A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant, with only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.
The murder of a wealthy countess, which was erroneously deemed suicide, triggers a chain reaction of brutal killings in the surrounding bay area, as several unscrupulous characters try to take over her large estate.
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
Most of the cast and crew were required to use English pseudonyms because the producers hoped to fool the intended Italian audience into thinking this movie was produced incognito by a British or American studio, such as Hammer Film Productions or American International Pictures. When Mario Bava was asked by Luciano Martino to use "an old American name", he jokingly took the suggestion to a literal degree by creating his alias "John M. Old". 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 »
Christopher Lee plays one of his most scary characters here as Kurt, the black sheep of a family living in one of those numerous scary castles you get in Italy. He's been banished for some time, but the family are still suffering from his antics.
At the request of his father, Lee's brother has now married his old love Navenka, even though he's really in love with his cousin Ida Galli. Even the servants seem to have suffered, with the old maid cursing Lee's name as he seems to have caused her daughter's suicide. She even keeps the dagger her daughter used to kill herself in a jar.
As you would expect, Lee returns from his exile to everyone's horror, and it looks as if he's out to get revenge on the family that hate him until someone sticks a knife through his throat. Death of course is a kind of mild hindrance in a Gothic horror, so shortly afterwards Lee's ghost starts appearing everywhere...so far so normal, right?
It would be your standard Gothic horror if Lee didn't like whipping the crap out of his old girlfriend Daliah Lavi. When he returns he manages to get her down on the beach, and even though she protests, Lee states in his loud Shakespearean voice "Yeah, ya like that, dontcha bitch?" which gives this film a weird S&M flavour way ahead of the pervy excess of Jess Franco.
This being a Mario Bava film the cinematography is probably better than any film of it's time, with every frame looking like some demented oil painting. This just adds to the atmosphere, however, as does Lee's huge, hunky, evil frame.
Bava always found some angle to make his films stand out from others and although I wouldn't put this among my personal favourites of his films, it's another example of him being way ahead of his time, and a true master of Italian cinema.
I would have gone mental at all those muddy footprints everywhere. There's only so much Shake N Vac can do.
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