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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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 <email@example.com>
Though only superficially faithful to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's famous novella, "Carmilla," this picture merits praise for its consistent visual distinction, and a unity of mood, (elsewhere, and accurately described as "stately") that lift it far above the overpraised (and dramatically disjointed) "Castle of the Living Dead" which Mr. Lee completed about the same time.
Allegedly set in Styria, but filmed in Italy, this film boasts deep focus black and white cinematography that clearly takes its visual cues from Bava's "Black Sunday." Indeed, this film even features a witch condemnation sequence rather similar to the one depicted in the earlier film.
The castle interiors are alive with looming shadows, the rooms dressed with the appropriate paraphernalia of the genre, (flaming braziers, suits of armor, baroque prickets and saint statues; while the exteriors contain some of the most enchanting landscapes one could wish for--not to mention unforgettable nightscapes--as of two women fleeing across a hillside in billowing peignoirs and lit by the moon, (rather like the cover of a Phyllis Whitney novel).
Also in its favor are some scenes quite faithful to Mr. Le Fanu's original, as in the barouche accident which occasions the arrival of the vampiress, (here re-named "Luba" for inexplicable reasons).
There are some demerits: a heroine that looks like a cross between Barbara Streisand and Maria Callas, and an Elke Sommerish Lady in Waiting whose adulterous relationship with Mr. Lee seems entirely gratuitous.
Nonetheless, admirers of 1960s Italian gothics need to re-examine this piece which is often unfairly dismissed, as it warrants far more attention and respect than such slush as "Terror Creatures From the Grave."
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