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A young man staying at an old windmill-turned-wax museum is seduced by the strange and beautiful young daughter of the man who runs the mill, himself an eccentric old scientist. (is there any other kind?) But he, his daughter, and the family doctor who cares for and loves her, are all hiding a terrible secret...and there's a reason why the wax statues of famous villainous women all look so lifelike! When the pretty, innocent girl from the nearby village, (whom our hero has fallen in love with, despite the best efforts of Creepy Girl) goes mysteriously missing, it's off to the mill to learn the terrible truth!
This is a dreamy, sometimes slow-moving, but never disappointing film which features a great "acid trip" sequence and the surprising nudity of several buxom young hotties. Should not be missed by fans of the colorful Italian, Hammer- esque genre. Wonderfully atmospheric and genuinely creepy. Great stuff!
An evocative, creepy score by Carlo Innocenzi helps director Giorgio Ferroni conjure a work of great atmosphere and intense drama.
As in EYES and Franco's ORLOFF, the subject is a fanatic obsessed with preserving the life of a dearly departed member of his family -- in this case, his daughter Elfi, played by the achingly beautiful and sensual Scilla Gabel.
The setting, a windmill outside Amsterdam, is a superb arena for the fantastic goings-on that provide frisson upon frisson of wonder and dread. The "stone women" of the title are frightening, fascinating figures of fear and are richly employed by Ferroni who demonstrates an acute talent for fantasy.
The superb opening sequence establishes a mood that never falters, and the exciting finale, with the Stone Women ablaze, is pure magic.
A handsomely produced gem.
Journalist Hans (Pierre Brice) comes to the small town of Veeze in order to write a story about the 'Mill Of The Stone Women', a macabre museum in which female statues in morbid situations such as executions are displayed on a mill-wheel. The museum is kept by Professor Wahl (Herbert A.E. Böhme), who keeps his beautiful daughter Elfi (Scilla Gabel) locked in the Windmill. The house is furthermore inhabited by the sinister doctor Bohlem (Wolfgang Preiss)... I don't want to give away too much of the story, but I can assure it gets morbid, haunting and fascinating. The film's visual style and morbid atmosphere often earns it comparisons to Mario Bava's masterpieces. The locations and settings are beautiful and immensely eerie alike and the brilliant camera-work and excellently eerie score contribute a lot to the creepy and unsettling atmosphere. The performances are also very good and the characters are intriguing. I am not a very big fan of Pierre Brice in general (where I live he is mainly known for the incredibly cheesy German Karl May flicks), but he delivers an excellent performance here. The highest praise, however has to go to Herbert A. E. Böhme for his brilliant portrayal of the sinister professor and, especially, to the ravishing Scilla Gabel. Gabel is a stunning beauty and great actress and she delivers a wonderful performance as the mysterious and seductive Elfi Wahl. Wolfgang Preiss is very sinister as the doctor and Dany Carell fits well in her role of the innocent girl. "Mill Of The Stone Women" is an elegant and haunting masterpiece that no lover of Gothic greatness can possibly afford to miss!
Superb Gothic chiller with the most perfect setting, rivaling even castles..I mean, seriously, a windmill which not houses a carnival of exhibits made with sculptures of human victims(..and operating the sculptures which escape from a door bursting forth to often startle the audience, are the gears within the windmill, quite an architectural achievement), but a basement which contains the lab where Bohlem conducts his blood treatments! It's too good to be true, but it is. I'm not sure why others haven't used a windmill more, because the director proves just how wonderful an atmospheric tool it is. I guess it's partly inspired by "Frankenstein", except the director creates inventive ways to use the windmill. But, it seems that(..judging by the climax)that the director doesn't forget where his inspiration come from. The hallucinogenic nightmare sequence is quite a spellbinding experience..we are just as bewildered at what is transpiring as Hans is. Böhme and Preiss are appropriate villains, both desiring Elfie's safety and beauty intact. Böhme has a great devious scene where he hovers over a kidnapped victim tied to a slab about to have her blood drained, promising her situation would be all over soon, carrying a look of mania on his face(..the camera looks upward as he stares directly at us, his eyes wide with madness). I'm not sure why "Mill of the Stone Women" isn't more widely known..I only found out about it through word of mouth. I think this film belongs alongside the great masterworks made by Ferroni's contemporaries in the 60's, Bava, Fisher & Corman. The climax(..the windmill and Gregorius and Elfie's fate)certainly ends in a blaze of glory. "Mill of the Stone Women" is an atmospheric marvel any horror fan with an opportunity to check out.
With a clunky title like "Mill of the Stone Women," it is scarcely any wonder that the film has remained largely unknown,unremarked upon, and unavailable for nearly 50 years ! What a pity, for here is a story produced with such an aesthetically accomplished loving care that each frame breathes a compositional beauty of the highest standard.
The felicitous combination of Arrigo Equini's art direction and Pier Ludovico Pavoni's photography in this picture, recalls the best of Jack Asher, Floyd Crosby, Mario Bava, Bernard Robinson, and Daniel Haller and has, in not a few of the tableaux rendered here, even surpassed these masters. Even Mario Praz would probably approve!
From the opening shot of the windmill on the lake under a leaden sky, to its shadowy, beautifully appointed interior parlors, complete with the anti-heroine, Scilla Gabel, peaking mournfully through the portières--while the soundtrack gives forth with a disquieting numinous wail--the film rarely fails to sound the genuine Gothic note.
Add to that one of the most disturbing, (far more so than "House of Wax") use of a waxworks yet seen on the screen. For here we have, not merely figures of unsettling visage, but figures that mechanically encircle a stage--Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Mary Queen of Scots, sallying threateningly towards the camera in a nightmarish parade--all to the accompaniment of a tune that might have been composed by Truman Capote! There are many exquisite scenes to savor: Miss Scabra's blood red boudoir, a scene of her beneath the lid of a dusty glass coffin holding yellow roses against her very dead, old ivory like complexion, a laboratory sequence that pulls out all the stops, a charming stop at a beer garden type pub, complete with accordions and pretzel stands, a climactic fire with the dummies melting in grotesque close-ups, not to mention a beautifully costumed, very accomplished, and handsome cast of players.
Miss Gabel seems very much in the Gina Lollobrigida mold, but manages facial expressions of such uncanny yearning that is easy to imagine Mr. Brice falling under her spell. In this sense, she joins company with Barbara Steele, as one of the very few women able to combine beauty and eeriness in equal measure.
Pierre Brice approaches his assignment with convincing earnestness and looks very much like a cross between Stephen Boyd and Horst Buchold.
A special compliment should be paid to the Technicolor here, which never shrieks, but delivers cold blues and unearthly reds in a fashion that favorably recalls Pressburger's "Tales of Hoffmann." And take a good look at the hutch in the ante-room of Mr. Brice's bedroom; it is the same one featured in Jacqueline Pierreux's parlor in Bava's "Black Sabbath"--the one she keeps her liquor in. Perhaps Mr. Brice had a yard sale! In any case, to fans of the genre, this film is highly recommended.
- Atmosphere, Atmosphere, Atmosphere. If you're into atmosphere with your horror, look no further than Mill of the Stone Women. Most movies can't claim to have 1/10 of the atmosphere found here. The barren landscape, the isolated windmill, the constant overcast skies, the dark corridors with secret rooms in the windmill, the eerie music, the twisted carousel of death, and the Gothic trappings everywhere you look all add to a movie that just drips with atmosphere. The movie takes it's time and doesn't rush or try to force things. There's a real foreboding sense of unease that runs throughout the movie. There are moments when you might think the atmosphere is going to literally ooze from the screen into your living room.
- Scilla Gabel. Gabel is one of those women of the 60s that I don't think exist anymore. She's from that Sophia Loren - Claudia Cardinale Daliah Lavi mold of women that were a product of that time. She may never be confused with a great actress, but she has a screen presence that's hard to beat.
- Prof. Gregorius Wahl. What a character! Robert Boehme does an excellent job of playing a mad, but goofy, genius. By the end of Mill of the Stone Women, though, it's easy to feel some sympathy for him as his dreams are shattered. It's an excellent piece of acting from a man whose acting credits only include this movie.
- Wooden Shoes. Any movie with people wearing wooden shoes has to get a bonus point from me.
What Doesn't Work:
- Slow Going. For me, this is a plus. But I put it here to warn those who prefer a movie with a killing or explosion every five minutes.
- Love Story. Because Hans represents a new, exciting life, it's easy to see why Elfi might quickly fall for him. And, because Elfi is such a looker, it's easy to see why Hans might be interested in Elfi. But the fact that both are declaring their undying love for each other after one five-minute meeting stretches the imagination quite a bit.
In the end, Mill of the Stone Women is one of the finest examples of a Gothic, atmospheric movie ever made. The film plays like a combination of The House of Wax meets Eyes Without a Face. It's a wonderful movie that I enjoy more each time I get the chance to watch.
The mill at the centre of the piece makes for an excellent location for this story to take place in. Old castles are a more common location for Gothic horror, so the fact that this one takes place in a mill again differentiates it from the norm, and is yet another example of the imagination behind the story. The colour scheme is largely quite drab, and to be honest, I'd have preferred either more striking colours or a black and white picture...as the in-between doesn't look good in my opinion. That's pretty much the only thing I don't like about this film in regards to the style, however. The plot moves slowly, but this means that the film has time to both build up it's plot and wallow in the atmosphere. One of the trademarks of Italian horror is a muddled plot and things that don't completely make sense; and this film adheres to that. There are several threads within the plot, and a number of them are left unexplained by the conclusion...which is a shame. Still, the final conclusion is fitting and at least it doesn't suffer from bad dubbing! Recommended.
The story is set in a remote Dutch village (the land of the windmills!) where Professor Wahl slickly turned his mill into a macabre history museum. He's an artist whose hand-made carousel and sculptures attract many viewers, as also the young journalist Hans. But Wahl simultaneously is a father whose exquisite daughter Elphi suffers from an incurable illness that forces him to keep her hidden in the windmill. When Hans meets Elphi during his stay, Professor Wahl fears that his presence will have a bad influence on her fragile health. Because of all the mystery and Wahl's distant behavior, Hans suspects that he has more hidden secrets than just an ill daughter.... Because of the period of release, the mood and the high-quality level, "Mill of the Stone Women" often gets compared with the repertoire of Mario Bava. I second this statement and believe me that's quite a compliment as I consider Bava the greatest director cinema has ever known. This is a slow-paced masterpiece that makes the most out of its eerie set pieces and isolated locations. The ominous windmill emphases the intriguing Gothic effect terrifically while the use of sound creates a constant disturbance. Rather than to gross you out with immediate gruesomeness or sleaze, the suspenseful plot builds itself up to somewhat expected but still ferocious climax that will be memorized forever by fans of classic horror. I won't spoil the actual finale, but it's not the film's biggest anyway, as it combines the equally brilliant premises of "Mystery of the Wax Musem", "Eyes without a face" and even "Frankenstein". "Mill of the Stone Women" also influenced many (euro)horror films afterwards, like for example Jess Franco's "The Awful Dr. Orloff". And I'm not done yet, since simply every aspect of this film is praiseworthy. The camera-work is stunning and often quite groundbreaking. When it's believed that Hans is hallucinating, the implementation of different shades and rough camera movements increase the confusion-effect. The characters are efficiently spooky! Especially Dr. Bolem (played by Wolfgang "Dr. Mabuse" Preiss) and Professor Wahl (Boehme, who strangely hasn't got any other acting experience) are impressive villains/mad scientists. "Mill of the Stone Women" is essential viewing for Mario Bava fanatics and any other genre fan who appreciates a solid goth-horror monument.
Made at the same time as Bava's "Black Sunday", Ferroni's "Mill" relies on and succeeds at it's goal for the same reasons- Atmosphere in abundance and true artistic flair. Every inch of the windmill is ominous and each room (and there are many) has its own distinct feel, lighting, and color palette. With this strong foundation in place, the movie builds in the details, including a wild hallucination scene, the actual workings of the carousel, a daughter who appeared very dead but is soon quite fine, and many others.
Despite being a visual feast, well acted, and having a solid (if not overly original) plot line, the movie still suffers from a sizable problem- Pacing. As a die-hard fan of '60's horror, I have no beef with a deliberate build-up, but in this case it goes a bit overboard. There are a fair share of scenes that are filled with stretches of unnecessary dialog and lots of wandering around the mill with no real reason to be found at the end. Tighter editing would have helped immensely.
Flaws and all, "Mill Of The Stone Women" is a classy film that needs to be seen. Had I watched it just once, I have little doubt my rating would have been higher. Give it a one-time viewing and absorb it for maximum effect.
The plot itself, when it comes down to it, is nothing particularly new. The idea of a doctor forced to kill young women to sustain the life of his ill daughter was very popular in the period this was made, and variations on the theme can be seen in many other horror films like Freda's THE VAMPIRES, ATOM AGE VAMPIRE, THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF, and even the French classic EYES WITHOUT A FACE. Mixed in with this plot (which incidentally only comes to the fore in the final third of the movie, the beginning is just atmosphere-building and mysteries with no real answers) are some genuinely macabre HOUSE OF WAX-style shenanigans, involving the bodies of the dead being turned to stone and displayed on the carousel, the creaky contraption which is the film's focus point and a highly effective image of horror.
Cast-wise, the film benefits from the presence of the creepy actor Robert Boehme as the professor. Boehme puts in a restrained and ultimately sympathetic performance here but he's still pretty chilling. Also effective is the German Wolfgang Priess (he of the '60s Mabuse films) as a sinister doctor living in the windmill; he doesn't have much to do until the end, in which his part in the horror and his explanations for his actions finally come out, but his role helps bolster the movie and he has some interesting exchanges with Boehme (usually the roles of the two men are combined into one in these sort of films). The actresses don't really have much to work with, especially Dany Carrel whose sole presence is to provide a female victim for the finale, and Scilla Gabel's role as the diseased daughter is seriously underdeveloped. Ultimately the film's biggest failing in the cast is Pierre Brice's turn as the hero, Hans von Arnam; Brice is wooden and uninteresting and seemingly unable to carry a lead by himself.
MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN really does pick up for the predictably fiery conclusion, which has some great action, but director Giorgio Ferroni really needs to learn a thing or two about pacing as the first hour of this film is a long haul and lacking in incident. Compare this to a similarly-themed film like Freda's THE TERRIBLE SECRET OF DR. HICHCOCK, which expertly racks up the tension and suspense for the first hour, and its clear that MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN needs more of that suspense and build-up. The atmosphere is perfect, yes, but something is missing. Don't get me wrong, however; this is still a perfectly watchable (if only a little flawed) Gothic horror film with spot-on visuals and sets, and worth tracking down for fans of horror from the period.
If you're a big enough horror fan to have heard of this movie, you'll probably like it. It's a slow-paced Gothic piece, in the same tradition as the British Hammer movies. It even has the standard cast of characters for a Gothic horror - a sinister doctor, a corrupt professor, an earnest young man, a sexy mystery woman, and a wholesomely pretty nice woman. This kind of stuff is so familiar to me at this point that it feels like a comfy old security blanket.
The best part of the film is the first half, when the goings-on at the mill are still cryptic and unexplained. The second half gets a little predictable and lurid, and there are a few too many scenes of women getting strapped to tables and menaced with needles. Dare I say this kind of stuff is sexist? Erotic, sure, but also sexist. And, in a very strange and somewhat disappointing twist, the villains pretty much defeat themselves!
Despite my reservations, this is still a decent film, thanks to some atmospheric sets and unusual ideas. As I said, if you're enough of a horror buff to have heard about it, you should definitely check it out.
A joint French/Italian production and the two countries offer us a beauty each, although it has to be said that the Italian Scilla Gabel would take a little beating whatever the opposition!
Something of a mix of Frankenstein and House of Wax in the end but this is not apparent at first and with all the creepy Dutch landscape and creaky mill we are at first led to think more of vampires.
Colourful, surprisingly graphic and all in all a very interesting discovery.
Director Giorgio Ferroni relates the absorbing story at a hypnotically deliberate pace, does an expert job of crafting and sustaining a potently brooding gloom-doom Gothic atmosphere, offers a flavorsome evocation of the 19th century village setting, and pulls out the rousing and marvelously macabre stops for the exciting fiery climax. Moreover, the filmmakers warrant extra praise for depicting Wahl as a fairly pitiable and ultimately tragic individual instead of making him some one-dimensional baddie: One might not agree with what Wahl is doing, but one still understands why he's committing these wicked acts and hence feels more than a little sorry for the guy. The captivating presences of several fetching femmes certainly doesn't hurt matters in the least: Stunning brunette Scilla Gabel as the fragile and sheltered Elfie, lovely Dany Carrel as the sweet Lisolette Kornheim, and ravishing redhead Liana Orfei as ill-fated model Annelore. Gorgeously shot in glorious Technicolor by Pier Ludovico Pavoni, further graced by a shivery score by Carlo Innocenzi, it's recommended viewing for fans of moody fright fare.
This movie is more of a mystery than horror - but believe me there is enough horror in the film to enjoy. The movie has enough suspenseful twists and turns to keep it very interesting.
Just like other reviewers have mentioned, it is a pseudo-Gothic movie. If you like Gothic films, wax museum horror and mystery classics then you just might like Mill of the Stone Women (1960).
It tells the story of a young man who is set to work on a macabre waxwork laden carousel. He becomes bewitched by the mysterious daughter of the owner, but nothing is quite as it seems.
Italian made the film looks incredibly ahead of its time. Sure the acting is offensively overdone, the score is forgettable and the external sfx of the windmill are laughable but the concept itself and delivery is really quite impressive.
Italy dominated horror throughout the 60's and 70's, this early title is a demonstration of why. Yes it's flawed (Badly in places) but it's an interesting little title regardless with a brilliant dark finale.
Could have been constructed a tad better
Things I Learnt From This Movie:
She totally got a head of herself!
Waxworks were a common subject matter in the 50-60's, we need a revival!