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Rowland V. Lee
It's strange that I keep on discovering movies in which Boris Karloff actually plays the GOOD guy! The man will always be an icon of horror-cinema, of course, but I used to think he exclusively portrayed monsters, mad scientists and psychopaths. Here in this forgotten 50's Goth epic, Karloff stars as the noble and honorable resident doctor of an Austrian castle community of which the owner Count Von Bruno is the only true sadist and murderer! Sir Ronal Burton arrives at the castle to search for his two missing friends, of which he believes Von Bruno captured and killed them, and eventually relies on Karloff's character Meissen to save him. Von Bruno is a real villain who enjoys barbaric hunting games and holds an impressive collection of torture devices in his dungeon. Burton falls in love with his repressed wife Elga and when he's unmasked as Von Bruno's ancient nemesis, they're both locked up in the cellar. The script of "The Black Castle" is rather complex, but well constructed and rich on topics that fans of vintage Gothic cinema will certainly appreciate. The atmosphere in the extended hunting game sequences reminded me a bit of "The Most Dangerous Game" and the set pieces inside the castle looked genuinely sinister. There are more than enough sub plots and twisted supportive characters to keep the film compelling despite the lack of gruesome horror situations and make-up effects. The cast features another familiar horror face, Lon Chaney Jr., but he and Karloff sadly don't get enough screen time to list "The Black Castle" among their most memorable achievements in acting. This was the debut feature of the respectable director Nathan Juran, who went on making fun & undemanding Sci-Fi/horror flicks like "The Deadly Mantis", "20 Million Miles to Earth" and "The Brain from Planet Arous".
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