Movie Name: Nightmare Castle
Studio: Cinematografica Emmeci
Release Date(s): July 16, 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Coldhearted scientist Stephen Arrowsmith (Paul Muller) is experimenting in blood regeneration. When he catches his wife Muriel (Barbara Steele) and her lover together, he kills them…using their blood to rejuvinate his assistant Solange (Helga Liné). Arrowsmith discovers that he’s been cut out of the will by his wife and is forced to marry her sister Jenny (Barbara Steele) to get her fortune. Stephen and Solange are trying to drive Jenny crazy, but Stephen’s experiments might unleash something more.
Directed by Mario Caiano, Nightmare Castle was an Italian horror film released as Amanti d’oltretomba. The movie was met by mixed reviews but generally praised for Barbara Steele’s performance as both the wife and her sister. The film is in public domain and often found in multipacks.
Nightmare Castle was made to be a homage by Caiano to other Italian horror directors and Steele whom he cast in the lead role. The movie has some great moments in it, but it also has some big problems that hurt the production.
The movie’s plot is overly complex. The blood experiments, the murder set-up, the psychic connections, and the ghosts almost feel more like a Dario Argento Italian film rather than an Edgar Allen Poe story which it is often compared to. The craziness of the movie both hurts the movie by trying to do too much in a short amount of time…there isn’t enough room for development.
The acting is pretty wooden. Barbara Steele possibly provides the only stand-out. The scream queen gives to play two very different characters and within each character, there is a lot of variety. The Muriel character is cold and evil and Jenny character is nice but on the verge of going insane. It is a fun, dual role.
Visually, the movie excels. Despite an obviously low budget, Caiano does a decent job making a very atmospheric setting. In addition to a movie that could be simply atmospheric, there is some special effects near the end that are decent for the time.
Nightmare Castle is a fun, quick film. As an Italian homage, it sometimes feels more like a Hammer Horror film. That is a good thing in addition to the acting of the Barbara Steele. Nightmare Castle is readily available online, and I recommend it for some classic horror.
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