Plot: Kate (Jasmine Maimone) is part of a colorful rock band, but she faces some tough choices, as the group’s popularity has taken a nosedive. The band’s manager is not too pleased and without a hit in a while, she informs Kate that a new direction is needed or the group will vanish off the charts. A potential solution arrives when Daniel (Pascal Perciano) purchases an unpublished work from the archive of Niccolo Paganini himself. The sealed composition was provided by Mr. Pickett (Donald Pleasence), an eerie and unusual man who parted with such a precious work perhaps too easily, though the band isn’t in a position to question that. The group heads to a spooky old mansion to film the music video for Paganini’s lost masterpiece, but little do they know once the music starts, so does the supernatural chaos…
Entertainment Value: Sometimes you just need a movie with mediocre 80s rock music, fetishistic use of electrocution, a weaponized violin, and of course, the kind of villain costume you could find in a department store Halloween aisle. In those instances, you can always count on Paganini Horror, as it delivers all those elements and Donald Pleasence as a bonus. I like the narrative as well, unlocking an ancient evil via classical music and all that, as it sets up some fun sequences and is interesting enough to keep you reeled in. The movie has a cheap, rushed texture to it, which some might not like, but I think adds to the cheese factor and to me, the wackiness is the main reason to visit Paganini Horror in the first place. The craziness wanes at times, but comes in bursts and the slow stretches are never too extensive, so the pace feels right and a good amount of silliness goes on here. I mean, an evil presence in a laughable mask wielding a bladed violin is bound to deliver, right? The cast is colorful, with Daria Nicolodi on hand and Donald Pleasence in a small, but memorable role as the mysterious Mr. Pickett, who slinks around with glee. Paganini Horror has some slow moments and could be more consistently wild, but it provides some fun entertainment and more than enough wackiness to earn a recommendation.
No nakedness. This one is light on sleaze, but makes an effort to compensate by including more supernatural electric energy than one film should be allowed to unleash. There is some bloodshed however, with my personal highlight being an outlandish, hilarious face explosion that I had rewind and watch a few times. A nice full body meltdown is also here and a good amount of bladed violin attacks that yield some red stuff. The entity from beyond the grave on showcase is also quite humorous, wearing a cheap mask that looks like an off the shelf Halloween item, though his violin turned deadly weapon helps balance that out a little. The dialogue doesn’t offer up a lot of wild or crazy lines, but the performances are fun to watch. I also think the 80s rock on showcase deserves a point, as it adds silliness and is dialogue adjacent, I suppose. On to the insanity scale, where Paganini Horror puts up some solid numbers. The film opens with a great scene where a young girl helps her mother enjoy an energizing bath, but that is just the start of the electric related chaos here. Scene after scene is filled with these laughable visual effects of electric energies, always fun to watch and one sequence even has someone fisting an electric hole, which is wonderful. There’s also Einstein related graffiti, very loud noises, and a dapper Donald Pleasence with a golden dagger.
Overall Insanity: 6/10
The Disc: Severin Films bows Paganini Horror on Blu-ray with a new 2k scan from the original negative, allowing the endless parade of humorous electric shock visual effects to resonate in grand fashion. As usual, Severin delivers a clean and crisp visual effort that is likely as good as the movie will look on home video. I was impressed by the colors, which leap off the screen at times and with these kind of 80s vibes involve, you know the hues are bold and all over the place. The general detail is sharp and a nice uptick over what you’d expect from a DVD edition, so once again, Severin does a horror gem justice with a terrific new presentation. The extras here include interviews with director Luigi Cozzi and actor Pietro Genuardi, some deleted scenes, and alernate ending, and the film’s trailer. Severin’s limited edition release of Paganini Horror also includes the movie’s soundtrack on CD.
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