Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nightmare Castle (1965)

Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith (Paul Muller) is a greedy and sadistic man who spends his time on crazy experiments and wants nothing more than to inherit his wife's family fortune. After discovering his wife cheating he tortures her and her lover until their death but not before she informs him she has re-written her will to leave everything to her sister who is institutionalized. Shortly after their murders he marries the sister in a plot to drive her totally insane and inherit complete control of the estate to share with his true lover Solange, the housemaid. The ghosts of his dead wife and her lover aren't too thrilled with the idea and haunt the castle until they exact their revenge in a fiery finale.

Mario Caiano directs this moody piece of gothic horror that is brimming with thick atmosphere from the beautiful black and white photography. Caiano's direction is like that of someone with a much larger name associated with gothic horror. Mario Bava comes to mind right away. Getting the most out of his shots and actors, NIGHTMARE CASTLE is classic 1960s horror. The lovely and legendary Barbara Steele stars in a duel role, playing both the Dr.'s wife Muriel and her sister Jenny. Steele does a nice job in the very different roles and embodies gothic horror as always. The film is scored by Ennio Morricone and is his first horror soundtrack. It is a key element to the film. His use of the organ is overbearing to put it lightly, but in the best possible way. It creates a feeling of tension and unrest, almost as if you aren't comfortable in whatever familiar place you're watching NIGHTMARE CASTLE.

NIGHTMARE CASTLE has seen a slew of cheapy releases over the years with almost as many different alternate titles. The film was recently restored in its complete uncut form by Severin and it is definitely how the film should be watched. If you are interested in gothic horror or horror that relies heavily on its atmosphere you definitely need to see NIGHTMARE CASTLE.


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