CASTLE OF BLOOD (1964) Reviews and overview

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‘They love only for blood!’ 

Castle of Blood is a 1964 Italian horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti (The Virgin of Nuremberg; Killer FishCannibal Apocalypse), using the pseudonym Anthony Dawson.

In the US, the film was distributed by the Woolner Brothers, who also imported Hercules in the Haunted World; Blood and Black LaceCastle of the Living Dead and produced Hillbillies in a Haunted House.

In 1971, Margheriti remade Castle of Blood in colour as Web of the Spider. The film’s score is by Riz Orlolani (Cannibal Holocaust).

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In October 2002, American company Synapse Films released an ‘uncensored international version’ of the film on DVD.

Plot:

A journalist challenges Edgar Allan Poe on the authenticity of his stories, which leads to him accepting a bet from Lord Blackwood to spend the night in a haunted castle on All Soul’s Eve. Ghosts of the murdered inhabitants appear to him throughout the night, re-enacting the events that lead to their deaths. It transpires that they need his blood in order to maintain their existence…

Reviews:
Castle of Blood has the makings of a minor classic, but it doesn’t quite get there. It has a great set, a sound premise, some very solid acting by contemporary Italian standards, oodles of morbid atmosphere, and a resolution that defies happy-ending/sad-ending categorization in a manner years ahead of its time.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“It’s a marvelously atmospheric gothic thriller, one of the best Italian horror films of the decade, and quite properly made the enchantingly spooky Steele — fresh from Mario Bava’s La Maschera del Demonio — even more of a horror icon. Riccardo Pallotini’s evocative camerawork enhances the mood tremendously, and the shock scenes, though perhaps too tame for modern audiences, are nonetheless strikingly effective.” All Movie

” … the overall impression is good, and the erotic angle much more than that. Antonio Margheriti has made quite a few dull films, often with substandard, rushed visuals. But Castle of Blood has a consistent look and a camera style that avoids meaningless zooms and sloppy blocking.” DVD Savant

“Steele is as strange and beautiful as ever, and the story is dreamlike and surreal enough to rank this as one of the finest fear films to come out of Italy in the 1960s. It certainly ranks up there with the best of Mario Bava, who was originally asked to direct but had to decline due to other commitments.” eSplatter.com

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“Margheriti does a great job framing the gloriously spooky images, and the camera is seldom stationary, using slow zooms, Dutch angles, and even a surprising hand-held shot or two to keep things visually kinetic and interesting. The sets are picture perfect, the music actually fits and sets a ghastly mood, and the plot is a ripping old-school ghost story that wouldn’t be out of place in a collection of stories by Poe himself…” Mad Mad Mad Mad Movies

“A film comprised of 90% atmosphere and 10% plot, Castle of Blood utilizes its moody black and white photography to the hilt as the camera morbidly caresses each dusty corner of the haunted castle and fixates on the always fascinating Steele, whose ability to simultaneously convey romantic attraction and sinister lust pays off during the memorable finale…” Mondo Digital

Castle of Blood is unusual for films of this period in featuring a complicated web of desires among the murdered parties, all of whom seem to want Barbara Steele, one of which is a woman with lesbian desires. This latter is a theme that was ahead of its time and is something that would not enter the horror genre for another few years with Hammer’s Karnstein adaptations and sundry lesbian vampire films.” Moria

“Less about plot and more about atmosphere, the movie moves at a slow and dreamlike pace, with a lot of long and lingering camera movements full of creepy and creaky old set pieces and populated with melodramatic characters.” Rock! Shock! Pop

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“Slightly static at the outset with too much talk, this one really comes into its own after a while. Spooky, good-looking Italian gothic horror stuff. Exploitation veteran Antonio Margheriti may not be Mario Bava but I must admit he does a damn fine job of it nonetheless.” Shameless Self Expression

“Provocative ghost story is given good life here, aided by the strong presences of Steele and Robsahm. Dr Carmus’ discovery of the castle’s tombs is a truly great terror image. Clever and wonderfully timed finale.” The Terror Trap

“As an exercise in style, it works, but as a horror film, it’s a little uneven. The appearance of a skull-faced ghoul that suddenly moves is rather effective and there’s a surprising bit of nudity too. The assorted murders, ghosts, and supernatural happenings are a tad on the predictable side though.
Steele is easily the best thing about the movie.” The Video Vacuum

“Early Italian supernatural horror movies are often atmospheric and filled with dread, from the music to the melodramatic storyline, and Antonio Margheritti directs Castle of Blood with classic Gothic imagery in vivid black and white to increase the menace.” Zombo’s Closet

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Cast and characters:

Barbara Steele … Elisabeth Blackwood
Georges Rivière … Alan Foster
Margrete Robsahm … Julia Alert
Arturo Dominici … Dr Carmus (as Henry Kruger)
Silvano Tranquilli … Edgar Allan Poe
Sylvia Sorrente … Elsi Perkings
Umberto Raho … Lord Thomas Blackwood
Giovanni Cianfriglia … Herbert (as Phil Karson)
Benito Stefanelli … William (as Ben Steffen)

Original Italian title: 
Danza macabra “Macabre Dance”

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