Random Film of the Week(end), Too: Horror Castle

(thanks, sleazeorama!) 

Horror Castle smallGiven that it’s been released with no fewer than three titles (The Virgin of Nuremberg and Castle of Terror are the other two), it’s not surprise that I didn’t get to see this Italian horror flick until it popped up on TCM a few days ago. Of course, if I wasn’t up and half dying from the scratchy throat that mutated into the cold I’m now getting over, I’d have missed this frightening little import gem. Sure, it’s got a score that sounds a bit out of place, some odd dialog (although I’m not sure if this a translation issue) and yes, plenty of clichĂ© gone wild moments that would sink a lesser effort. Nevertheless, the overall gloomy atmosphere and great color photography, a great extended cameo by Christopher Lee (misspelled as Cristopher Lee in the credits) and a pretty damn excellent scene involving rats, a cage and a young woman’s face make this one worth tracking down…

The Virgin of NurembergThe film starts off on a high note with a pretty young thing waking up in a spacious but creepy bedroom in the titular castle (unless you’re watching the original, then you realize this may be the titular virgin of that titular German town), then poking around slowly until she stumbles upon a what looks like a torture chamber complete with a nubile young corpse in an iron maiden with gouged out eyeballs. Eeek. Of course, she faints, the titles roll in and afterwards our fair maiden is told she was having a nightmare or something and she should just let herself get a little rest and it’ll allllll be better.

Yeah, right. As this is supposed to be a horror film, that torture chamber is all too real, there’s a formerly believed deceased murderer stalking around and our virgin decides to take an unpaid internship as a budding detective of sorts. Some of this works, some of it doesn’t, and by the time we see the hideous Punisher show his face after killing off a few more unfortunates (and no, it’s not Frank Castle, har har), your skin will have probably creeped up a bit to the point you think you’ve got a case of chicken pox and the mumps on top of that goose flesh. Director Antonio Margheriti makes great use of color film stock, camera angles and some shocking close ups that still give this oldie quite a few jolts today.

Speaking of jolts, I won’t reveal the films biggest plot twist but you can kind of see it coming a mile away of you just expend a few brain cells about some stuff that becomes pretty obvious within the firts ten minutes or so. Although one amusing thing about the film is it seems like a gothic period piece until a point when it’s not one. At a tidy 83 minutes, this one’s not perfect in spots, but it certainly delivers the goods exactly where expected and like a mostly good tale of terror, will linger in your mind long afterwards. Or at least until you catch a mote memorable film. Go check this one out soon, I say – you’ll be sleeping with big rat-sized glue traps all around your bedroom afterwards…

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