The Seventh Grave (La Settima tomba) is an obscure 1965 Italian horror feature film, the only credited movie Garibaldi Serra Caracciolo, who directed it under the alias Finney Cliff.
The opening titles claim the story was concocted by screenwriters Edmond. W. Carloff and Fredrich Mils, but the basic plot mechanisms are rehashed from John Willard’s The Cat and The Canary and Mary Roberts Rhinehart’s The Bat.
In “Old Scotland” (sic), a group of people converge at the castle of scientist Sir Reginald Thorne for the reading of his will. The ancient edifice once belonged to Sir Francis Drake and a large fortune is apparently hidden in the walls.
Sir Reginald, who died three years previously from an especially virulent strain of leprosy, dedicated himself to strange experiments with his assistant, Doctor Quick. His body – so disfigured that no autopsy could be performed – now lies in the seventh grave in the family crypt. Quick, also infected with leprosy, is on the run from the police after escaping from a nearby leper hospital.
A séance – organized as a means of discovering the whereabouts of the treasure
is followed by some mysterious deaths. The culprit is finally revealed to be Sir Reginald, intent on continuing his demented research into cell regeneration. It was actually Doctor Quick who died three years earlier and the crazed scientist assumed his identity. After escaping from the leper hospital, he gained access to the castle by pretending to be a police inspector sent to investigate the goings-on there.
Basically a murder mystery larded with elements of Gothic horror, the film is scuppered by a hoary plot, an excess of redundant dialogue, stagey direction and hammy performances. The Anglicized credits – an English translation even appears underneath the main title – indicate that the producers were hoping to pass the film off as a British production. The only really recognizable face in the cast is a young Gianni Dei (Giallo a Venezia, Patrick Lives Again), billed under the transparent pseudonym “John Day”.
The film apparently received a limited provincial release in August 1965 before disappearing from view. It was also adapted for the photo story magazine “Malia: i fotoromanzi del brivido”.
No records of its box office takings appear to exist. The Seventh Grave has never surfaced on home video, but poor quality bootlegs culled from a screening on a privately owned Italian regional TV channel – Tele Antenna – are in circulation. The international rights are currently held by Movietime/Compass.
Mark Ashworth, MOVIES & MANIA
‘Though I wish I could say that this is some kind of unjustly neglected gem that doesn’t deserve its obscurity, it really isn’t.’ Justin McKinney, The Bloody Pit of Horror.