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  • Irresistible and genuine Gothic scares, combined with atmospheric camera-work and breath-taking scenery… Welcome to yet another visual masterpiece directed by the greatest horror genius of all time: Mario Bava! "The Whip and the Body" isn't the man's most mentioned achievement, it's not even in my personal Bava-top 3 and yet I still rated it a solid 9 out of 10. That should give you somewhat an idea of how excellent his total repertoire in fact is. "The Whip and the Body" is a unique film in many ways, but particularly because of the controversial substance it dared to bring forward. Don't forget that the year of release was 1963 and Mario Bava unscrupulously introduces characters with taboo-fetishes like S & M. The story is terrifically set in the 19th century, where Kurt Menliff returns to his eminent family after being banished for several years. The family's hate towards Kurt's vile behavior is only surpassed by their fear and only the gorgeous Nevenka has a secret desire towards his wicked sexual preferences. In a particularly astonishing sequence, he whips her repeatedly (and roughly...) before continuing with making love. Terror overcomes the Menliff family when Kurt is found murdered in his room and when the tormented Nevenka begins to see his appearance in nearly every chamber of the castle. As it usually is the case in Bava's films, the plot contains quite a few holes and illogical moments, but they're totally forgivable if you acknowledge the intensity and power of the wholesome. Especially praiseworthy is Mario Bava's unequaled talent to turn totally natural things into terrifying atmosphere-elements… Blowing wind, pouring rain, footprints covered in mud...all these ordinary things turn into suspicious omens in the hands of this masterful filmmaker. With his skilled cinematographic eye, Bava perfectly knows how to raise an unbearable tension that grabs you by the neck immediately and it doesn't let go until the very last scene fades away. All the other typical Bava-trademarks are clearly present as well, namely an authentically creepy score, a minimum of stylish gore (burning, rotting corpses!!) and – last but not least – a stunning use of color shades. Mario plays with colors like he invented them and this emphasizes the spook-effect even more. "The Whip and the Body" is a more than just a shocking horror film. It's an offbeat love-story, a Gothic poem AND an unsettling horror tale all in one! If you love beautiful cinema, don't miss "The Whip and the Body".
  • La Frusta E Il Corpo/The Whip & The Body(1963) is an excellent gothic masterpiece that was ahead of its time in 1963 due to the strong imagery of erotic violence. Christopher Lee plays his most evil and sadistic character up to date(I have not seen his film, The Bloody Judge(1969)). His performance proves that he had an awesome presence within him. One theme that regularly occurs in many of Bava's films is the notion of the double that is present in movies like The Mask of Satan(1960), Kill Baby Kill(1967), and The Hatchet for the Honeymoon(1969). This is a great film that is overlooked by many Mario Bava supporters as it is also his best. The best parts of the film was the use of color and how he utizied color in the beautiful film. This movie is one that hopefully in the near future will get the video treatment that it deserves.
  • Kurt Menliff (Cristopher Lee) returns home to his ancestral castle which he was forced to leave after he whipped a village girl nearly to death. He finds that his fiance (Daliah Lavi) has married his brother, as well as having become the mistress of his father. (Don't panic, there's worse to come). He follows her to the beach and whips her savagely. She loves it and they end the session making love. The next day Kurt is found dead and Daliah soon begins experiencing nightly flagellations at the hands of his ghost. Christopher Lee has stated that this is one of his best films. It is certainly one of the most brilliantly bizarre horror films ever made. Directed by cult icon Mario Bava, Italy's finest cinematographer (if not one of their finest directors), it rises as far above an S & M fantasy as can be imagined. It was censored in every country in the world for its sexual violence and what remained was almost incoherent for most audiences and re-released under various titles: WHAT! in the US; NIGHT IS THE PHANTOM in the UK, etc. Until video (with somewhat faded color) it was impossible to see in its original form. Even now it remains a profoundly misunderstood film and should be seen in a theater in its complete form instead of on video.

  • After the announcement of the servant Losat (Alan Collins), the nobleman Kurt Menliff (Christopher Lee) returns to the castle of his family at the seaside to congratulate his brother Christian Menliff (Tony Kendall) for his marriage with his former lover Nevenka (Daliah Lavi). Kurt feels the hatred and the fear of his father Count Menliff (Dean Ardow) and the servant Giorgia (Harriet White), who blames him for seducing and killing her daughter, and indifference from his cousin Katia (Isli Oberon). 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.

    "The Whip and the Body" is a stylish and one of the best features of Mario Bava that uses a magnificent cinematography, lighting and shadows and a classy soundtrack. The acting is great and the only problem is that the Ámerican DVD is awfully dubbed in English, without the synchrony of the movements of the lips with the speech. However, I have just watched this movie again in a Brazilian DVD spoken in Italian. The truth about the supernatural story is not difficult to be guessed what is happening by an attentive viewer. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "O Chicote e o Corpo" ("The Whip and the Body")

    Note: On 01 October 2014 I saw this movie again.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Made around the same time as Mario's classic horror anthology BLACK SABBATH, this deserves the same accolades as his other more famous work. Upon release, WHIP was unfairly neglected, hacked up, censored and critically frowned upon for the subject matter (sexual violence). Next to RABID DOGS (1974), it was also the most difficult of Bava's genre films to acquire in America; I'm not even aware of an accessible home video release until just recently. All but forgotten for decades, but now finally available in a gorgeous restored cut on DVD from Sinister Cinema, WHIP is an absolute must see for Bava fans and very highly recommended for aficionados of Gothic horror. It is also a film that demands to be seen by any person interested in film-making as art - in set design, costume design, lighting schemes, color, shadow and music used for the creation of atmosphere and mood. Every single frame is composed with the utmost care and every inch of the screen exhibits such astonishing attention to detail that it almost begs to be watched in slow motion to soak it all in. Bava is a rare cinematic artist; a true visionary who uses celluloid as his palate; painting all the colors of the dark on drab, dank and dreary castle walls and corridors. Even though the story slips into the routine at times, it also is above average; progressive, serious, entertaining and even extremely ballsy for the 1960s in that it dares to romanticize sexual violence and sadomasochism.

    Christopher Lee (who considers this one of his best films) is perfectly hateful as Kurt Menliff, a cold-eyed sadist who returns home to his family's seaside castle after being banished years earlier. His ailing father (Gustavo De Nardo as "Dean Ardow") calls him a serpent, his brother Christian (Tony Kendall aka Luciano Stella) has since married Kurt's beautiful raven-haired ex-fiancé Nevenka (Daliah Lavi) and the loyal housekeeper Giorgia (Harriet Medin), whose daughter, Tanya, had taken her own life after being seduced and abandoned by Kurt, quietly plots her revenge. Also in the house is a pretty, but plain, young cousin named Katya (Ida Galli as "Isli Oberon"), who is actually in love with Christian and would undoubtedly make a much better mate for him. No one exactly welcomes Kurt home with open arms, so when he's found dead with a dagger driven into his neck (the same fashion Tanya ended her life) it isn't a surprise, though it does create a shroud of suspicion over every person in the castle. Even worse, Kurt seems to have returned from the dead to haunt, terrorize and inflict damage via the lash on poor, emotionally fragile Nevenka.

    The most interesting and complex character in the film turns out to be Nevenka herself. Her love-hate relationship with Kurt is unique and memorable. Though Christian is handsome, gentle and devoted to his bride, she obviously has the strongest passion (and love) for the cruel Kurt, who claims the reason he came back to the castle in the first place was that he heard his brother had married his former lover. Kurt's return has nothing to do with guilt over his immoral actions, but everything to do with control over Nevenka. It is made very clear during a beach love scene right before Kurt is murdered that the two do share a deep personal bond and a sexual secret. Right before his death, Nevenka is reminded by her former lover, "You haven't changed... You always loved violence!" before he alternates viciously whipping her with his passionate kisses. And she likes it so much you get the strong feeling that her 'straight' life with Christian was miserable for her. Kurt and Nevenka's love is a love of pain and mutual violence, but also of understanding that their mutual love for the sadism is a hard thing to come by. Their love is forbidden, but it is still distinctly, uniquely theirs... even into the grave.

    As he proved in THE HORROR OF Dracula (1958) and other horror films, Lee is a tall, towering, menacing figure, even when given little to no dialog. He's killed off fairly early here and appears sporadically throughout the film as a silent 'ghost,' but is all the more effective in his elusiveness. Dark beauty Daliah Lavi, who was a former Miss Iran, is excellent in the role and should have gone on to a career similar to that of Barbara Steele, who in many ways she resembles. Both ladies are able to embody Gothic horror to a T. The entire supporting cast, especially Medin, is very good. And Bava's mastery of the medium, like I said, really make the film incomparably intoxicating. He offers up twisting doorknobs, disembodied voices, creaking floorboards, secret passageways, muddy footprints, hands reaching out at you from the darkness, horse rides along the beach and other Gothic trappings with his exquisite flair for the visual, making this a painfully underrated gem of Euro-shock cinema.

    Some notes: * Bava used aliases all around - "John M. Old" for director and "Dick Grey" and "David Hamilton" for his cinematography. * A scene of Lavi moaning in ecstasy as she's being whipped by Lee was so controversial that it was excised from most prints when originally released * It was filmed on location in France * Co-writer Ernesto Gastaldi also wrote THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK, THE SCORPION'S TAIL, TORSO and many other notable Italian horror films from the 60s, 70s and 80s. The DVD comes with a few trailers for Bava films (including the French version of WHIP), four bios, photo and lobby card gallery, soundtrack access and the original U.S. main titles (under the name WHAT!).
  • Whip and the Body, The (1963)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Christopher Lee plays a sadistic nobleman who returns home to terrorize his family after leaving home years earlier after forcing his girlfriend to commit suicide. Soon he is found dead with his throat slit and soon after he ghost begins to appear as more bodies start to pile up. All the praise thrown on director Bava is certainly needed because it's obvious he could take some mud and make it look wonderful but that doesn't mean all his films turn out great. I think the biggest flaw with this film is the rather weak story, which doesn't really contain any shocks and it's fairly simple to figure out what's going on so in the end, when the climax happens, there's no real shocks. Christopher Lee turns in a terrific performance, even though, for some reason, his voice is dubbed in the English language version. That fantastic look that Lee brings says all we need to know about his character. The supporting cast isn't as impressive but they fit their roles just fine. The cinematography is top notch and the use of lighting is also what makes this film stand apart from others in this era.
  • This unrelentingly-creepy tale of obsession and perversion plays like a more-horrific version of _Wuthering Heights_: cobwebbed crypts, dark castles with secret passages, rotting bodies, muddy footprints, pale faces scowling through windows, love-hate relationships that continue beyond the grave, sea cliffs, turbulent ocean, sunsets, and a very haunting music score. The sets are rich and the direction is moody, with lots of brilliantly-composed photography and a convincingly-cruel performance by Christopher Lee. This one does require some patience, but it's one of Bava's greatest masterpieces and deserves to be saved from obscurity.
  • 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.
  • As I slowly get to watch more Mario Bava movies my enthusiasm for his extraordinary body of work grows and grows. I was already hooked after watching 'Black Sunday' for the first time, but after subsequently seeing 'Kill, Baby...Kill!', 'Planet Of The Vampires', 'Black Sabbath', 'Diabolik' and 'Lisa And The Devil' (and others) I was convinced that he's THE most underrated director of the Fantastic. Now I've watched 'The Whip And The Body' three times and listened to Tim Lucas' informative DVD commentary I'm almost ready to bow down and worship Bava like a god! This is such a fascinating movie... Visually it's stunning, as to be expected, Bava being a top cinematographer before turning to directing. The subject matter is still provocative, but forty years ago it must have been scandalous! In fact the movie was heavily censored and when eventually released in America given the lousy title 'What'. Christopher Lee counts this among his favourite roles and it is essential viewing for his fans. He plays Kurt Menliff, an evil sadistic nobleman returning to his family home after hearing his younger brother has wed. Lee's family has disowned him after a scandal concerning a servant girl he seduced who subsequently suicided. His father the Count despises him, the dead girl's mother, who still works for the Count, curses him, and his brother's new bride Nevenka (Daliah Lavi) fears him. Kurt and Nevenka have a past, not only that, a complicated sadomasochistic relationship. The whipping scenes between the two actors were a bit too much for the censors to handle back in the day, and while they aren't all that explicit, they are still unsettling even today. Lee and the stunning Lavi (best know to most people for her later appearance in the star-studded Bond spoof 'Casino Royale') make a truly unforgettable couple. Many people regard 'The Whip And The Body' as Bava's single best movie. I wouldn't go that far myself, but it's definitely one of his very best films, and is sure to impress anyone who has enjoyed his other pictures. Ghost story, murder mystery, psychosexual character study, whatever you want to call it, it's a highly original movie that will stay with you for a long time. Newcomers to Bava are still best to start with 'Black Sunday' in my opinion, but this movie comes with my highest recommendation.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Cruel and sadistic nobleman Kurt Menliff returns to his swanky seaside family estate after years of traveling abroad. The vile, yet charismatic Kurt gets his sick kicks mistreating the ladies. The lusty and passionate Nevenka (a superb performance by the ravishing Daliah Lavi) in particular enjoys Kurt's rough-house ways. Kurt gets killed, but his ghost returns to haunt the castle. Director Mario Bava, working from a bold and intriguing script by Ernesto Gastaldi, Ugo Guerra, and Luciano Martino, does his customary aces job of creating and maintaining a beautifully eerie and brooding gloom-doom Gothic atmosphere while relating the compelling story at a slow, yet steady pace. The creepy and mysterious tone keeps you guessing to the very end what's really going on. Moreover, Bava deserves credit for handling the kinky subject of S&M in a classy and tasteful manner. Of course, the visuals are stunning throughout, with the sumptuous use of the vibrant Technicolor format and the opulent sets both vividly shot by cinematographer Ubaldo Terzano. This film further benefits from capable acting from the sturdy cast, with especially praiseworthy work by Ida Galli as the regal Katia, Harriet Medin as bitter, vengeful housekeeper Georgia, and Luciano Pigozzi as crippled, limping servant Losat. Only Tony Kendall's hopelessly wooden acting as the loyal Christian Menliff and the fact that Lee's distinctive voice is dubbed by another actor detract a little from this otherwise excellent and highly recommended movie.
  • With Italy being my favorite Horror-producing country, and Gothic Tales and Gialli my favorite sub-genres, it is not surprising that I regard Italian Horror-pioneer Mario Bava, sublime master of the first- and inventor of the second category, as one of the greatest geniuses in the history of Motion Pictures. Unlike any other Horror director, Bava made most of his films so ingeniously that it is very hard to name favorites, simply due to the fact that this great man's repertoire includes so many flawless masterpieces. Bava's doubtlessly most brilliant film is the 1960 masterpiece "La Maschera Del Demonio" (aka. "Black Sunday"), which is, as far as I am concerned, one of the greatest films ever made, but the man created several other flawless films that no Horror lover or even cinema-fan in general could afford to miss. Such as this overwhelming film, for example. In 1963, the same year in which he invented the Giallo-sub-genre with his milestone "La Ragazza Che Sappeva Troppo" and furthermore created the arguably most memorable Horror omnibus ever with "I Tre Volti Della Paura", Bava also brought us this wonderful Gothic gem named "La Frusta E Il Corpo" (aka. "The Whip And The Body"), a film which perfectly illustrates what a brilliant director he was. "The Whip And The Body" is the absolute proof that, unlike any other director, Mario Bava had a unique talent of combining beauty and terror in a most mesmerizing manner. The need of a a high quality copy is something i seldom find essential, and yet I would highly recommend to watch "La Frusta E Il Corpo" in the highest possible quality. Whenever using the pause-button on the remote control, one has the impression of looking at a beautifully haunting painting. This is no exaggeration, but merely the only proper description of how visually overwhelming this dream-like Gothic masterpiece is.

    Horror-icon Christopher Lee, as far as I am concerned one of the greatest actors ever, gives a brilliant performance as one of his most haunting and sardonic characters here. The ravishing Daliah Lavi is as stunningly beautiful as the film itself, and she also delivers a stunning performance in the female lead. The supporting performances are also great, the cast includes Italian genre-regulars as Tony Kendall and Ida Galli. I will not give a long plot description as everybody should be capable of drifting into the dreamlike Horrors of Castle Menliff on their own. I do want to say though, that "The Whip And The Body" is a unique and fascinating mix of Gothic Horror and S&M love-story. The eerie castle is the perfect setting for this wonderful film, which takes place in the early 19th century. The brilliant score is as mesmerizing and hauntingly beautiful as the film's visual style - "The Whip And The Body" simply is a film that overwhelms all senses a film possibly can. This was originally intended to resemble the story of Roger Corman's 1961 masterpiece "The Pit And The Pendulum" (another favorite of mine), but it turned out entirely different, the brilliant Gothic eeriness, castle setting and great acting being the only mutual elements. Mario Bava created many masterpieces in his impressive career, and all of them have something particularly essential about them. "La Frusta E Il Corpo" is a film that shows this man's unique talent for atmosphere and the combination of the beautiful and the uncanny. This is one of the most visually overwhelming Horror films ever made, and easily deserves the highest rating of 10/10!
  • Bezenby10 November 2017
    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 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's pretty clear that director Mario Bava took a leaf from Roger Corman's Edgar Allan Poe films, for Corman's Gothic look is faithfully replicated in a shimmering and lushly coloured period piece. There are some similarities of plot, too - particularly from Pit And The Pendulum. It's mostly left up to the viewer to decide if the return from the grave of Christopher Lee's Byronic villain is just in Nevenka's imagination or real. The end could be read as her lapsing into madness - or is she really possessed?

    Daliah Lavi plays Nevenka, whipped and seduced by Lee's Kurt, and possibly then haunted by him after he has been stabbed. Lavi is superb - just as she was in The Demon, an Italian pre-Exorcist movie about an exorcism which actually has a "Spider Walk". Lavi is astonishing in that movie and she's just as good here. Lee's greenish and ghostly appearance at a window, appears to have been modelled on Peter Wygarde's in The Innocents, but this stately Gothic hangs together extremely well. Bava directs with a moody and atmospheric hand, and the film is beautifully lit.

    I avoided seeing this for a while as I assumed it was an over the top S&M flick. Glad to discover I was wrong! Yep there are a couple of flagellation scenes, but these too, are somewhat poetically handled. I watched the English dubbed version, so I don't know if the original Italian film is more graphic.

    I enjoyed this movie; it's slightly heavy going in places, but like Corman's early Poe films it's all in the aid of mood. Stylish and memorable.
  • I love the work of Mario Bava, but I am not going to get carried away and say this is his best film. It isn't. Nor is it his second best or third best. The story is simple enough: a cruel, sadistic man comes back after his brother married his own flame, a woman still attracted to him because she enjoys being whipped and beat for sensual/sexual gratification. Soon Kurt, the whip-cracking prodigal son is killed amidst a host of possible suspects. The girl starts seeing him return from the dead. Is he still alive? Is he a ghost? Or is there never any explanation? You will have to strain your eyes till the end to find out. Now, don't get me wrong. this movie does have a lot to offer. Christopher Lee gives an excellent performance in a very unusual role as Kurt the whipper-snapper. Bava always showcases a sumptuous buffet for the eyes with his camera lens. He uses color as well and probably much better than any director I can think of at the moment. Every scene for him is a work of art and tackled with that in mind. The Gothic sets, period costumes, and the musical score are all first-rate. All of the actors do decent jobs. Lee is very good. Lavi as "she who must be whipped" is beautiful and acceptable. Luciano Pigozzi, the European Peter Lorre(based on looks not on talent) is in tow as well. But the major and most prominent flaw in the film for me, and one which really reduced my enjoyment of this film, was the incredibly slow pace even for Bava. It seems like forever until something ever happens, and when it does not much happens. The movie is weird in subject matter and purposely vague in much of the storyline. Much is cleared up at the end, but its is a long way for a very small payoff.
  • 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.
  • myboigie26 February 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is undeniable-proof that Mario Bava was one of the best horror-directors of all-time. The maestro's use of color and unnatural-lighting is stellar, and unique. There are few films that convey desire so-deeply, so-yearningly, but also depict repulsion just-as-well; and aren't the two inextricably-entwined in horror? It is perhaps the best Gothic-horror film of the 1960s, bar-none, and that includes some of Hammer's finest. In-fact, you can see that in Bava's, Hammer's and Roger Corman's 'Gothic' films, there is a dialog going-on. They copied-each other, but few would be so-daring as Bava, as this is the best S&M horror-film, and the sexiest too. Dahlia Lavi couldn't be more desirable in this, and the S&M depictions are pretty racy, even the standards of 2006. For this reason, it was radically-cut in most regions-of-distribution (except-Germany!). 'Black Sunday/Mask of Satan' (1960) may have been the 'Citizen Kane' of horror, but this is Bava's 'Tales of Hoffmann' (1951), and all these films should be seen by serious horror-fans. Corman, AIP and Hammer had blood, brains, bulging-boobs and cleavage, but not this!

    It is probably the most-underrated film I have ever seen. A film like The Whip and the Body has to be watched-repeatedly to truly-appreciate, and it gives-up secrets with each-viewing. What has always been a shoddy dubbing-job has marred this film's reputation and relegated it to-the-margins of the horror-genre. The Whip and the Body is the essence of what truly makes-up horror, especially Gothic-horror, and it is psycho-sexual-tension. If you cannot appreciate such literary-concerns, or the eternal-issues involving the human-condition, you aren't going to enjoy it, because it is a pretty literary-film. It is poetic, and strongly-erotic. It is also, decidedly-not 'PC', but who cares anymore about that? Art never is, nor should it be, 'acceptable.' It simply is.

    Outside-of Hitchcock, psychological-horror doesn't get much-better than this masterpiece. It is a ghost-story, and so-much-more. It is a study of sexual-obsession, and the demons that haunt all relationships. Who has not been haunted by a lover from one's past? If you haven't, you are missing-something important in the human-condition, so go out and find it. The archetype of the 'demon-lover' is in full-bloom in this masterpiece, and it is titillating and emotionally-powerful for it. It should also be said the film has a few-similarities to Ricardo Freda's classic, 'The Ghost' (1963), which is likely due to the era it was made-in, and the fact that Bava was frequently Freda's assistant-director. Guilt plays-its-part in the films of both directors, usually manifesting as an apparition. Catholic-guilt? This is likely, but neither Bava or Freda can be typed so-easily, they were non-conformists in their stylizations, with Bava even showing a connection with Slavic-literature in the works of Gogol and Tolstoy. He borrowed from a lot of literary-sources, including Lovecraft, making it into something that was his own. The director was also known for his belief in Italian folk-superstitions, and he drew from Italy's folklore, and Roman mythology as well.

    As far as I can tell, much of the 'color-coding' in this film for given-characters was relatively-new when Bava attempted-it. Powell & Pressberg's 'Tales of Hoffman' is the closest I can recall with this style conveying horror so effectively. Lee's-character (Kurt Menliff) is portrayed in the cobalt-hues of blue ever to grace a Technicolor-film, suggesting the character spectral-nature. Other times, Lee is lit with a green-light on his face, like Osiris. I'd say some aspects of the film resemble the myth of the resurrection of Osiris by Isis (through sexuality). Lee is the dying-god, Nevenka his Astarte or Isis. Scenes of passion with Dahlia Lavi are decidedly red-in-hue, while when the apparition of 'Kurt' gives us scenes that are green or blue. One scene has Lavi walking-down a hallway while each side of her face keeps changing-colors as her emotions change. The whole approach is a kind of expressionism of color, the hues conveying the internal-states of the characters. The Technicolor-process made colors so deep!

    This is film-as-artifice, and we should never forget this while viewing the works of a director like Bava, he reveled in this artificiality. This helped him emphasize the thematic visually, rather than through dialog and a linear-narrative. Yes, it's supposed-to look 'fake', it's a film-reality, like in a Tarantino-film. This movie has suffered-enough! The story-line isn't very difficult to follow, it's just the poor-dubbing by the Italian production-company. When a film is this low-budget (for 1963), it's usually post-production that suffers, and it does here. The owners of this property should record Mr. Lee's dialog for this film-- he has offered, after-all, so why-not? It's insane to think the producers of a film with Christopher Lee would not see-fit to use his actual-voice, because he is an actor who was known for it (and still is).
  • "The Whip and the Body" is an amazingly kinky film--and it surprised me a bit in this regard. It has scenes of sado-masochism, as a female character in the film likes to be beaten before having sex. Because of this you MIGHT wanna think twice before showing this to your kids or grandma.

    This is a Gothic horror film with a nice ambiance and excellent music--though the same tune is overused a bit through the course of the film. The fun begins when the long-disgraced older son (Christopher Lee) arrives after a long absence. Exactly what he'd done isn't spelled out all that clearly, but you know it resulted in the death of a servant and that he's been disinherited. Soon, Lee is off having fun, beating a member of the family and making love to her...and she likes it! Now you THINK Lee has returned to get some sort of revenge on his family, so I was surprised he took out time for this kinky tryst. And, surprise, surprise, before he can start his plans of revenge, he's stabbed to death! But, through the course of the film, it seems as if he's returned from the dead, and very bad things start to happen...along with some more kinky whippings.

    The payoff for this tale is pretty good and it's a good film with a nice print. But, it's also a bit uncomfortable watching the kinky stuff, so I certainly can't recommend it without some reservations.

    By the way, the DVD for this Italian film is dubbed, not subtitled. And, oddly, although you can tell that Lee was speaking English, it's NOT his voice--it, along with the rest, have been dubbed. As for me, I always prefer subtitled.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mario Bava once again creates a poetic, moving film; a Gothic chiller with plenty of atmosphere (the use of shadows here to evoke fear figures predominantly, even more than in Bava's other work) and with a romantic, tragic love story at its centre. THE WHIP AND THE FLESH highlights Bava at his most sensual, as he focuses the film on a masochistic relationship, something which was not taken lightly when the film was first released.

    The film is deliberately ambiguous, and offers us no explanations. It's never made clear whether Kurt has indeed come back as a ghost, or whether he is just a figment of a disturbed imagination; but in any case, the fact is that love is far stronger than death. The film has the usual Bava trappings; a remote castle, full of empty rooms full of shadows, characters who are not heroic but indeed flawed, a heavy feeling of nostalgia, and of course supernatural occurrences, and a character who may or may not be dead.

    Good performances are given by all of the cast members, especially Lavi as the tormented Nevenka, who hates herself for enjoying the whippings that Kurt gives her. Pigozzi registers as a limping manservant, while Gustavo De Nardo paints a sorrowful picture of an old man with only his memories left to keep him company. Christopher Lee's performance makes a strong impression on the film, indeed he is the key figure in the proceedings. Lee has said that this was one of his favourite films, and he gives one of his best performances here, despite the fact that he was dubbed by an American actor. Lee's Kurt is a noble man, distinguished in appearance, and very dignified; yet at the same time he's totally depraved, delighting in the pain of others. It's this dual role which makes Lee all the more interesting. The doomed romance between Kurt and Nevenka is touching, despite the masochistic basis for the relationship; you get the feeling that the pair really are deeply in love with each other.

    Of course, Bava couldn't make a film without it being controversial, and the sadistic scenes (of whipping) are a typical trademark of his; powerful, yet important, it's not just violence for violence's sake. There are plenty of shocks, faces appearing in windows and ghostly green hands reaching out of the dark, as well as creepy scenes, such as the muddy footprints of a ghost appearing on a wooden floor. The film reaches an eventual climax of Gothic melodrama, and Bava does a good job of weaving the two plot strands of a murder mystery and a supernatural shocker into one satisfying concoction. THE WHIP AND THE FLESH is a woefully underrated film, and remains powerful, moving, and perhaps one of the most striking horror films ever made, one of the few to actually reach out and touch your heart, and not with revulsion, instead with mixed feelings of love and hatred; in fact, you're torn between the genuine love between Kurt and Nevenka and the hatred of the sadistic activities that Kurt enjoys. Added to this one of the most romantic and moving scores ever composed, and you have one cracker of a film.
  • My acquisition of this one was almost as tortuous as the movie's own release/distribution history (due to various censor boards worldwide): the first copy I purchased (in tow with Bava's subsequent effort BLOOD AND BLACK LACE {1964}, upcoming in my ongoing tribute to the Maestro) would not access the Bonus Features on my Pioneer DVD player (the same was true of that "Giallo" landmark); I took it out on VCI, who promptly issued me replacements, plus one freebie disc from their back catalogue in apology (for which I chose the 1961 Best Actor Oscar-nominee THE MARK)…but the package got lost in transit, so I voiced another complaint, which saw them sending out additional copies at their own expense – and this time around, all went well, including playback! At the time, their edition was considered top-tier in terms of supplements and the sheer fact of the film's rare availability in its unadulterated form; 14 years down the line, however, it has not only been reportedly surpassed by subsequent digital releases, but the sloppiness (for which, alas, VCI would come to be known!) is much in evidence – not only errors in the text of their multiple biographies and filmographies abounded but, one thing which I did not recall had bothered me so much before, the audio of the main feature was a mess: the booming score gave a thorough workout to my TV monitor's speakers, with the dialogue coming off distorted as a result!

    As for the movie itself, with the sadomasochistic relationship at its centre (a veritable case of "amour fou" virtually unprecedented in genre cinema!), it showed a definite maturity in Bava's themes (in this sense, it is arguably the most dense psychological study in the realm of Italian Gothic Horrors) – perhaps inspired by Riccardo Freda's similarly-eyebrow-raising depiction of necrophilia in THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK (1962), also written by the prolific Ernesto Gastaldi, and already hinted at by the exploration of both lesbianism and child murder in Bava's previous work i.e. BLACK SABBATH (1963). Artistically, too, the film was a departure in that it gave vent to aesthetic quality over plot logic (which would be taken even further in Bava's next venture up this alley with KILL, BABY…KILL! {1966}): thus, any number of carefully-crafted and unforgettable images – unrealistically bathed in shadows and painterly hues – keep one's mind off the narrative which is mainly rendered through exposition often involving the obligatory romance by bland second leads and, one of the genre's undisputed pitfalls, characters roaming aimlessly along dimly-lit sets…both of which invariably take their toll on the inherently sluggish pacing of such period fare!

    The irreproachable casting of Daliah Lavi (who followed this with a no-less-demanding role in the same year's little-seen IL DEMONIO) and Christopher Lee (easily the most satisfying of his many European ventures, despite the actual brevity of his appearance here!) results in ample sensual and dramatic fireworks (beautifully capped by the concluding shot of a lash slithering, almost in spite of itself, as it burns) – given greater validity by the passionate strains of Carlo Rustichelli's score (cues from which were reprised in the ultra low-budget KILL, BABY…KILL! itself) and Bava's glorification of their unwholesome liaison (several seaside and graveyard trysts that are prone to whip-and-dagger-happy violence, sometimes captured in extreme close-up or sudden zooms!). Incidentally, I sensed a "Giallo" element in the death scenes and the internal probing into them – but, while two characters are patently made out to be suspects (one of them the second victim himself), there was always one conceivable guilty party (with the others' cognizance of a possible ghostly manifestation explained in terms of Lavi's obsession with/possession by Lee)! Notable among the supporting players are "mad" housemaid Harriet White Medin (interestingly, she was in virtually the last scene of BLACK SABBATH – or, rather, the original THE THREE FACES OF FEAR version – and the opening one in this instance!) and Luciano Pigozzi as the inevitable hobbling caretaker (given his affectionate tag of "the Italian Peter Lorre", he feels more like a Dwight Frye substitute amidst a Gothic ambiance!).
  • La Frusta E il Corpo/The Whip and the Body(1963) proved the capabilities of Mario Bava to do a film that was both technically brilliant and emotionally three dimensional. Since Bava was an admirer of the literary work of Dostoevsky then it wouldn't be surprising that Dostoevsky was an influential shoulder on The Whip and the Body(1963). Some areas of the film are inspired by CRIME & PUNISHMENT. Literary influences also extends to Marquis De Sade and Edgar Allen Poe. Mario Bava followed this masterpiece with another in Sei Donne Per L'Assassino/Blood & Black Lace(1964).

    The performances turned in by Christopher Lee and Daliah Lavi are some of the finest in a Mario Bava film. Christopher Lee plays his most evil and sadistic character up to date(I have not seen The Bloody Judge). For the short duration Chris Lee appears on screen, The Whip & the Body(1963) becomes enriched by his presence. Daliah Lavi adds a sympathetic and tragic performance in her role as Nevenka. Daliah Lavi as Nevenka is both physically ravishing and psychologically complex.

    La Frusta E il Corpo/The Whip and the Body(1963) is an excellent gothic period piece that was ahead of its time due to the strong imagery of erotic violence. Its perverse eroticism is an element constantly found in any of Ernesto Gastaldi's written work for Italian crime or horror pictures. Due to the psychological nature of sadomasochism in the film, The Whip and the Body(1963) was heavily censored around the world. The whipping scenes still shock nerves in today's era of de-senitized audiences. Provided a big influence for the sadomasochism of Clive Barker's Hellraiser(1986) and perhaps the films of David Cronenberg.

    Encounter at the beach between Kurt and Nevenka is a telling sign of their sadomasochistic relationship. The beach used in here was a Bava trademark that appears in many of his films. The beach used must have represented for Mario Bava a place where the beauty and ugliness of human nature can be expressed by its scenery. Kurt's whipping of Nevenka at the beach is fueled by the inability of each to feel love because of psychological importance/frigidness. An eroticly charged set piece that caused an uproar during its time.

    Red roses are an important plot object for the story. Red roses symbolizes death, feelings of inner conflict, memory, and repressed erotic emotions. The use of red roses on a visual level is eye popping. The representation of red roses to suggest repressed erotic emotions can be seen when Nevenka caresses her face with a red rose. In La Frusta E il Corpo(1963), red roses take on multiple interpretations.

    Excellent motion picture that is also one of the famed Italian horror director's best films. Mario Bava's ten best films are Blood & Black Lace(1964), Rabid Dogs(1974), The Whip & the Body(1963), Lisa & the Devil(1972), Kill Baby Kill(1967), Bay of Blood(1971), Mask of Satan(1960), Black Sabbath(1963), Hatchet for the Honeymoon(1969), and Planet of the Vampires(1965). The best parts of the film are the use of color to suggest psychological atmosphere. Released on DVD around a year ago with an excellent print and numerous extras. Again, the story revolves around a declining rich family ruined by decadence.

    Kurt's death from behind the curtains in his room is a fantastic set piece that is Christopher Lee's most stylish death scene. The story of The Whip & the Body(1963) would be modernized in a later Mario Bava film, Shock(1977). Mario Bava's direction boldes the film well with technical efficencey and colorful imagery. Theme of guilt forms an elemential root for the psychological emotions of Nevenka following the death of Kurt. A few of the film's erotic ideas would appear in another Ernesto Gastadi scripted gothic period piece called The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock(1964).

    One theme that regularly occurs in many of Bava's films is the notion of the double that is present in movies like The Mask of Satan(1960), Hatchet for the Honeymoon(1969), and Lisa and the Devil(1972). Nevenka and Kurt fit the double motif with similar tastes for sexual violence. Nevenka creates her double in the ghost of Kurt with her feelings of guilt and emotional insercurities. The motif of the double in The Whip and the Body(1963) is identical to the plot device of Fyodor Dostoevsky's early short story THE DOUBLE. The double motif of this motion picture also finds its inspiration from Edgar Allen Poe stories such as THE BLACK CAT, & WILLIAM WILSON.

    La Frusta E il Corpo(1963) is one of a handful of films by Mario Bava that were his most personal. The line by Christopher Lee, "Its wonderful to see things being born, to see them born and to see them die" is an interesting one. The line mentioned above signified Mario Bava's views on the subjects of death and mortality. Its the film that best describes Bava's personal feelings on life, love, and death. La Frusta E il Corpo(1963) and Lisa E il Diavolo(1972) are good Bava film companions because they share in common many ideas and thematic qualities.

    Emphasis is on psychological horror because of the atmosphere and mood created by Bava the cinema photographer. Dark romantic horror film that shows eroticism in a more emotional light not found in many American horror movies. Hauntingly beautiful film score by Carlo Rustichelli. Only towards the end does Nevenka open up and reveal her unrepressed love for the late Kurt. Slow moving horror picture that is best recommanded to anyone with an aquired taste film viewing patience.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    They say that the most timeless cinema is that of the heart, and here, Italian horror maestro Mario Bava; a director famed for the elements of Gothic romance seen in his work; has crafted one of the world's most strange and terrifying love stories.

    Yes, for that is what this film, so often called a horror film is at it's core: A love story.

    But that does not mean for a second that the 'love' it conveys is not a terrifying one. In fact, it may be the most disturbingly poignant of all of Bava's films, as even today it recounts a lifestyle that puts to shame anything that can be accomplished in a giallo film in sending a chill down one's spine, mostly because, it happens every day in real life in some shape or form. Only the era is different.

    A film that describes something like that is truly timeless. But that doesn't mean it's touching like other love stories you see in heartbreak magazines, no, it's not touching; but it definitely is heartbreaking.

    On an eerie twilight-lit coast somewhere in Italy, estranged aristocrat Kurt Menliff(Christopher Lee) returns to the family castle, where several years earlier, he drove the daughter of the family maid; Tania, to suicide with a dagger. The details are never explicitly explained on how Kurt's treatment drove her to suicide, but they become chillingly clear quite soon. Of course, it's not just the maid who bears a grudge against Kurt, but his entire family, his father has disowned him, his brother Christian despises him and his former betrothed can't wait to dismiss him. However, his father agrees to let him stay, grudgingly.

    The Waltons they are not.

    However, when away from prying eyes, it turns out that family member Nevenka(Dahlia Lavi, playing pretty much the same type of role you'd expect to see Barbara Steele in)is still very much in love with Kurt, so, alone on the beach, he expresses his gratitude the only way he can: He savagely attacks her and starts beating her senseless with a whip!!!!! This would be disturbing enough, except for the fact that, and this becomes clear quicker than you'd think; Nevenka LOVES it. And as Kurt says 'You've always loved violence', it becomes clear this is something Nevenka has had a fetish for for a long time and not just tolerance for an abusive man she thinks she can change; this is how she gets off, and Nevenka continues to fantasize about Kurt day and night.

    Even after he turns up dead with the same dagger Tania killed herself with jammed in his throat.

    Kurt's beatings were an addiction she can't live without, what will she do now that he's dead? This is where the film's horror element comes into play: What if Kurt isn't dead? And if he is, who stabbed him? Everyone in the household is a suspect. And things begin to get even more complicated when more and more members of the household turn up dead. Is it Kurt? Tania's ghost? As Christian investigates, the answers begin to grow more and more disturbing.

    'The Whip & The Body' is on the whole, a rather grim affair, with the truly sordid subject matter contrasted with the beautiful coastal setting and fairy tale castle. The fact that a truly beautiful romantic tune(later re-used in several Bava films)plays during Nevenka's fantasies makes for a morbid bit of humor. The film will also likely bore many viewers expecting a giallo-type of film(as I've seen this referred to as a giallo or proto-slasher in some circles since it involves a hidden killer using a knife) with it's long passages of silence and talkiness(not to mention that Christian is the blandest hero in a Bava film I've ever seen). Still, typical top-notch direction from Bava, the usual gorgeous cinematography and use of color, along with a moving performance by Lavi and a brief, but unforgettable turn by Lee as Kurt(dubbed in some scenes and not in others) make this more than worth your time.

    But what gives the film it's lasting power is the disturbing fact that there are men like Kurt, and many women in positions like Nevenka(willingly or unwillingly)in real life who suffer and inflict suffering daily, many of whom cannot even get out of the web of abuse they are in if they have the chance, and some of whom cling to it. And knowing this goes on is more horrifying than anything in any of Bava's more straightforward horror films.

    Truly ahead of it's time and certainly not for everyone, 'Whip' is a great exploration of many of Bava's recurring themes like the destruction of a family, deceptive appearances(Christopher Lee has never been more handsome), obsession, and ultimately, what Bava called his greatest fear: That of someone alone in a room confronting the darkest aspects of themselves. It may not scare you, it may not even grab your attention, but this film is one of the most haunting pieces of celluloid you will ever see.

    It's a strange mix of 'Psycho', 'Wuthering Heights' and the relationship between Kurt & Nevenka feels like a prequel to 'The Innocents'. All in all, it's worth seeing.

    Enjoy, if you can.~
  • After having finally seen this DVD, when I reread the overwhelmingly positive reviews I was almost convinced the authors saw a different film. I very much enjoy old horror films of all kinds and don't rely on the gore or faster pace of Bava's later films, but this is one boring hour and a half. Marienbad (which I love) is more exciting. It's hardly the masterpiece many claim it to be. More cinematic than "The Innocents?" Excuse me while I wretch. Neither the images nor the themes are so intriguing as to earn the superlatives hoisted upon it. I sense Bava fanboy over-enthusiasm for a restored relic and an adolescent fascination with the sado-masochistic sexual content, which as presented here is only slightly amusing, not dramatically effective. Bava is probably my favorite of the Italian horror directors (Blood and Black Lace is the picture above all other giallo that I recommend to the curious) and I respect the knowledgeable devotion of Tim Lucas and others, but this film is severely overrated.

    That said, as a casual popcorn rental Whip could be entertaining for some of it's imagery (though hardly Bava's best for composition or color as some are incredulously claiming). And the second of the two whipping scenes is truly comical, near camp. But do yourself a favor and rent it before deciding to buy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The suicide of a jilted fiancé holds a scar over the House of Menliff as the black sheep who left her returns, Kurt(Christopher Lee, who is simply outstanding in his limited presence..even dubbed he holds you under his ominous spell)wanting to reclaim his heritage, but receiving scorn from his ailing father(Gustavo De Nardo). His real lover, and sadomasochistic partner, Nevenka(the luscious, ravishing Daliah Lavi)has married his brother Christian(Tony Kendall)who Kurt has always hated. Christian is the caring, straight-as-an-arrow son..the direct opposite of Kurt who seems to cast a malignant shadow over his family. Kurt and Nevenka carry on their passion in a scene where he slashes her with a horse whip and we see that she likes it very much. There's a history of this as we can see. She claims to hate him, but he's perhaps merely a male mirror image of her own ugly side she tries to hold imprisoned in herself. Someone kills Kurt with a dagger..the very dagger that was used by the love he left to stab herself with. This death will haunt the rest of the characters as Kurt reappears to Nevenka setting off a growing madness in her as no one else seems to see his presence, but her. When the patriarch, Count Menliff is killed by the same dagger in the same fashion as Kurt, the idea that Kurt's ghost has returned becomes a looming, frightening possibility. Among the other melodramas, Christian is actually in love with servant girl Katia(Ida Galli), maid Giorgia's(Harriet Medin, the mother of the female suicide that Kurt left to suffer)daughter. Losat(Luciano Pigozzi)is the manservant spooked by the terrifying circumstances emerging after Kurt's demise is often walking the grounds and family mausoleum expecting to find specters. We also call into question whether Kurt's ghost is real or simply imagined by a grieve-stricken(..and guilt-stricken)Nevenka harboring a secret love for the murdered aristocrat and now coming face to face with the inequities she's kept buried inside.

    Fantastic Gothic masterpiece from one of our treasured Horror directors..the lush color photography is jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring. Every frame of this film looks like it was lifted from one painting or another. Superb uses of red and green, especially when Lee's "ghost" appears to Nevenka. Sure, the whipping S&M aspect adds a naughty flavor to the proceedings, but it's the way Bava brings this castle setting to life with his camera and artistic eye that makes this such a pleasure to behold. I loved how Bava returns to the muddy boots and the prints they leave behind without showing who is treading the floors with them. I think this is Bava's finest film. I hope in time(..and I believe it already is starting to gain an official..and rightfully deserved..following)this film will be mentioned more and more as a classic horror film to be seen. It really is a Gothic horror fan's wet dream. Great atmospheric trappings are benefited by a grand, sweeping score. If there ever was a director who painted a canvas using the cinematic form as his paint brush, it was Bava. And, the way he shoots faces as the characters seek out Kurt in the darkened rooms of the castle at night. Or, the way Bava lights the family crypt as others dare step inside to possibly find Kurt's ghost within. See how Bava uses a tree vine whipping in an open window reminding Nevenka of her sordid past with Kurt. Not only does Bava use color, but symbolism describing the passionate, yet violent, nature between Kurt and Nevenka. Lavi's captivating beauty is wonderfully shot, often in her room, engulfed in darkness, the wind roaring, her frightened eyes constantly veering right & left..she's completely at the mercy of Kurt's presence. I feel Bava establishes the fact that, even though Kurt's dead, his hold over this family is long-lasting, especially Nevenka, who keeps pronouncing her hatred for him even though she's in denial of her true feelings. Perhaps Kurt's *spirit* did truly live and breathe, even if it didn't exactly manifest in our realm, he certainly was real to those still living within the confines of the castle. This is truly a masterpiece.
  • Delirious! Part whodunit, part ghost story and perhaps one of the finest Gothic tales of the sixties. "La Frusta E il Corpo" is a very beautiful romantic horror movie. Don't miss it. The atmosphere is unique, the film is like a painting, the photography and the scenery are exceptional, the music is stirring, and the acting is very good. (Christopher Lee is haunting and the handsome Daliah Lavi reminds me of Barbara Steele) At least as good as the Hammer Film Productions! I am very happy that nearly all the work of maestro Mario Bava is now available on DVD and I can only hope that it will be possible to buy other great Italian classics such as "La Danza Macabra" and "I Lunghi Capelli de la Morte" from Antonio Margheriti on DVD in the future too.
  • Around the time that Black Sabbath came out in 1963, Sam Arkoff, the president of AIP Pictures (who distributed Bava's films in the States) invited him over to work as a studio director for them. But whereas Alfred Hitchcock, who did the same switch from Europe to Hollywood, was working for mega-producer David O. Selznick, Bava would be thrown in with the same people who did I Was a Teenage Werewolf. There's a difference in class right there. Due to his limited knowledge of English, Bava never made the jump. Who knows what might have come out of this potential career stateside? Would he become as widely known as Hitch? Probably not. He might still be horribly underrated and only regarded as god among film buffs and other film-makers (like Tim Burton) but he's slowly getting his due. The one thing we can be sure about is that gems like The Whip and the Body wouldn't have happened if Arkoff had managed to lure him under the AIP roof. That would be a damn shame.

    So what if it starts of kind of erratic and uneven, with staged performances, stilted lines and paper-thin characterization? Mario Bava is a cinematic giant for good reason: his visual prowess. And surely and slowly The Whip and the Body sets into motion.

    How can I best explain The Whip's charm? Around the 20 minute mark, for reasons my subconscious would have a hard time explaining, I got up from my movie-watching armchair and laid down half-drunk in my bed, which still has a perfect view of the TV screen. I don't generally do that, even when I'm half drunk (which is a lot of the time). But therein lies The Whip's power: it's not a film that makes you sit down and take note. It's not about following the plot (a simple Gothic horror story with strong supernatural and romantic overtones). No, it's all about submerging yourself in the visual realm that Bava creates for you. It's about slipping in a dreamlike state and letting the colours and baroque atmosphere wash over you.

    Bava's use of colour is similar to Black Sabbath. Cyan, magenta, orange, red, purple, nothing escapes his palette. Sometimes three or four of them in the same frame. To me it seems the colour in lighting is not used with any greater scheme other than making everything look beautiful and colourful, but being a fan of "style over substance" (which is nonsense really, if style is not substance in a film then what is?) I can dig it.

    All in all, The Whip is a love story masqueraded in a traditional Gothic horror film that will not be to everyone's taste but those with an appetite for an almost hypnotic film drenched in a morbid, dreamlike atmosphere need look no further.
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