The journalist Alan Foster makes a bet than he can spend one night at the haunted Blackwood Castle. As he learns, the rumors of ghosts at the castle are indeed true. On All Soul's Eve the ... See full summary »
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The journalist Alan Foster makes a bet than he can spend one night at the haunted Blackwood Castle. As he learns, the rumors of ghosts at the castle are indeed true. On All Soul's Eve the ghosts of the castle search for blood to tide them over for another year. In the castle Foster meet and fall in love with Elizabeth Blackwood. Written by
Although advertised as being "based on the story Night of the Living Dead by Edgar Allan Poe", there is no such actual story by Edgar Allan Poe concerning the events in the film. Like the classic The Black Cat (1934) with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, this film (and 1964's Castle of Blood (1964)), scriptwriters Bruno Corbucci and Giovanni Grimaldi drew from Poe's literary traditions rather than a specific text. The most direct use of Poe's writings was the presence of an actor playing the writer and having him recite one of Poe's actual stories - specifically, the short verse "Berenice". But there is no story called "Night of the Living Dead" by Poe, and no story relating the events shown in either film version. See more »
Nowhere Near as Great as "Danza Macabra", but still Atmospheric Gothic Horror
Right after Mario Bava, the late Antonio Margheriti was arguably the second-greatest Italian Gothic Horror director, his doubtlessly most ingenious work being the 1964 masterpiece "Danza Macabra" (aka. "Castle of Blood") starring the one and only Barbara Steele. "Danza Macabra" easily ranks among the most brilliant and fascinating Gothic Horror films ever made, and I was therefore sceptical about this "Nella stretta morsa del ragno" aka. "In the Grip of the Spider" (1971), a remake which Margheriti made of his own film only seven years later. While "In the Grip of the Spider" does in no way equal (or even come close to) the greatness of "Danza Macabra", however, it is nonetheless an atmospheric, creepy and highly entertaining film that every fellow fan of Italian Gothic Horror should enjoy.
The storyline is more or less the same as in "Danza Macabra": When interviewing Edgar Allan Poe (Klaus Kinski), a journalist Alan Foster (Anthony Franciosa) makes a bet with a sinister count. Foster has to spend a night alone in the count's eerie, presumably haunted mansion. When the first after his arrival is the beautiful Elisabeth Blackwood (Michèle Mercier), Foster does not foresee the horrors that he is about to experience... Anthony Franciosa is always great, most fellow Italian Horror fans will agree that he had his greatest moment in Dario Argento's "Tenebre" (1982); and who would not love a film that begins with the credits: "Klaus Kinski as Edgar Allan Poe"? Michèle Mercier is a beauty, but she is no Barbara Steele. Barbara Steele is my all-time favorite actress and her mere appearance is such an enrichment to all the great Gothic gems she has starred in that a remake with someone else in her role is most likely to disappoint. She is dearly missed in this one, even though Miss Mercier is in no way bad. "Danza Macabra" is one of the most atmospheric and eerily beautiful Horror films ever made. "In the Grip of the Spider" can not compete with the wonderful mood of the original, even though the film is nicely filmed in cool, eerie settings. It really is a blast to see Klaus Kinski play Edgar Allan Poe, however. While the film mostly keeps the storyline of "Danza Macabra", Margheriti added a long opening sequence which consists mainly of Kinski wandering through eerie tombs in search of a grave. Before seeing this, I expected it to be more exploitative than "Danza Macabra", but the film is actually quite low on sleaze and violence. Overall, "In the Grip of the Spider" is nowhere near as brilliant as "Danza Macabra", but it is definitely still atmospheric, creepy and vastly enjoyable Gothic Horror. My fellow Italian Horror buffs can definitely give this a try, but should make sure to see "Danza Macabra" first.
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