A publisher takes some models on location to shoot covers for his range of new horror novels. Unfortunately, he picks a creepy old castle; once the hangout of a notorious killer who was tortured and executed centuries earlier. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the psycho still seems to be around…
Cheerfully trashy Euro-horror from the 1960s that sidesteps subtlety and taste and instead delivers a garish and tacky tale of perversion and murder. The film stars Mickey Hargitay, who was best known as a bodybuilder and ex-husband of famous starlet Jayne Mansfield. A no-name cast of tasty Euro-babes and faceless hunks serve as typical slasher fodder.
There isn’t a huge amount of entertainment on offer in this one as mystery and suspense are ditched early on in favour of rather crude and obvious chills. What remains fun is Hargitay’s performance as the retired actor who owns the castle. He lets loose without apology, aided and abetted by some wonderfully eccentric and ridiculous dialogue, mostly focusing on his own physique and general perfection. Sure, it’s a turn that most probably belongs on the pantomime stage but it injects some badly needed life into a listless, formulaic production. The only other real point of interest is a bizarre trap involving lots of arrows and a giant spider that reeks of 1920s silent melodrama, rather than a movie made almost half a century later.
Sadly, factors on the debit side just keep piling up. A flat, predictable storyline, limited and unconvincing SFX and some atrocious dubbing. Our heroes and heroines are just cyphers; they bitch a little and indulge in the usual romantic escapades without becoming anything more than mildly annoying. In fact, I couldn’t wait for old Red Suit to get stuck in!
Director Massimo Pupillo didn’t have a long career; helming a few other Euro-horrors and one ‘Django’ western. The writing partnership of Roberto Natale and Romano Migliorini’s most notable other effort was probably Mario Bava’s ‘Lisa and the Devil’ (1973). Hargitay also appeared in ‘The Reincarnation of Isabel’ (1973), which is supposed to be worth a look.
In a way, you could see this film as a precursor to ‘Halloween’ (1978) and its ilk, but you’d probably be stretching the point a bit. The whole business is actually based on the writings of the Marquis de Sade. At least that’s what the credits inform us. It’s reassuring to know that the old bugger was able to help pay the bills by penning cheap 1960s horror films.