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Pier Paolo Capponi
Hans arrives in a town near Amsterdam to write a story on the reclusive sculptor, Professor Val, who lives on an island in the old mill house the locals call the Mill of the Stone Women. Hans meets the professor's beautiful and seductive daughter, and begins feeling passion for her despite his true love for Lisa Lotta. Slowly he becomes aware of the nefarious experiments being conducted by Val and his furtive assistant Dr. Boles, and local women continue to disappear.Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
Most people who write about the 1960 French-Italian coproduction "Mill of the Stone Women" can't seem to resist comparing it, and quite rightly, to "House of Wax" (1953) and "Eyes Without a Face" (1959); I guess I've just done so myself! But "Mill" has a lot more to offer than just a mashup of those two great pictures. In it, handsome Pierre Brice plays Hans van Harnim, a writer in what appears to be late 19th century Holland, who goes to the windmill home of one Prof. Wahl to do a story on his unusual abode and the professor/sculptor's carousel collection of grotesque female statues. What follows, for van Harnim, is quite the nightmarish experience, as he discovers the secrets of both this statuary and Wahl's mysterious daughter, Elfy. While not nearly as classic or seminal as two other horror films that premiered that year--Mario Bava's "Black Sunday" and Uncle Alfie's "Psycho" (then again, how many pictures are?)--"Mill" still manages to provide some shudders. The film begins quite eerily, and its unusual backdrop, that of the misty canal district in Holland's countryside, is a unique one for a horror film. An hallucinatory freakout sequence that transpires roughly halfway in is truly disorienting, before the picture turns to more conventional, albeit still quite fun, mad-scientist fare. The film also gives us handsome sets, nicely muted colors, interesting direction by Giorgio Ferroni, and perhaps the most inspired use of a creepy windmill since Uncle Alfie's "Foreign Correspondent" (1940). And almost stealing the show, in her role as Elfy, is Scilla Gabel, a gorgeous actress with Sophia Loren-type looks and the otherworldly air of the young Barbara Steele. In all, a very fine horror outing, nicely presented on this DVD from the good folks at Mondo Macabro, and with loads of fine extras, to boot.
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