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Dr. Eswai is called by Inspector Kruger to a small village to perform an autopsy on a woman who has died under suspicious circumstances. Despite help from Ruth, the village witch, Kruger is killed and it is revealed that the dead woman, as well as other villagers, have been killed by the ghost of Melissa, a young girl who, fed by the hatred of her grieving mother, Baroness Graps, exacts her revenge on them. Dr. Eswai, along with Monica, a local nurse, are lured into a fateful confrontation at the Villa Graps. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In a small town in Transylvanian, police detective Kruger calls upon Doctor Paul Eswai to perform an autopsy on a woman who died a violent death, but the unusual thing is that a coin was embedded in her heart. When Dr Eswai arrives in town he discovers that the town is paralysed by fear of a dreaded curse of a spirit of a young girl who died 20 years earlier and the towns folk aren't all to happy about doctor interfering in their business.
Breathtaking! Yes, breathtaking indeed. It's only my third viewing of a Mario Bava film and what a talented and versatile director he is. This film breathes Gothic atmosphere and chills, with air of mystery to keep you glued to this subtle nightmare. The remote nature of the film adds to the spooky sets with dark shadowy pathways, creepy graveyard, a misty town with its eerie ruins and a downright unnerving Villa Graps, where the locals fear to tread! The whole surroundings come across as rather forbiddingly stark and very alienating. With a colour scheme that jumps out at you and that only Bava can create. What compensates the visual flair is the horrifyingly tense, but mystical score and effectively jittery sound effects. Damn that hissing wind! Also profound camera work that's incredibly vivid and swirling panning all over the place helps convey such a brood mood. There always seemed to be lurking danger even if it wasn't evident on screen. With all that, we are put into a whirlwind of such unease, which bleeds with a high amount of tension and frights.
The odd plot builds on the superstition and the dialogue was rather interesting. Performances were so-so, no one really stood out, but they fit the buck. Really, Bava was the real star here and it shows. Even the special effects were well used, but the make-up of child spirit was damn freaky. Especially those scenes with those hands going pitta padder at the window seal. Shivers ran down my spine! Although, saying that it does have some weak spots in the continuity of the plot and I thought ending was all a bit too convenient. Anyhow, this didn't damaged my experience of this menacing chiller that grows on atmosphere, not violence. The story might be your standard run of the mill, but it's Bava's direction that makes it visually impressive and immensely spooky. Also, what a great title!
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