Count Karnstein sends for a doctor to help his sick daughter Laura. Her nurse believes she is possessed by the spirit of a dead ancestor;Carmilla. A young woman becomes intrigued by the ... See full summary »
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Roy Ward Baker
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Count Karnstein sends for a doctor to help his sick daughter Laura. Her nurse believes she is possessed by the spirit of a dead ancestor;Carmilla. A young woman becomes intrigued by the mysterious deaths surrounding Laura after a carriage accident outside the castle forces her to stay. They become close friends until Laura becomes convinced the spirit of Carmilla is forcing her to kill. Written by
Randy Van Ort <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Many of my fellow Eurohorror enthusiasts seem to have been disappointed by Camillo Mastrocinque's "La Cripta e l'incubo" aka. "Crypt of the Vampire" of 1964. For understandable reasons as the film, which stars Horror icon Christopher Lee, certainly doesn't range among the most memorable efforts in Italian Gothic Horror from the 1960s. Fact is, however, that this country, time and sub-genre stands for many of the greatest Horror films ever brought to screen, and even many of the lesser productions, such as this film, are entertaining films as such. This is one of only two Horror films by director Mastrocinque, the other being the vastly superior "Un Angelo Per Satana" of 1966 starring Genre-Goddess Barbara Steele (my favorite actress). This "Crypt of the Vampire" very obviously borrowed many story-elements from another Italian Gothic Horror film, Mario Bava's unequaled masterpiece "La Maschera Del Demonio" aka. "Black Sunday of 1960 (probably my choice for the greatest Horror film of all-time, and, of course, it also stars Barbara Steele). It can in no way compete with Bava's masterpiece, of course, nor with the many other Italian Gothic highlights from the day, be it Bava's, Antoino Margheriti's, or Riccardo Freda's films of even with Mastrocinque's own "Angelo Per Satana". Yet "Crypt of the Vampire" has many qualities. One has to give it to director Mastrocinque that he was capable of creating an uncanny atmosphere in spite of an obviously low budget. Again, he did so more impressively in "Un Angelo Per Satana", but one has to admit that this film is also highly atmospheric.
Count Karnstein (Christopher Lee) has sent for a doctor to help his daughter Laura (Adriana Ambesi). The young lady Karnstein has been tormented by terrible nightmares, and it is believed that she is possessed by the evil spirit of a dead ancestor... The film's major weakness is that it is too slow-going, especially in the first half. It is always atmospheric though, and the film really catches up in the second half, and gets quite creepy in some parts. Also, there are some nicely demented characters, such as a disfigured beggar. As it was the case with a truly brilliant Gothic film from the same year, Antonio Margheriti's "Danza Macabra" (aka. Castle of Blood"), this film has a certain lesbian subtext. The female cast in this film are beautiful, but not comparable to Barbara Steele (I can't stop praising her) and Margarete Robsahm who stunned viewers in "Danza Macabra". Also, while the (implied) lesbianism is a nicely exploitative element in this film, the explicit stuff that became common practice in Exploitation cinema only a few years later in the late 60s makes it look very harmless. Even so, it is a fun element of the film. More screen time for the great Christopher Lee would certainly have helped the film. The female cast members are entirely hot, but none of them is extremely talented. As said, the film's strong point lies in the atmosphere. Overall, "Crypt of the Vampire" is by no means a must-see or even a very good film. However, I personally enjoyed it and I think that many of my fellow fans of Italian 60s Gothic Horror might see it the same way.
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