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Monday, January 24, 2011

Castle of Blood (1964) - Horror Ghost

Castle of Blood (1964) - Danza Macabra is the Italian name for this very enjoyable ghost story. It is a simple enough story but well executed even though the version I have is a bit of a mess technically. It goes from dubbed to French, go figure?, with English subtitles and dubbing throughout. Some of the early scenes look like a poor quality print was used and the sound is only okay. Still it is very viewable and worth the time.
The basic story is of a reporter, Alan Foster (Georges Riviere) who meets Edgar Allen Poe (Silvano Tranquilli) and his friend Lord Thomas Blackwood (Umberto Raho) in a London pub for an interview. In the conversation Poe expresses his belief in the supernatural, an idea the reporter does not agree with. He takes a bet to stay that very night Nov. 1-2, the Day of the dead in the haunted castle of Lord Blackwood. If he makes it until morning in the castle then he wins. If tragedy strikes him in the night as it has others who have taken this bet in the past then the Lord wins.
So we see the reporter head into the castle on his own, a bit jumpy but showing courage as he creeps through the dark corridors. This is classic horror with strange portraits and a clock that rings but appears to be broken on closer examination. Lit only by a candelabra Foster explores some of the house before being startled by Lord Blackwood's sister Elisabeth (Barbara Steele). They make a quick acquaintance and very soon are a bit taken with each other. They are interrupted by Julia (Margarete Robsahm) and some words pass between she and Elisabeth. Elisabeth is already very possessive of the reporter and tries to warn Julia away while Julia hints at a inevitable unknown (to the audience) fate for him.
When an event happens to confirm to Foster that all the interactions he has had are with ghosts. He is then visited by Dr. Carmus (Arturo Dominici), the ghost of victims past, who explains that on this night he will see the last five minutes of each of the lives of the ghosts. A good part of the movie is then seeing them as they die. No details on this because renting or buying this film is recommended. Let me say though I was surprised a couple times, once with the quite serious lesbian love undertone (overtone) in a 1964 film this was very surprising. Then again with the brief nudity by the incredibly sexy Sylvia Sorrente was not expected.
When the different victim scenes have concluded Foster learns that in order to return the following year the ghost need his blood! So the climax is Foster's fight to get out of the house before the ghosts kill him. The ending is great and is one of the earliest of this type I have seen in my vast horror watching.
This is a very good film, well acted and stylish. The sets have a great sense of depth that is often lacking in horror movies kudos to Cinematographer Riccardo Pallottini. The music is wonderfully done by Riz Ortolani that is clear but not too over the top settling a dramatic scene all by itself. The script is tight and well formed by Sergio Corbucci and Giovanni Grimaldi. I do really recommend this for all lover of horror but particularly for those who have not explored classic foreign horror This is a very fine example of classic horror storytelling executed well



Rating (7.5) 5.0 and up are recommended.

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