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Friday, November 5, 2010

Nightmare Castle (1965) - Horror Ghost

Nightmare Castle (1965) - Amanti d'oltretomba is an Italian made ghost revenge story with the wonderful Barbara Steele in the lead as both Muriel Arrowsmith and later her sister Jenny. In this film Muriel who is married to Dr. Steven Arrowsmith (Paul Muller) but is having an affair with the stable guy David (Rik Battaglia). When Steven discovers them things go horribly wrong. There is this great scene where Stephen is pretending to go on a business trip and leaves the house. Muriel has a unique way of letting David no the coast is clear, she plays a particular song on the piano. This song becomes a theme in the film, the music by Ennio Morricone is excellent. A prolific and I can say famous movie composer Morricone is known for other features such as, "A Fistful of Dollars", " The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", "L 'anticristo", "Exorcist II: The Heretic", "The Mission", and "The Untouchables". Here the music is just so well done and ties a "not the best film" together smoothly.

So Muriel and David go to the green house for a bit of hanky panky until confronted by Steven who circled back to the house. Steven knocks them out and when they wake they are chained to a wall. The sadistic husband tortures them some talking about how they will pay for a long time for the disloyalty. We learn she is the one in the family with money and she tells him she changed her will so her sister is her heir instead of him. Steven not to be persuaded attempts to bargain with her but she will never agree. There is nothing left to do but torture the two to death. Did I mention he is a sadistic bastard. He sure is with his acid drips and electric beds. So Muriel is dead and you will be thinking boy he just screwed himself. Strangely although later it makes sense he takes the hearts of the two and puts them away in his lab for safe keeping.

He set up catching them with the help of the old maid Solange (Helga Line) and his plan with her was to give her youth again and fuck her I think. Or was it to fuck her and give her youth again. He is a scientist after all and that is what they do. Anyway they together have a plan to use the sister, drive her insane or get her to give up her fortune to them. The sister has been under the care of a doctor and so they think these things are possible. Steven goes to fetch her from the asylum.

Muriel is cremated and become potting soil for a plant, I am not sure what happened to David. When Steven and Jenny arrive it is again Barbara Steele this time as a blond. Solange is still the maid but much younger and more attractive. To her surprise, Steven has found a way to get what he wants. He married Jenny before returning. Since we do not really know how much time has passed or how the authorities let it be that Muriel is dead, we just have to accept that this is all okay. It is just how it is.
Steven now has the plan to make his new wife insane by slowly loosening her mind with some sort of drug he is going to drop in her drinks. When she is committed he will have control of her money and the now young Solange to screw every night, seems like a plan.

Then the movie leaves us thinking, Jenny has some strange experiences and we are left to decide what is going on. Are the drugs she is being given making her hallucinate? Is there a ghost in the house trying to warn her of something? or Is Steven setting up some stuff to drive her to crazy a bit faster.We can eliminate the last thing soon enough when Jenny finds Muriel's Music, she starts to play and suddenly she is playing as if she knows it by heart. On top of that she is drinking alcohol, the same kind her sister liked. She seems to be possessed. Solange and Steven in the other room get suspicious when the playing stops and go looking for her. Her scream brings them to the cellars where she faints in front of them. So their plan is working and since they did not see her in the possessed state they believe the drugs are doing the job. She can't remember anything from the incident and Steven reassures her there are no spirits in the house.
He invites her doctor to the house to hopefully get her committed as soon as possible. Dr Dereck Joyce (Lawrence Clift) works with her trying to get her to remember things only Muriel would know. She remembers in the greenhouse the scene of Muriel and David in the beginning of the film.
When Jenny again hears the beating heart before an episode she won't remember. Good thing too because she so comes on to Derek. Meanwhile we learn that the work Steven is doing in his lab has to do with keeping Solange young by transfusing her with his former wife's blood. But it is not working as long as it did before and the maid wants Jenny's blood for the procedure. Not wanting to give too much more of the film away from here it really does turn into a ghost story. The Spirits of the dead and the tell-tale hearts kept in the lab do their best to foil the plans of the evil doers. There are some really decent special effects for such an old film and the outcome was satisfying enough.
Rating (5.8) 5.0 and up are recommended, in the Zombiegrrlz rating system I say Rent it!

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