads the servic; portentous lightning; glances exchanged among the participants. This sequence is shortened. Same as Spanish version.
Serge (Stan Cooper) arrives in town to be present at the reading of the will of his uncle, Count Mihajly; walks around the cemeter; bumps into the "hanging woman". Because there have been no credits as yet in this version, the HANGING WOMAN title is now shown over a freeze frame of the hanging woman. Same as Spanish version.
Serge tries to find help in village, finally gains entry in household of Count Mihajly; autopsy of Mary; her nude body, seen in the English-dubbed versions, is not shown, but all the graphic heart excision is. The autopsy contains the nudity and the heart removal, but is missing a elongated slice into the fake-looking human skin. Contains all the nudity and gore.
Talking among the inspector and other members of the Mihajly household, which include Professor Dorjlaw (Gerard Tichy) and his daugther, Doris (Dianik Zurakowska). This sequence is intercut with Naschy peeking through a hole in the wall, making it seem as if Naschy is eavesdropping on the conversations. But his scene is lifted from a subsequent scene. The reddish light source hitting his face is cleary at odds with the light source emanating from room. An odd edit. Same as Spanish version
Nadja (Maria-Pia Conte) eavesdrops from above on; then calls for Igor (Paul Naschy) while she disrobes. Igor comes and begins to kiss and fondle her, before running away to the caves below, which are filled with female corpses. Igor displays his necrophiliac ways. Contains nude shots of Nadja and the female corpses in the cavern sequence. Same nudity as in HANGING WOMAN
Autopsy doctor arrives at house, relates information. The inspector and the Mihajly household watch Igor seal woman in tomb. The inspector and Serge go to Igor's house, search premises. Same as Spanish version. The first instance of a cut in this version, several cuts, in fact. The autopsy doctor's appearance is missing; also missing is the entire sequence of Igor sealing the tomb, and much of the walk outside is abridged.
Back in house, more talking among the household; Igor at window, Doris screams, chase of Igor. Nadja preforms a couple of voodoo-type rituals: sticks pin into doll, cuts her wrist to elicit blood. Same as Spanish version. Missing the voodoo sequence, and one brief shot of her eavesdropping.
Serge gets into fight with Ivan, the servant; goes to room, is attacked by Igor. Nadja invites Serge to her room; they make love. Same as Spanish version but with nudity. Same as HANGING WOMAN version. 
Doris surprises Serge in bed with Nadja. Later, Doris enters his room again. Serge teases her, ordering her to undress, but no nudity is shown in this version. Doris reveals her breasts in this version. Same as HANGING WOMAN version. 
Doris and Serge search Mary's room and find a diary. Serge goes to a the mayor hoping to be believed that in the tomb holds an answer to the strange occurrences that have been hapening. The official obviously doesn't believe him. Serge leaves in a huff and joins Doris in wagon, gets bar, walks away, but Doris goes after him and wants to join him. Doris distracts guards while Cooper enters tomb, finds body missing. Same as Spanish version. Wizard deletes the confrontation between the mayor and the conversation between Serge and Doris on the wagon.
Serge agrees to a seance. At seance Nadja is murderer by the dead Count Mihajly; Serge runs to tomb; Igor goes underneath, too; Serge is knocked unconscious. Igor sees person who did it, as he hides inside. Same as Spanish version. Same as Spanish version.
Inspector helps Serge regain consciousness; they investigate the tomb, but Count is in the tomb, dead. Body of Igor is found buried in another tomb, writing in blood inside gives clue to the murderer. Scene with inspector and Professor Dorjlaw in his laboratory, which serves as depository for the bodies of Nadia and Igor. Same as Spanish version. Same as Spanish version.
Nice scene with nice music-box theme between Serge and Doris in room. Later Serge sees mysterious hooded figure, thinks it Doris, but meets Doris in another part of the house; they search the laboratory. Find Nadia's body missing; for good measure Serge thrusts knife deep into the dead Igor. Same as Spanish version. Same as Spanish version.
Serge and Doris find secret underground passage which lead through catacombs and outside, where they are confronted by zombies of Nadia and Ivan, the servant. Serge flames the opening they move into. Inspector captures Serge. Same as Spanish version. Same as Spanish version.
Doris continues escaping in the underground passage. More zombies! Serge, meanwhile, is handcuffed by the inspector to his bed. In this vulnerable position, Serge figures out the bloodstained clue Igor left behind. Same as Spanish version. Same as Spanish version.
Professor Dorjlaw turns up. He is the culprit. A zombie Igor, under the influence of the professor, turns up. Igor attacks Serge, who frees himself, and beheads Igor with a sword. A couple of extra roles of Igor's head, and its stabilization on the floor, are missing. Same as Spanish version.
Doris is locked in tomb, zombies turn up; Serge and Professor Dorjlaw help her; the professor is strangled by the zombies, fire, Serge and Doris escape. Same as Spanish version. Same as Spanish version.
Doris will take father's body to be buried in the city, not the town; Serge will be staying behind to finish off a few formalities with the authorities. As Doris drives off in the wagon, her father's coffin slowly opens up and his hand grips the border. Same as Spanish version. Same as Spanish version.
A nice end credit roll against a black screen. The credits are in Spanish, of course. Credit roll over black screen. All the names are made-up or anglicized. Naschy is "Paul Nash," and is listed further down in the credits than he would normally be. Jack Daniels (!) is responsible for the story and screenplay, and John Davidson is named as the director. Originally an International Artists Release, the Troma video release contains a new 1997 copyright by Grand National Pictures. Ends without any end credits.

 

An early THE HANGING
WOMAN tape from Neon

Unicorn's release is the same
as THE HANGING WOMAN version

The Wizard Tape, uncut only
in terms of nudity and gore

The OOP American Video Latino
release of the Spanish print

A recent Spanish release from Divisa,
part of their Cine de Terror series

The darkish and dreary
Troma release of early 2000