TOMB OF TORTURE aka METEMPSYCO (1963) Reviews of Italian horror

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‘Born murdered!’

Tomb of Torture is a 1963 Italian horror film directed by Antonio Boccaci [as Anthony Kristye] from a screenplay co-written with Giorgio Simonelli [as Johnny Seemonell]. Original title: Metempsyco

The movie stars Annie Alberti, Adriano Micantoni (The Gestapo’s Last Orgy), Marco Mariani (Death Smiles on a Murderer; Frankenstein ’80; Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), Flora Carosello, Antonio Boccaci, Bernard Blay, Emy Eco, Terry Thompson and Fred Pizzot.

In the US, Richard Gordon distributed the film on a double bill with the 1964 German horror film Cave of the Living Dead.

A young woman is tormented by nightmares that she is the reincarnation of a dead countess. Her father, trying to get her to stop the dreams, takes her to a village near the castle of the late countess.

In the village, she meets a reporter who is investigating reports of the deaths of two young women who it is believed were killed by a creature that lives in the castle. Meanwhile, an Indian psychic, Rahman, lurks nearby…

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Despite some initially intriguing torture chamber scenes that anticipate the delirious 1970s work of director Renato Polselli (Black Magic Rites), this low-rent castle-caper soon becomes bogged down in the kind of joker reporter/hidden treasure shenanigans that bedevilled horror thriller films since the 1930s.

Worse still, the Scooby-Doo-type plot is dreadfully lame and – perplexingly – the scenario seems to be set in England, with the inclusion of a laughably fake British bobby (whose costume bears no similarity to a proper uniform) and the director himself as a browned-up ‘Indian’ psychic.

Meanwhile, the monster, whose lopsided face seems to have suffered the same fate as Blood of the Vampire‘s hunchback Carl (as played by Victor Maddern), laughs irritatingly whenever he’s onscreen and, as is the case in The Beast in Heat (1977), the supposed threatening torture chamber rats are clearly benign hamsters.

Minor positives include some arresting gothic imagery and a disarmingly obvious yet smile-inducingly bonkers ‘creepy’ score by Armando Sciascia (The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein).

Yet, for all its faults, Tomb of Torture is at least worth a late-night look just to see how other 1960s Italian cobwebbed gothic horrors by the likes of Antonio Margheriti match up in terms of entertainment value. And, amidst its histrionic and decidedly humble horrors, at least it never drags…

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

Tomb of Torture has a plot that’s anything but stirring, but it’s got a wicked torture chamber, as well as a very ugly monster (complete with one half of his face completely mutilated and sunken) who likes to tie up young girls and (seemingly) do nasty things to them! Basically, Tomb is the kind of flick that would give you nightmares for days had you caught it on TV as a kid, but it can still induce a chill or two if the moment is right.” DVD Drive-In

“The movie also seems at least partially a comedy, and the primary comic relief character is our reporter-hero; just as a rule, don’t put too much hope on how effectual your hero will be if his musical theme prominently features an oboe. Overall, the movie is rather clumsy and crude, but it somehow remains rather watchable all the same…” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings & Ramblings

“It goes from being an enjoyable Gothic yarn to a talky, plodding mess in an instant. You know, the kind of movie where everyone has to constantly explain what’s going on almost all the time, while poor attempts at characterization and next to nothing happens on the screen. It also doesn’t help that there’s no mystery or suspense on display.” Joseph Howell, Talk of Horrors

Choice dialogue:

Doctor Darnell: “Just as I thought. It’s caught it Dobson, you drink too much. A good enema is what you need. And above all, don’t get frightened. Goodnight!”

Filming locations:

Castello Orsini, Nerola, Lazio, Italy
Palazzo Borghese, Artena, Italy

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