‘A terrifying horror spectacular!’
Mill of the Stone Women – original title: Il mulino delle donne di pietra – is a 1960 Italian-French horror film directed by Giorgio Ferroni (Night of the Devils). The film was also released as Drops of Blood. Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel and Wolfgang Preiss star.
Hans arrives in a town near Amsterdam to write a story on the reclusive sculptor, Professor Val, who lives on an island in the old mill house the locals call the Mill of the Stone Women. Hans meets the professor’s beautiful and seductive daughter and begins feeling passion for her despite his true love for Lisa Lotta.
Slowly, he becomes aware of the nefarious experiments being conducted by Val and his furtive assistant Doctor Boles, and local women continue to disappear…
As with the Roger Corman/Vincent Price Poe adaptations, this is an “infernal puzzle” that gleefully uses classic old wax museum horror themes to explore obsession and death. There’s a simmering sexual undertone and a other-world atmosphere, plus an opening scene that recalls Carl Dreyer’s nightmare-like 1932 film Vampyr.
Creepy Wolfgang Preiss, who plays Professor Val, also played Doctor Mabuse, which adds another appealing dimension for fans of European cinema. Of course, the scenario ends with a cataclysmic raging inferno and a tacky model but that’s in line with every Hammer film and the aforementioned Poe pics of the time.
Fans of Mario Bava are urged to check out this Giorgio Ferroni directed exercise in delirium, as the lurid use of colour, the stylish lighting, and morbid themes are on a par with his work. Indeed, the extended hallucination scene is worth the price of admission alone.
Veteran Ferroni later made the less impressive Night of the Devils in 1972 but, as with most Italian directors, turned his hand to any genre that seemed popular at the time whether it involved Robin Hood, war, western, spies, or his speciality, sword and sandal pics.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
‘ …this multinational yarn purportedly based on a Flemish horror tale comes off like a mad, poetically filmed fusion of House of Wax and Eyes without a Face (not unlike Jess Franco’s nearly contemporary The Awful Doctor Orlof). Less overt in its sex and violence than similar product streaming from Hammer Films and other Italian director, Mill of the Stone Women is a deliberately paced, visually startling treat.’ Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital
“While the story itself isn’t exactly the most original (a lot of the ideas here are also seen in other movies of the same subgenre) it does have it’s share of creepy moments and proves to be quite entertaining regardless thanks for the skilled direction and wonderful sets.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!
“The film contains genuinely nightmarish scenes as Preiss goes about his macabre task in hideously beautiful surroundings, littered with severed limbs, mutilated corpses and the bodies of petrified women.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“… director Giorgio Ferroni creates some striking images with little substance to reinforce them. However, the film’s images were borrowed by other filmmakers including Jack Hill’s Blood Bath (1966)…” Lawrence McCallum, Italian Horror Films of the 1960s
Related: The Windmill (2016)
Cast and characters:
Pierre Brice … Hans von Arnim
Scilla Gabel … Elfie Wahl
Wolfgang Preiss … Doctor Loren Bohlem
Dany Carrel … Liselotte Kornheim (as Danny Carrell)
Herbert A.E. Böhme … Prof. Gregorius Wahl (as Herbert Boehme)
Liana Orfei … Annelore
Marco Guglielmi … Ralf
Olga Solbelli … Selma
Alberto Archetti … Konrad
Aspect ratio: 1.66: 1
MOVIES and MANIA rating: