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
This is one of the few European films Christopher Lee made without providing his voice for any of its language tracks, as he had returned home to Switzerland by the time shooting wrapped (as a result, he is dubbed in the English version by American actor Dan Sturkie). He would quickly regret not dubbing his voice for this film, as he considered it to be the best of his European films, and ensured that he provided his voice for at least the English versions of all of his later films. See more »
Lashings of great visuals but Bava is flogging a dead horse.
Sadistic scoundrel Kurt (Christopher lee), black sheep of the family, returns home to find that absence hasn't exactly made the heart grow fonder: his father (Gustavo De Nardo), brother Christian (Tony Kendall), ex-lover Nevenka (Daliah Lavi) and housemaid Giorgia (Harriet Medin) still find him utterly loathsome. Unsurprisingly, Kurt winds up being murdered, but even death cannot stop his cruelty...
In keeping with its Sadean theme, The Whip and the Body is both a pleasure to behold and a pain to endure: aesthetically, the film cannot be rivalled, with excellent costume and set design, and exquisite direction from Mario Bava, whose camera glides gracefully through pools of coloured light and ominous swathes of shadow to great effect; the story, however, is less impressive, a trite exercise in Gothic cliché, replete with a creepy cliff-top castle continually battered by strong winds and thunderstorms, a raft of morbid characters, all of whom harbour dark secrets, loads of tiresome symbolism, and some ridiculous psychological claptrap.
The sado-masochistic nature of the central relationship between Kurt and Navenka (which is surprisingly way ahead of its time) prevents the film from attaining coma-inducing levels, but with extremely long periods where nothing much of interest happens, the film is far from the perfect perverted and poetic love story that its ardent supporters claim it to be.
8 out of 10 for the lovely imagery, but 4/10 for the story—so that's an average rating of 6/10.
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