Archaeologists investigating some Mayan ruins come across a blob-like monster. They manage to destroy it with fire, but keep a sample. Meanwhile, a comet is due to pass close to the Earth -... See full summary »
In Paris, France, a crazed duchess, obsessed with retaining her youth, has her scientist lover kill various women and draining their blood for her use while a smug journalist seeks out leads for the so-called 'vampire murders' and links a local drug addict to the case whom is connected to the mad scientist.Written by
This one mainly works because of the amazing set direction and Gothic spaces. As it gets going it feels like a typical 1940s style murder mystery, with young women having gone missing, but hardly a horror movie at all. But when another girl disappears the search leads to an empty apartment building and then to the castle of a certain Countess du Grand, who happens to be enamored of the lead detective on the case. Though the castle appears to be of evil repute, the countess attracts guests to a ball, and the affections of another reporter. She is a mysterious figure, living in adulation of a portrait of the reporter's father, playing antique record players. The castle sets are stunning productions, drawing one into the horror that sustains her beauty (a storyline explored further in Eyes Without A Face, The Awful Dr Orloff, The Faceless Monster, Mill of the Stone Woman and Countess Dracula) . The movie literally gets gobbled up by the Gothic atmosphere of the castle, with its incredible gargoyles, elaborately Gothic crypt, secret passages, baroque cobwebs, pillars marked with demonic images, and a Sleeping Beauty tangle of vines on the grounds. The reliance on scenery alone to communicate a descent into a sadistic unconscious reminds one of Cocteaus Beauty and the Beast though the strategy was tried too in 40s Hollywood. When at last the mystery is discovered, here too the special effects are quite well done. Mario Bava was involved in the photography, just testing his fogbound vision of Gothic mystery, and it shows. After starting out all cops and robbers, this one ends up with a completely satisfying expression of pure demented horror.
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