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All right, the writing is something to be desired, but this movie is so richly photographed and the great '60's Scream Queen Barbara Steele is so alluring that it hardly matters. This movie uses Steele to full advantage, and even casts the sultry, sinister star in a dual role, much like Mario Bava's classic BLACK SUNDAY. Babs stars as a faithless wife who, along with her lover, is tortured to death by her vengeful-husband. However, her hubby finds that this may not have been the great revenge he thought it would be because his wife left her inheritance to her mentally unbalanced sister(Steele again, this time in a blonde wig). Of course, being the sadistic, money-hungry, conniving little swine that he is, he decides to marry his sister-in-law, and drive her to complete hysteria so he can commit her to the local loony bin and claim the family fortune for himself. Naturally, things don't go exactly as planned, but I won't give the rest of this weird little gem away. Shown in the US in a severely cut version that is so butchered, it's hardly worth watching. The original full-length European version is rare, but definitely worth seeking out.
Laughable dialogue doesn't detract too much from this moody, sometimes disturbing Italian Gothic. The story seems to be loosely adapted from an M.R. James ghost story called "Lost Hearts". Although the torture scenes in the uncut version are remarkably strong for their time, there are other things that are more disquieting. Most hideous of all is the character of Solange, the maid, whose youth has been restored by a dead woman's blood. When she speaks of how the blood grows cold and heavy in her veins, it's a very unsettling moment. The black-and-white photography is beautifully atmospheric. Ennio Morricone's music is more conventional than usual -- especially the mazurka that represents Muriel, which is too simple and sentimental for a Barbara Steele character... but the tremendous Fugue for organ which dominates the soundtrack deserves special mention. In spite of its lapses, and with apologies to Mario Bava, this is still my favorite Italian Gothic horror film!
Of course Nightmare Castle used to scare the hell out of me as a kid when I saw it on late-night TV, it's not exactly scary anymore but it's still a lot of fun to watch as I discovered buying it on DVD. Brings back a lot of memories of staying up late in a dark room watching old horror movies on the late late show, TV certainly has lost a lot of charm since the late 70's as you rarely find gems like this on anymore. Heck you'd be lucky to even find a late late show anymore, let alone old horror movies. But anyhow, good to see this one again.
'Night Of The Doomed' is an excellent Gothic thriller, full of mystery, atmosphere and chills. The stunning Barbara Steele, arguably the most beautiful Scream Queen of all, plays a duel role as an unfaithful wife, who is tortured and murdered by her scientist husband (Jess Franco regular Paul Muller), and the wife's mentally fragile sister. Muller marries the sister in an attempt to keep his hands on his late wife's fortune, needing the money to help finance his experiments. His new bride finds herself going through some increasingly strange experiences, which unbeknown to her seem to be caused by her dead sister's attempts at revenge from beyond the grave. This is a first rate example of a melodramatic supernatural thriller. Steele and Muller are both excellent and well cast, and their performances added to the stylish black and white photography, and an above average Morricone score, make this is a real treat for fans of Italian horror and giallo.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Fans of the ravishing goddess Barbara Steele will immediately rank "Nightmare Castle" among their favorites, simply because she plays a lovely double-role. And, either blond or brunette, Barbara remains the most gorgeous actress who ever lived! But, luckily enough, "Nightmare Castle" is more than just a one-girl-show. It's an atmospheric and ominous Gothic tale with genuine moments of fear and darkness. Steele shines as the adulterous Muriel Arrowsmith who's tortured and eventually put to death by her husband, the sinister Dr. Stephen. The guy exclusively lives for his secret scientific experiments in the basement and, in order to keep custody over the castle, he remarries the countess' mentally unstable sister Jenny (Barbara again!!). Stephen developed the diabolical plan of driving his new wife insane by the eerie castle surrounding, but it looks like he'll be whizzed by the restless souls of Muriel and her lover that still wander around the castle. The large and ugly looking castle is effectively used as the location for all sort of morbid barbarities. The torture dungeon, the laboratory, the greenhouse All these are very impressive horror settings. It's pretty obvious that director Mario Caiano attempts to cash in on Steele's success that started with Black Sunday in every possible way, but still his film has enough personality to stand on its own as a modest but not-to-be-missed classic. I do admit that there are some tedious sequences in the script, though. The best way to struggle yourself through these is focusing on the downright brilliant musical score by none other than Ennio Morricone. Beautiful Barbara receives good backup from the malevolent actor Paul Muller. Fans with a passion for Euro-exploitation movies will definitely recognize him from Jess Franco highlights like "She Killed in Ecstasy", "Virgin among the Living Dead" and "Lesbian Vampires". This "Nightmare Castle" is warmly recommended viewing, preferably together with "Black Sunday", "Castle of Blood" and "Satan's Sister". Make it an all-Barbara Steele day!!
Italian queen of Gothic horror Barbara Steele portrays the wife of a deranged scientist played by Paul Muller whose latest experiments involve electro-stimulation of human blood.When the mad doctor discovers that his wife is unfaithful,he tortures,disfigures and kills her alongside her gardener lover,then removes and preserves the hearts of the victims,using their blood to restore youth and beauty to his own lover Solange.When the madman discovers that his late wife left all her wealth to her mentally unstable sister he quickly sets about courting and marrying the poor girl,then proceeds to drive her completely mad in order to inherit her fortune."Nightmare Castle" is an essence of Italian Gothic horror.It takes place almost entirely in castle interiors,frequently in utter darkness.There are some scenes of depressing violence and the visuals are rich and beautiful.The hypnotic eyes of Barbara Steele are not easy to forget.9 out of 10.
My main reason for seeing this film was the fact that it's on the
Redemption label. Redemption films are often not all that good, but
they have great cult value and are usually worth seeking out. Of
course, Barbara Steele offered up another reason for watching - but
still, my expectations for this film weren't very high. After the first
twenty minutes, however, my low expectations turned into hopefulness;
as I prayed that the remaining eighty minutes would be as great as the
first twenty! The film grabs you instantly with it's combination of
crisp black and white photography, morbid subject material, Gothic
locations and a score courtesy of the great Ennio Morricone. The film
is pure cult class, which really doesn't let up until the final credits
role. The plot follows a man who, after finding his wife with another
man, proceeds to torture them both. However, she takes the upper hand
when she lets him know that all of her wealth has been left not to him
- but to her imbecile sister! Our protagonist isn't taking this lying
down, however, and it isn't long before he's returning to the castle
with a new bride
Just like she did in Mario Bava's masterpiece "Black Sunday", Barbara Steele takes on a dual role. Despite being obviously the same actress, it's easy to buy into the fact that she's playing too different characters. Her roles are suitably different, and she plays them both to perfection. Steele is often passed off as merely a horror film actress; but she really does have talent. The rest of the cast's performance is marred somewhat by some really awful dubbing and a script that isn't much better, but it doesn't matter too much because the focus of the film is never on the acting - it's clearly on the atmosphere. The plot gives way to a beautiful set of locations; the lushly Gothic castle photographed in the same cinematic style as the best black and white films that Italian cinema has to offer. At times, the film is incoherent and the plot doesn't always flow well; but it doesn't matter much, because there is always enough of the style element to ensure that the film remains interesting. The fact that the plotting isn't soaked with silly jump moments and out of place imagery makes me love the film even more; as it's clear that the director cares more about delivering story and atmosphere rather than simply trying to scare the audience. On the whole; the film has flown under more than a few radars, but that's unfair as it's damn good! Take that as a recommendation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first saw this chilling film from 1965 on a horror film showcase called Macabre Theatre co-hosted by Butch Patrick, Eddie from the Munsters. Directed by Mario Caiano, it stars Barbara Steele who was championed by horror film directors in Italy and who once upon a time even starred in Fellini's 8 1/2. Also in the cast: Paul Muller, Helga Line, Laurence Clift and Rik Battaglia. It has all the elements of Gothic romance/horror. Old castles, candles, organ music, ghosts, torture in a dungeon and eerie visuals. Muriel (Steele)is married to Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith (Paul Miller)but engages in an extramarital affair with the sexy gardener (Addobati). The lovers are caught en flagrance and Dr. Stephen extracts his brutal revenge by electrocuting them to death in his dungeon. Years later, he marries his dead wife's sister who looks just like her. Muriel and her lover, now ghosts, extract their own revenge on Stephen - and his current paramour the housemaid Solange (Helga Line)through the intervention of a psychiatrist Dr. Joyce (Laurence Clift). The latter parts of the film are the scariest, though the Eloctrocution scene is radically violent and sure to have earned the film an R rating. This movie seems to have been originally released in Italy and the sound/vocal-synch makes it obvious. It's in black and white but some versions are in color. Very evocative music and haunting cinematography. One of the greater horror classics.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After such brilliant films as "Black Sunday" (1960), "The Pit And The
Pendulum" (1961) and "Castle Of Blood" (1964), "Gli Amanti
D'Oltretomba" aka "Nightmare Castle" of 1965 is yet another mesmerizing
and highly atmospheric Gothic Horror tale starring Horror-goddess
Barbara Steele (my favorite actress of all-time) that must not be
missed by any true Horror fan. Director Caiano really did a great job
building up an immensely creepy and unique atmosphere in this brilliant
Italian Gothic Horror gem, an atmosphere that is even intensified by
the eerie score composed by no one less than the great Ennio Morricone.
- Possible Minor SPOILERS ahead! -
Aided by his maid Solange (Helga Liné), the ruthless Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith (Paul Mueller), who conducts bizarre experiments in his eerie castle, catches his beautiful wife, Countess Muriel Arrowsmith (Barbara Steele) red handed with her lover (Giuseppe Addobbati). The Doctor thereupon brutally tortures his wife and her lover before murdering them in a sadistic manner. Since it was his wife, who brought the wealth into the marriage, he then marries his wife's kind-hearted, but emotionally disturbed sister Jenny (also Barbara Steele), whom Muriel has made beneficiary in her will. While the Doctor has his own plans with Jenny, his late wife's sister seems strangely possessed when she comes to live at the castle...
"Nightmare Castle" is a vastly underrated little genre-gem that delivers pure Gothic Horror greatness in every aspect. A wonderfully eerie atmosphere, chilling suspense, an excellent score and great acting. The great acting comes particularly from the wonderful Barbara Steele, who once again delivers a brilliant performance in her double role as Muriel/Jenny Arrowsmith. Paul Mueller is furthermore great and wonderfully evil in his role as the unscrupulous Doctor Stephen Arrowsmith, and Helga Liné is very good as his accomplice, the maid Solange. Some of the main aspects creating this movie's mesmerizing atmosphere are the amazing photography by Enzo Barboni, Ennio Morricone's brilliant score, and, not least, the eerie castle setting. This is great Gothic Horror as it should be - greatly acted and excellently photographed creepiness that is spine-chilling from the beginning the end.
All said, "Nightmare Castle" is a mesmerizing Gothic Horror tale that no Horror fan can afford to miss. A Must-See!
A mad scientist finds his wife cheating on him with the butler. After
torturing them with electric shock and other gruesome methods
(whippings, beatings) he finally kills them. But to get the inheritance
from his wife's family, he has to marry her lunatic sister who is now
cursed with the spirit of his dead wife. On top of this, we have an old
women who remains young with the blood of the dead wife, who feels the
dried and cold blood inside her.
Sounds good, right? And it is. The only thing that could have been better was the dubbing from Italian to English, but after the first five minutes you hardly notice anymore. The black and white really sets a mood and the fact the blood is black (because it can't be red) makes it seem even more sinister than it had to be.
Luca Palmerini calls this one an "elegantly executed story of love after death." Director Mario Caiano (under the name Allan Grunewald) is upstaged the same year by Mario Bava's "Planet of the Vampires", though I daresay the former is better. "Vampires" is given too much credit, while this film (and "Terror Creatures From the Grave") are forgotten. Caiano has said that Barbara Steele had a face that was "elusive and obscure", and was "an introverted sort of person." Considering her mythical status, even at the time, this may strike the viewer as odd. It sure seemed odd to me! And let us not forget the classic, creepy organ music by Ennio Morricone.
The Madacy DVD claims to be "digitally remastered", but is in the same poorly lit, grainy black and white as always. A better copy would surely improve this film's legacy. (Caiano had intended the film to be in black, white and red!) Interestingly, when you put the disc in a computer, it claims to be "Last Man on Earth".
I'm beginning to grow more fond of old horror films, especially with my disillusionment with modern horror. And this film is one of the better old horror films I've found. Recommended for those who are sick of Hollywood pumping horror films out for little girls.
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