This film is a crackerjack, at times rivetingly atmospheric con job of a mishmash of a film that defies convention so much that it is pimped as something it really isn't. The title and opening 10 minutes or so promise a sort of Edgar Wallace-like horror thriller about young men lured to their doom in a forbidden tower somewhere in France. There are hooded assassins, some surprisingly gory deaths, a bit of female nudity, and then the film shifts gears to become a swashbuckler right out of Alexandre Dumas -- who gets a writing credit -- concerning "The Hero of the Flanders Campaign" who has come back from chasing maidens around the countryside to engage in derring-do, righting wrongs, making the ladies swoon & the other swordsmen salute his valor, and above all serve his King.
In other words this is a strange movie and I'm not surprised to look at the user ratings vote board and see an inordinate amount of 1 star ratings. That's probably because due to the Englicanized title TOWER OF SCREAMING VIRGINS, most of them gave it a look expecting atmospheric, lurid Euro Horror with 17 year old girls being torn from their clothes by satanists in red hoods for nefarious purposes. And the most notable name in the cast is Uschi Glass, best known for baring her wonderful body in various exploitation & horror epics from the 1970's.
Instead, viewers find D'artangan's 3rd cousin doing the Errol Flynn bit. The best way to describe the film it is that it's a costume drama hybrid mixing horror, swashbuckling, palace intrigue and Three Muskateers flavored heroics. Nincompoops will be disappointed, but fans of *FILM* will find this to be an enjoyable hodgepodge that has a strange agenda. The Screaming Virgins of reference are young men, the film's sporadic & exploitational nudity and at times surprisingly graphic violence are too overboard for the younger audiences this kind of fare is usually aimed at, and the movie is filmed with a sort of ornate, Gothic/baroque production design is often reminiscent of a Harald Reinl or Adrian Hoven production. Misty, vaulted castle interiors with winding staircases to nowhere look like an Escher drawing, with swordfighters leaping from parapets instead of Count Dracula.
The change of pace is most refreshing and I'd say this is one of the most interesting genre films to come out of Continental Europe during the later 1960's. Seek it out, it's quite rare and worth more than one viewing, and you can't say that for a lot of movies with such a title.
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