Horror Castle (1962)

Horror_Castle_(1963)Women’s Virtues Made him a Killer!

A young bride returns with her husband to his native Germany to stay at his ancestral castle. Somewhat unusually, there’s a torture chamber in the front room; a permanent museum to his famous ancestor, the psychotic ’Punisher’. If that wasn’t unsettling enough, on her first night, she hears strange voices and finds a fresh corpse in the iron maiden…

Standard 1960s Euro-Horror inevitably starring Christopher Lee dubbed by another actor. It was usual practice in the local industry not to bother having the original actors loop their dialogue, probably for budgetary reasons. Here, it doesn’t hurt too much as Lee’s role as the scarred custodian of the sinister museum is mainly peripheral, with main performing duties falling to leads Rossana Pedestà (from the entertaining Italian ‘Seven Golden Men’ caper movies) and George Rivière (Castle of Blood (1964) – not the same movie!)

The story is nothing special, either; a lightweight mystery/horror, presented without any noticeable sense of style by director Antonio Margheriti. He’s much better known as Anthony M. Dawson and his long career as a director includes such ‘classics’ as ‘Yor, The Hunter From The Future’ (1983), ‘Assignment: Outer Space’ (1961) and ‘Cannibal Apocalypse’ (1980).

On the plus side, the castle interiors and brief outdoor locations are pretty good (a trademark of Euro-Horrors of the period) and there’s a definite Hitchcockian flavour to the proceedings; with particular echoes of ‘Rebecca’ (1940).  A sinister housekeeper channels Mrs Danvers and Podestà begins to suspect her often-absent hubby of all sorts of indiscretions.

Horror_Castle_(1963)

Her attempt at a Hi-Five was destined to fail…

But we never really engage with the story, even the potentially interesting Nazi sub-plot, as the leading protagonists are painted in such broad, dull strokes that the actors are unable to invest them with any great personality. It also doesn’t help that the supporting characters are so generic as to be almost invisible: the maid, the police inspector, the American special agent.

Much worse than that, any potential atmosphere is shredded by the distracting and clumsy musical soundtrack; punctuating every ‘shock’ with a heavy-handed ‘sting’ or deafening crash of instruments. Of course this may have just been tacked on to the English language print, but the big reveal in the early scenes is presented in just such a way; followed immediately by the opening credits playing over the cool strains of some be-bop jazz! Perfectly breaking the mood and setting the scene for the hilariously jolly japes to come. Only, hang on, it’s actually supposed to be a horror film…

But there is an important lesson to be learned from all this: girls, if your boyfriend has a museum of torture in his house, it’s probably best to think twice before booking the church…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s