Friday, October 17, 2008


Also known as THE FACELESS MONSTER (whose video box art gives away the surprise at its ending), this 1965 Italian production from director Mario Caiano will appeal to fans of black-and-white Gothic thrillers--being a black-and-white Gothic thriller, I guess that's a given--and the lush, atmospheric work of Mario Bava, to say nothing of the admirers of its star, Barbara Steele.

Steele plays the adulterous wife of a sadistic doctor. When her affair is discovered, she and her lover are tortured to death and, in true Poe-like fashion, sealed within a wall of their castle. Years later, Steele's husband marries her twin sister so he can get to the inheritance he lost. But the spirits of the murdered lovers have remained behind, biding their time to get their revenge.

NIGHTMARE CASTLE--the edited version most commonly found on budget DVD labels--is pretty slow going, and will probably be useless to viewers weaned on more visceral films. Those who appreciate is ambience and mood might still be left restless by its emphasis over melodrama, but in its final reel as Steele and her lover exact their revenge it becomes much more watchable. Perhaps not entirely worth the time it takes getting there, but nonetheless a great example of old-school spook-show horror.

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