THE VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG (1963) Reviews and overview

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‘Women’s virtues made him a killer!’

The Virgin of Nuremberg is a 1963 Italian horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti (Castle of Blood; Killer Fish; Cannibal Apocalypse) [as Anthony Dawson] from a screenplay co-written with Edmond T. Gréville and Renato Vicario. The film’s brassy score is by Riz Ortolani (Mondo Cane; Cannibal Holocaust). The movie stars Rossana Podestà, Georges Rivière, Christopher Lee, Jim Dolen, Lucille St. Simon and Patrick Walton.


The film’s original Italian title is La vergine di Norimberga and it has also been released as The Castle of Terror (UK, by Compton Films) and Horror Castle (USA, by Zodiac Films). 



The Virgin of Nuremberg was based on an Italian paperback novel La vergine di Normberga, issue #23 in the KKK series of Italian pulp paperback novels. These novels were part of a trend of cheap paperback novels that blended Gothic, horror and erotic styles.


The film’s producer, Marco Vicario, was the co-founder of the company G.E.I. who published the KKK paperbacks. Margheriti changed elements of the plot of the story to include a war and surgery subplots. The film also removes some of the more extreme elements of the novel, such as a part where a man severs a woman’s nerve before pulling out almost all of the bones from her body.


Many sources state that giallo specialist Ernesto Gastaldi was credited as Gastad Green, but he has denied contributing to the film’s writing, stating he may have discussed plot elements with Margheriti, but did no actual writing. The official documents relating to the film’s production credit Marco Vicario’s brother Renato Vicario as Gastad Green.

The Virgin of Nuremberg creepy castle


When Max Hunter leaves his American bride Mary alone in his German castle, a series of gruesome slayings occur in the abandoned torture chamber. In a shocking revelation, a hideous phantom killer, with a ghastly Nazi past, stalks the castle corridors and dusts off some of the tools of torture for some fresh bloodletting…

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” … a totally illogical script in which virtually every plot development hinges upon the heroine’s bottomless stupidity and complete lack of any sense of self-preservation!” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

” … the film isn’t without its problems, which mainly reside in the script. The amazing, literary style quotes of so many classics are sorely missed here and the dialogue is merely average. The plot displays only one decent twist but it is ahead of its time in the way of being quick to the punch and this trait separates it from the vast pack of slower, story building gothic horrors.” Brett H., Oh, the Horror!


“As a director, Antonio Margheriti provides few of the subtle, wonderfully atmospheric moments present in his more successful Castle of Blood. Instead, Margheriti prefers to stun the audience with gratuitous gore and graphic tortures that disgust rather than frighten.” Lawrence McCallum, Italian Horror Films of the 1960s 



“It’s a stylish, atmospheric and effective gothic horror film…” Monster Minions

“The script and the dialogue are ludicrous, but the extraordinary cruelty of the film – like the rat cage placed over a woman’s face, with predictably terrifying consequences – soon chokes the temptation to laugh and the efficient special effects arranged by Margheriti himself makes for some impressive scenes.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

The Virgin of Nuremberg rat in a cage torture

” … worth it, especially if you like cold violence, as Margheriti pushes the limits with his tortures” Danny Shipka, Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980

“The ultimate explanation is so far-fetched that it borders on goofy, but if you can handle such things, the film might satisfy.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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Cast and characters:

  • Rossana Podestà … Mary Hunter
  • Georges Rivière … Max Hunter (as George Riviere)
  • Christopher Lee … Erich (as Cristopher Lee)
  • Laura Nucci … Martha
  • Jim Dolen … John Selby
  • Leonardo Severini … The Doctor
  • Anny Degli Uberti … Kidnapped Woman
  • Luciana Milone … Trude
  • Mirko Valentin … The General
  • Lucile Saint-Simon … Hilde (as Lucille St. Simon)
  • Patrick Walton … (as Patrik Walton)
  • Carole Windsor
  • Rex Vidor
  • James Borden
  • Peter Hardy
  • Bredon Brett
  • Robert Mayor
  • Anthony La Penna … The Doctor
  • Consalvo Dell’Arti … Doctor (uncredited)


Choice dialogue:

Max Hunter: “Was he a moralist? Or a maniac?”

Max Hunter: “The war left my spirit in a worse state than Erich’s face.”

Martha: “You shouldn’t trust strange Americans.”

The Punisher: “Instruments of torture are more or less the same, wherever you go!”


Offline reading:

Bizarre Sinema: Horror All’Italiana 1957 – 1979, Glittering Images, 1996


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Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957 – 1969 by Roberto Curti


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Italian Horror by Jim Harper

italian horror jim harper


Italian Horror Film Directors by Louis Paul, McFarland, 2010


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Spaghetti Nightmares by Luca M. Palmerini, Gaetano Mistretta, Fantasma Books

Spaghetti Nightmares


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