50 user 68 critic

The Whip and the Body (1963)

La frusta e il corpo (original title)
Not Rated | | Horror, Romance | 10 December 1965 (USA)
The ghost of a sadistic nobleman attempts to rekindle his romance with his terrorized, masochistic former lover, who is unwillingly affianced to his brother.


Mario Bava (as John M. Old)


Ernesto Gastaldi (story and screenplay) (as Julian Berry), Ugo Guerra (story and screenplay) (as Robert Hugo) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Daliah Lavi ... Nevenka
Christopher Lee ... Kurt Menliff
Tony Kendall ... Christian Menliff
Evelyn Stewart ... Katia (as Isli Oberon)
Harriet Medin ... Giorgia (as Harriet White)
Gustavo De Nardo ... Count Vladimir Menliff (as Dean Ardow)
Jacques Herlin ... Priest
Luciano Pigozzi ... Losat (as Alan Collins)


After the announcement of the servant Losat, the nobleman Kurt Menliff returns to the castle of his family at the seaside to congratulate his brother Christian Menliff for his marriage with his former lover Nevenka. Kurt feels the hatred and the fear of his father Count Menliff and the servant Giorgia, who blames him for seducing and killing her daughter, and indifference from his cousin Katia. On the next afternoon, the sadistic Kurt meets Nevenka riding a horse alone on the beach and whips the masochistic woman and makes love with her. Late night, Nevenka is missing and everybody is seeking her while Kurt is stabbed in the neck with the same dagger that Giorgia's daughter was murdered. On the next days, the members of the family suspects of each other while Nevenka is haunted by the ghost of Kurt. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


WHAT is her terrifying secret?? Is she the victim of a madman???? Or a dead man? You must see "WHAT?"! See more »


Horror | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Sir Christopher Lee had hoped to work with Director Mario Bava on another movie, but their busy schedules kept them from working together again. Lee had also heard inaccurate rumors suggesting that Bava's mental health was in decline, and upon seeing A Bay of Blood (1971), he was so disgusted by its violence that he left the theater in protest. See more »


Kurt leaves muddy footprints every time he walks between the house and the crypt yet no one following his footprints ever gets their shoes dirty. See more »


Kurt Menliff: I have never had a warmer welcome.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The version on the US DVD 2000 release from VCI Home Video does not include 2 brief shots:
  • A shot of Christopher Lee riding his horse along the beach at the beginning of the film.
  • A fade to black following Nevenka's journey to a window and her scare from hearing a vine snap against the window.
See more »


Referenced in What's the Movie? (2011) See more »

User Reviews

Christopher Lee raises hell in Bava's baroque horror romance!
6 June 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Mario Bava is often hailed as one of the true gods of horror cinema, and for good reason. His influence extends his filmography, and many Mario Bava films have gone on to have a big effect on the horror genre on the whole. Films such as Bay of Blood and Black Sunday are well known and have been seen by many serious film fanatics, but when you delve deeper into the man's list of directorial credits, his lesser known films tend to be just as good as his major hits. The Whip and the Body is one such film, and after viewing it; I rate it among the very top of the man's movies. This Gothic horror romance features many of Mario Bava's trademarks, which are the things that have won him such high praise from a number of well-informed sources. The story follows Nevenka, a young woman who is married to Christian, son of the lord of the castle in which the film takes place. However, things aren't so simple as Christian's brother, Kurt, a sadistic nobleman is still in love with his brother's bride and has returned to the castle to reclaim his girl. Things really get interesting when he is found dead, only for his ghost to reappear inside the castle walls.

One of things that Mario Bava is often highly praised for is his use of lighting, and this film features what is probably the best use of lighting ever seen in a Bava film. The lights give flair to the scenery, and help to give the film that picturesque cinematography that the former cinematographer creates so well. Despite being excellent, however, it's not the lighting that is the main standout in this movie; it's the soundtrack. Giving the film a tragic love story atmosphere, the powerful theme bodes with the lighting to help create a tense and powerful atmosphere, in which Bava allows his actors to inhabit. This film represents the only pairing of Bava with British horror icon Christopher Lee, and as usual Lee lights up the screen with his persona and screen presence. The whipping scenes are what made this film notorious in the first place, and seeing Lee enjoying delivering the lashing is haunting and even quite frightening! The romance element of the story is wonderfully done, and it offsets the horror of the story well, which ultimately brings the film into balance. I rate this Bava film as one of the best the great Italian ever made and it therefore comes with a soaring recommendation.

14 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 50 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.



Italy | France


Italian | English

Release Date:

10 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

What! See more »

Filming Locations:

Tor Caldara, Lazio, Italy


Box Office


$66,500 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (1964) (cut)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed