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Spirits of the Dead (1968)
"Histoires extraordinaires" (original title)

R  |   |  Horror, Mystery  |  23 July 1969 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 3,694 users  
Reviews: 58 user | 48 critic

Three directors each adapt a Poe short story to the screen: "Toby Dammit" features a disheveled drugged and drunk English movie star who nods acceptance in the Italian press and his ... See full summary »


(story) (as Edgar Allan Poë) , (adaptation), 8 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Giuseppina (segment "William Wilson")
William Wilson and his double (segment "William Wilson")
Contessa Frederique de Metzengerstein (segment "Metzengerstein")
Toby Dammit (segment "Toby Dammit")
Countess' Advisor (segment "Metzengerstein")
Salvo Randone ...
Priest (segment "Toby Dammit")
Françoise Prévost ...
Friend of Countess (segment "Metzengerstein") (as Francoise Prevost)
Baron Wilhelm Berlifitzing (segment "Metzengerstein")
Marlène Alexandre ...
(segment "Metzengerstein")
David Bresson
Katia Christine ...
Young girl on the dissection table (segment "William Wilson") (as Katia Christina)
Peter Dane
Georges Douking ...
Le licier (segment "Metzengerstein")
Philippe Lemaire ...
Philippe (segment "Metzengerstein")
Carla Marlier ...
Claude (segment "Metzengerstein")


Three directors each adapt a Poe short story to the screen: "Toby Dammit" features a disheveled drugged and drunk English movie star who nods acceptance in the Italian press and his producers fawn over him. "Metzengerstein" features a Mediveal countess who has a love-hate relationship with a black stallion - who, it turns out is really her dead lover. "William Wilson" tells the story of a sadistic Austrian student with an exact double whom he later kills. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


the ultimate orgy of evil See more »


Horror | Mystery


R | See all certifications »





| |

Release Date:

23 July 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Spirits of the Dead  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Electric)



Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Only film to feature siblings Jane Fonda and Peter Fonda. They play cousins. See more »


When young William Wilson splatters his fellow schoolmate with a tomato in class, the red stain on his victims face changes drastically from less to more after several moments. See more »


Referenced in The Mother and the Whore (1973) See more »


Sung by Ray Charles
Lyrics by Mitchell Parish
Music by Heinz Roemheld
See more »

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User Reviews

Three top European directors take on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
12 May 2003 | by (Ohio, USA) – See all my reviews

Roger Vadim's "Metzengerstein" is incredibly beautiful. It was shot around great-looking, crumbling oceanfront castles and is remarkably photographed, costumed and scored, it's just a shame the core plotting is so weak. The evil Baroness Frederique (Jane Fonda, the directors wife at the time) is an insatiable tyrant who presides over orgies and sadistic, dehumanizing games. When she destroys a pure soul, her distant cousin Wilhelm (Peter Fonda), horses and fire play a key role in her demise.

"William Wilson," by Louis Malle, is an entertaining reworking of the old doppelganger theme starring Alain Delon as a pure lout AND his better half, a exact copy who drives him crazy by putting a halt to his evil impulses. Odd story structure here and Brigitte Bardot (in a black wig) is good support during a fateful card game. And then comes the really good stuff.

"Toby Dammit" (released separately as "Never Bet the Devil Your Head"), a brilliant and sometimes chilling piece of enigmatic film-making from Federico Fellini. Terence Stamp is a marvel of facial expressions as boozy, obnoxious British movie star Toby Dammit, who falls apart at the seems upon arriving in Italy to start production on a Western reworking of the story of Christ. Instead he becomes imprisoned in his own personal hell. In every possible technical department, this segment is a triumph and the creepy finale (borrowing a key image from Mario Bava's KILL, BABY, KILL!) has lost absolutely none of its impact.

The score by Nino Rota and cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno deserve special recognition, as well. The version I saw (titled TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION) is subtitled, but a dubbed version also exists featuring narration by Vincent Price.

19 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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