Friday, January 11, 2019

The Sound of Horror

The Sound of Horror (aka El Sonido de la Muerte)
José Antonio Nieves Conde

Dr. Asilov (James Philbrook) and his friend Andre (Antonio Casas) are treasure hunting in a cave in Spain. Their partner Dorman (José Bódalo) along with his driver Pete (Arturo Fernández) and Pete’s girlfriend Sofia (Ingrid Pitt) arrive. Soon after the trio blows open part of the cave, they find not only some strange egg-like rocks but a mummified Neanderthal… oh, and there is a lot of screeching and blood as they become the targets of an invisible dinosaur that also there.

The Sound of Horror engages in the most cost-saving kind of monster, the invisible kind. In this case, it is a dinosaur that has some ability to blend into its surroundings, but functionally it’s completely invisible. The movie does not spend a lot of time on gimmicks like objects floating through the air or seeing something slowly become transparent. The dinosaur is invisible for 99% of the movie and that’s just how it’s going to be. Sure there is a short reveal at the very end, but it is so underwhelming that I would caution you from putting any expectations on it.

Los pies del sonido de la muerte.
The Sound of Horror might shy away from shoving a dinosaur in your face but it does not skimp on the gore. Faces are slashed, blood is spilled, and it feels like intense stuff especially coming from something released in 1966. Engaging in some brazen violence really helps push the monster as an actual threat rather than just watching a bunch of actors react to nothing. There is a delightful tension from seeing characters in danger from something that is right in front of them and could strike at any moment. The invisible beast sparks the imagination more than a rubber-suited monster could ever do, which another reason why the final reveal is a letdown.

The Sound of Horror starts as a mystery and slowly becomes a siege movie as the characters find themselves trapped in their house against a foe they can’t see. I found the solution to combating the dinosaur pretty clever, and their (almost) final showdown with it is a cool little moment in a film that didn’t try to do too much with its own invisible creation.

When shaving your chest goes horribly wrong.
The version I saw was dubbed into English from the original Spanish, so I find it difficult to say much about the performances. All the of the characters are likable enough. Pete (Arturo Fernández)  the young driver who is pushed into the leading role by the end is a fun goofball, singing the charms of his favorite vehicle whom he has dubbed Diana. Horror icon, Ingrid Pitt makes an early career appearance as Sofia and even manages to get showcased in a slinky dance number about half-way through the film.

The Sound of Horror sounds like a silly premise and with only a few missteps it could have turned into a blunder. It wisely plays to the inherent strengths of its own premise and offers some gruesome sights to go with the pressure cooker situation. It is a weird film, but it is a weird film that works very well.

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