1 November 2005 | The_Void
Lushly Gothic visuals, a great score and Barbara Steele....what more could you want from an Italian horror film?
My main reason for seeing this film was the fact that it's on the Redemption label. Redemption films are often not all that good, but they have great cult value and are usually worth seeking out. Of course, Barbara Steele offered up another reason for watching - but still, my expectations for this film weren't very high. After the first twenty minutes, however, my low expectations turned into hopefulness; as I prayed that the remaining eighty minutes would be as great as the first twenty! The film grabs you instantly with it's combination of crisp black and white photography, morbid subject material, Gothic locations and a score courtesy of the great Ennio Morricone. The film is pure cult class, which really doesn't let up until the final credits role. The plot follows a man who, after finding his wife with another man, proceeds to torture them both. However, she takes the upper hand when she lets him know that all of her wealth has been left not to him - but to her imbecile sister! Our protagonist isn't taking this lying down, however, and it isn't long before he's returning to the castle with a new bride
Just like she did in Mario Bava's masterpiece "Black Sunday", Barbara Steele takes on a dual role. Despite being obviously the same actress, it's easy to buy into the fact that she's playing too different characters. Her roles are suitably different, and she plays them both to perfection. Steele is often passed off as merely a horror film actress; but she really does have talent. The rest of the cast's performance is marred somewhat by some really awful dubbing and a script that isn't much better, but it doesn't matter too much because the focus of the film is never on the acting - it's clearly on the atmosphere. The plot gives way to a beautiful set of locations; the lushly Gothic castle photographed in the same cinematic style as the best black and white films that Italian cinema has to offer. At times, the film is incoherent and the plot doesn't always flow well; but it doesn't matter much, because there is always enough of the style element to ensure that the film remains interesting. The fact that the plotting isn't soaked with silly jump moments and out of place imagery makes me love the film even more; as it's clear that the director cares more about delivering story and atmosphere rather than simply trying to scare the audience. On the whole; the film has flown under more than a few radars, but that's unfair as it's damn good! Take that as a recommendation.