I've read mixed reviews about "A Bell From Hell" for years, but I've never had a chance to actually see the film, so my expectations were in check. However, after watching the new Lions Gate DVD I'm happy to say it's one of the best 60's-70's Spanish horror films I've ever seen, and I would easily stick it right up there with The House That Screamed, In A Glass Cage, and Blood Spattered Bride.
Basically it's a simple revenge story, about a young man who's recently been released from a mental institution, and is eager to teach a lesson to those were responsible for committing him. His vehicle for retribution is a series of vaguely cruel and humiliating "practical-jokes" that gain in severity until they become harrowingly grotesque.
Although it has a lot in common with the Italian "Giallos" of the time, A Bell From Hell also displays a level poetry and surrealism that's ultimately more lush and dreamy. Director Claudio Guerín Hill, doesn't appear all that hung up on logic, exposition, or the conventions of a linear plot, but he is a master-stylist capable of composing highly effective scenes that are breathtaking as they veer from beauty to brutality. In fact his use of artfully shot and edited slaughterhouse footage to foreshadow future events, will undoubtedly put some viewers off, but it's inclusion doesn't have the sleazy gratuitous feel that it does in the "mondo" & Italian Cannibal films of the 70's, and I would argue for the validity of it's inclusion.
The cast is attractive, both male and female, and Bell also has the added bonus of featuring the always fascinating, Viveca Lindfors in a substantial part.
Sadly, it appears on the last day of shooting, the Director was killed when he fell (or jumped) from the bell-tower featured in film. Had he lived he probably would have made some remarkable films.