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What truly makes the difference between "La Vergine di Norimberga" and the rest of the Italian horror movies of the 60s and 70s is the amazing visual composition that director Antonio Margheriti creates with the aid of his team. Music and visuals converge to create one of the most beautifully looking horror movies.
Based on a novel by Frank Bogart, the movie is about a woman, Mary (Rosanda Podestà), who has recently moved to his new husband's castle in Germany. The Gothic castle keeps many secrets and one night Mary watches a murdered woman inside of one of the many torture devices kept in the castle's museum. Her husband, Max Hunter (George Riviere), thinks it was a hallucination since there is no proof a murder took place in the castle, but she is convinced that the old family friend Erich (Christopher Lee), is responsible of the murder. The mysterious dark figure of "The Punisher" roams the castle, but is he a ghost? or something else? This movie mixes perfectly the suspense and the mystery, the jazzy score at first may seem odd, but it fits the movie very well, giving a bigger atmosphere of surrealism to the movie, very fitting to Mary's confused state of mind. The beautiful sets are like a canvas, with a palette predominantly red that gives the movie an elegant, yet dark look. It is a very unique look for a horror movie, and it works in an awesome way.
The acting is good for the most part, although the dubbing that Italian movies used to have is a bit bad. Particularly in the case of Christopher Lee, whose voice is quite different. Nevertheless, Podestà makes a great performance and while Lee is relegated to a supporting role, he also makes a good job. George Riviere's performance may not be the best, although It would be better to judge it with the original audio.
The score is haunting, and very appropriate. Oscar winner Riz Ortolani created a score that sets up the atmosphere of surrealism the film demands. In fact, if a flaw was to be found, was that at times it feels too much style over substance, as there are points of high visual beauty but little plot development.
The SFX are quite advanced for its age, mainly in the make-up department, as the movie delivers some gore making a bizarre contrast between the beauty of the setting and the gruesome violence of the villain. While this movie may seem outdated, it is an overlooked gem that is still very good.
This was the first horror movie by Antonio Margheriti, and it was without a doubt his best. A joy to watch, Italian Gothic horror at its best. 8/10
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