Friday, December 20, 2013

Creature Feature Classics: Nightmare Castle

The first Barbara Steele movie I saw on TV was the late night classic Nightmare Castle. I remember staying up late to watch but falling asleep. When I woke up towards the end of the movie I was pretty startled to see the image of Steele walking through the castle corridor with a disfigured face coming to exact her bloody revenge on her husband.

That image haunted me till I was able to buy a copy from Sinister Cinema in 1986 and watched the entire movie. Not a great film but like the previous Steele film Castle Of Blood it has so much atmosphere that it almost compensates for the boring middle section of this movie.

The plot concerns a 19th mad scientist Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith (Paul Muller) who catches his wife Muriel (Steele) and her lover in the act and captures, tortures and kills both and removes their hearts. After finding out that his late wife removed him from her will and has left all her wealth to her sister Jenny (Steele again) Dr. Arrowsmith marries Jenny and schemes to drive her crazy in order to keep the inheritance. Another subplot concerns the doctors assistant (Helga Line) who wants Muriels blood because it has restorative powers to regain her youth.

Directed By Mario Caino under the pseudonym 
Allan Gruenwald this movie exudes a feeling of death and decay like no other. These Italian Gothics had a special charm for me because they were so unlike any American movies of the time and since they played late night the they just felt scarier since I was watching them by myself in the room and in the dark. And yeah I was  only 11 years old. This was the first movie where I experienced the scary/sexy appeal of Barbara Steele. Neither Black Sunday nor The Horrible Dr Hichcock played on local Miami TV till the later 70's so Nightmare Castle and Castle of Blood, were my first two Steele classics. This was also one of the few 60's Italian films that you could hear Steele's actual speaking voice as Jenny. She was dubbed in all her other 60's movies. Well in the English language versions anyway.

Nightmare Castle is available in a longer uncut version from Severin Films as well as a lot of Dollar DVD collections. So if you want some good late night scares give Nightmare Castle a chance. It the kind of movie they just don't make anymore. A classic of it's kind.

And here's Nightmare Castle
 perfect for late night viewings

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