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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Information Exchange  |  Movie Reviews  |  Umaril's review of Nightmare Castle (1965) « previous next »
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Author Topic: Umaril's review of Nightmare Castle (1965)  (Read 2049 times)
Umaril Has Returned
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« on: June 19, 2014, 10:31:18 AM »


As the middle 60's rolled around, European horror films began subjecting American audiences to some serious shocks and taking them out of their comfort zones.  European horror, in many cases, pushed the sensibilities of Americans, and Nightmare Castle is one film of exceptional note, for a few good reasons.The story line, for one. To me, this is the ultimate "vengeance from beyond the grave' movie.  Add to that some seriously thick Gothic atmosphere enhanced by an excellent chamber music score by maestro Ennio Morricone. Almost done, right? Nope. The most important ingredient of all is Barbara Steele, the ultimate scream queen of her day (or any day).  

Steele's unearthly beauty made her a natural for these types of movies, and anyone whose seen her in Castle Of Blood,  Mask Of Satan or Terror Creatures From The Grave would be hard pressed to disagree.  Her first exposure to American audiences came from Roger Corman's adaptation of Poe's "The Pit And The Pendulum". She was a virtual overnight success, and her career in horror is nothing short of phenomenal.

The Story:

The film centers on a mad but very brilliant scientist, Dr, Steven Arrowsmith, (Paul Muller) who has found a way to regain youth thru the process of stimulating human blood with high voltage.  His unfaithful wife, Muriel (Steele) has been getting it on with David, the groundskeeper, while he's been trying to perfect his experiments.  One night the elderly maid, Solange (played by Euro beauty Helga Line) reports the two in the act, and Dr. Arrowsmith quickly subdues and imprisons them in his dungeon.  He promises the two their freedom if Muriel signs over the castle and it's fortunes, but she refuses.  

After a few minutes of some seriously graphic mental and physical torture, both are electrocuted. Their bodies are drained of blood, and cremated, but not before the good doctor skewers both their hearts on a dagger and places them in a tank.  Quite a graphic scene for an American-released horror movie in that day. Enter Jenny, Muriel's younger step-sister (also Steele in a dual role, something she did to great effect in Mask Of Satan.)  After coming to the castle to investigate Muriel's death, Arrowsmith wastes no time in courting and marrying her, because she's the one Muriel left the fortune to.  

Things seem to be going good for awhile and Arrowsmith's plans seem to be on track. Except...Jenny begins having odd nightmares, relapses, and later on, begins displaying the characteristics of someone else the good doctor was familiar with.  Lawrence Clift, who plays a psychiatrist friend of Jenny's called in to investigate her personality change, isn't very convinced of Arrowmith's innocent act, and feels something isn't right.

At this point and up to the film's end, Paul Muller (Arrowsmith) plays a great mad scientist-he has an answer for everything, and nothing sticks to him as he convinces those around him that he is a man of science immune to the possibilities of the supernatural, even as the events of the film began to suggest that science and the supernatural are headed for a showdown (and a memorable one at that.)

I won't reveal the end, but let me say that this film has one of the most memorable and shockingly graphic endings of a horror film of it's day, and a very symbolic closing scene.
Horror movies come and go, but this one will always be remembered as a true classic of the Gothic genre.  If you're looking for crappy new-age horror, go to your RedBox rentals. However,if you're looking for a real scare, I'd recommend spending a night or two at Nightmare Castle, you can't go wrong.  Highly recommended!


« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 10:35:55 AM by Umaril Has Returned » Logged
Trevor
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2014, 02:40:21 AM »

Nice review by my formerly unfeathered brother.  Wink

I have this in a DVD box set that my special sister bought for me in Kabul of all places - her husband was working there on a contract - and the film is indeed chilling. The fact that the print the DVD was mastered from is in a terrible condition makes the film all the more chilling and that ending: wow.  Buggedout

« Last Edit: June 20, 2014, 06:37:44 AM by Trevor » Logged

My brother, myself, my saviour, my friend, the fire we are, the fire will end......
Umaril Has Returned
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2014, 02:55:13 PM »

Nice review by my formerly unfeathered brother.  Wink

I have this in a DVD box set that my special sister bought for me in Kabul of all places - her husband was working there on a contract - and the film is indeed chilling. The fact that the print the DVD was mastered from is in a terrible condition makes the film all the more chilling and that ending: wow.  Buggedout




Thanks for the kind words on my review, brother. Let me buy you a cold one  Cheers

This movie is indeed chilling on so many levels, and the ending gave me some nightmares of my own. The makeup on Steele's face was the real winner, that was a great piece of work for the day.  There too, Barbara Steele was quite a lovely piece of work too  hot

It was said that she walked off of the set of an Elvis Presley movie, I think the title was Flaming Star. I guess Roger Corman decided it was his big chance and he got her for The Pit And The Pendulum. I'd say he made a very good choice!
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