La Campaña del infierno (1973) from Tuna

The French/Spanish co-production of La Campana del infierno, or a Bell from Hell, is a horror offering shot in Franco's Spain. The horror premise masked the fact that it was also intended as a condemnation of bourgeois hypocrisy in Spain.

After his mother's suicide, a young man has been confined to an asylum under psychiatric care by his aunt and three cousins so they can control his inheritance. He is released on a sort of trial basis just before he returns to court. Before returning to his aunt's house, he makes a brief stop working at a slaughterhouse, where the film actually pictures the killing and butchering of cattle. These scenes have historically been cut from the film, but have been restored for this DVD. After he learns the butcher's trade, we get the idea that he will be seeking revenge back home, and we wonder if the slaughterhouse detour is relevant. The opening act establishes the characters, but is mostly about inference and imagery, much of it surrealistic.

As his revenge begins, we initially see him doing nothing more vengeful than a series of elaborate and somewhat cruel practical jokes. In one of his early jokes, he wears arm casts and braces, gets a targeted man to hold his dick while he urinates, then "tears his eyes out" in front of his wife, so convincingly that she faints. He then removes her panties, unbuttons her blouse, and leaves a note claiming to have had sex with her.

The final act escalates his vengeance to a new level. The climax is inventive and makes the film more than just watchable. I will leave it up to you to discover what his final revenge plans are, how the new bell for the church fits into the plot, and why he took the time to learn how to butcher cattle.

The original director was Claudio Guerín, who was considered one of the most promising directors of European horrotica. On the final day of shooting, he either jumped or fell from the church bell tower and died at age 33. The post production work was done by Juan Antonio Bardem.

Scoop's notes:

  • Hell's Bell's fill-in director, Juan Antonio Bardem, is the uncle of the highly acclaimed Spanish actor, Javier Bardem. (Javier has seven Goya nominations, including four wins, plus two Golden Globe nominations, and an Oscar nomination.) The Bardem family is Spain's version of the Barrymores, beginning with the paterfamilias Rafael Bardem, who stated his film acting career in the early 1940s.

  • The famous Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors is in this film! Decades after Sweden and Hollywood were finished with her, she seems to have spent about six or seven years making Spanish movies. I never knew that!



  • No features except the original theatrical trailer
  • the transfer is not anamorphically enhanced, and is not especially vivid



Nuria Gimeno shows breasts and buns.

Maribel Martín was also naked, but all of the interesting bits were cleverly covered. Remember, this was Franco's Spain, with serious censorship.

The Critics Vote ...

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The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a solid C, and one of the better Spanish horror efforts I have watched, with English dubbing which is rather well done.

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