Saturday, February 9, 2008


TERROR CREATURES FROM THE GRAVE (aka 5 TOMBE PER UN MEDIUM) is an Italian production from 1965. Directed by Massimo Pupillo (who, unhappy with the final product, deferred credit to producer Ralph Zucker), it was no doubt instigated by AIP's success with their Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, as the Bard of Baltimore gets an "inspired by" title card. Not exactly sure what story actually "inspired" the film, but hey, Poe's dead so who's he to say anything?

Set in an unspecified period milieu, indicated by references to new-fangled inventions like cars and telephones, the threadbare story concerns an attorney (Walter Brandi, whose dialogue is dubbed with the same booming authority as Powdered Toast Man) settling the estate of a recently-deceased medium. At the dead man's castle he meets the medium's wife (Barbara Steele), who informs Brandi of her husband's ability to summon and communicate with the souls of ancient plague victims, and whose spirit still roams the castle.

Atmospheric in the soft, dream-like way that only cheap black-and-white films can be, TERROR CREATURES possesses a few creepy moments but for much of its length it remains talky and more than a little dull. Patient viewers will be rewarded, though, towards the end, as the film presents quite a few unexpectedly gruesome bits, such as the self-impalement of a wheelchair-bound man or the pustule-covered face of a returning plague victim. Zombie fans might be a little disappointed, since the returning medium prefers to wreak havoc in spirit form; the closest we get to the undead is a hand reaching out from a grave, and a scene in which a row of severed hands and jars full of human organs come to life.

Not a bad picture by any means, I'd recommend this mainly for fans of Steele (who has a tantalizingly discreet bathtub scene) and the aforementioned Corman/Poe films.

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