THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH (1964) Reviews and overview

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The Long Hair of Death is a 1964 Italian gothic horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti (Cannibal Apocalypse; Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eyes; The Virgin of Nuremberg) from a screenplay co-written with Tonino Valerii (director of giallo My Dear Killer), based on a story by Ernesto Gastaldi.

The film stars Barbara Steele, Giorgio Ardisson and Halina Zalewska.


September 1499. Adele Karnstein is burned at the stake, accused of being a witch who has murdered Count Franz Humboldt.

Lisabeth, the woman’s youngest daughter, lives in the Humboldt castle and when she grows up she is forced to marry the deceased man’s nephew, Kurt Humboldt, whom is the real murderer…

The film is released on Blu-ray in the UK by 88 Films on 24 July 2017.

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” …wins points for its sexuality, using unnerving couplings and personal submission to add a tinge of unrest to the tale as it gradually finds its way to ghostly occurrences. However, it’s a long, slow ride to death’s door, with simple acts and behaviors gobbling up minutes of screentime, feeling more like padding instead of suspense.”

” …connoisseurs of the Italian gothic will definitely want to check it out for its standout sequences, oddly radical political undertones and overall atmosphere – and Barbara Steele fans will certainly appreciate her relatively large amount of screentime – but newcomers to the sub-genre would be well-advised to start elsewhere.” Breakfast in the Ruins

“Margheriti peppers The Long Hair of Death (1964) with interesting characters and situations and although the action slows down a bit during the last half, the suspenseful second half benefits from these interactions. The film is also enhanced by a hauntingly beautiful score…” Cool Ass Cinema

“Margheriti’s direction is slack and unfocused and the cinematography mostly undistinguished. Without the heightened visual dimension there are no zinger moments, those single angles on Steele that elicit chills — like the close-up through the rainy window in The Horrible Doctor Hichcock or every other shot in Black Sunday. Margheriti’s elaborate castle set is too often flat-lit and lacking in atmosphere.” DVD Talk

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[spoilers] “With some editing, this could be a pretty good movie. The revenge/ghost/witch plot is always watchable, and there’s some plague subplotting (it takes place in the 15th century) that is always appreciated. Plus the movie is more or less about a guy who wants to kill his wife so he can be with her sister, so that’s hot. And the weird Wicker Man style thing that the bad guy is burned alive in at the end of the film is pretty awesome.” Horror Movie a Day

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” …there’s an unmistakable hint of that old Italian perverse insanity bubbling just below the surface here, and occasionally bursting through into a few scenes of genuine shock. I doubt the maggot-strewn corpse which crops up here was something audiences were expecting to see at this point. Then there’s a body which ickily rebuilds itself through various stages of decay, and there’s even a little nudity thrown in…” We Are Cursed to Live in Interesting Times

“Aside from a few well-realised set-pieces, and a conspicuously grim case of poetic justice at the climax, the action tends to be rather stiff and somnolent, as if the perpetually busy Margheriti was feeling a bit burned out and couldn’t muster the requisite enthusiasm.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic 

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“Subtlety and atmosphere are great, but not for 98 minutes! Here, we are treated to many enticing images of the 15th century castle in dim candlelight, but far too much time is consumed by walking one way, walking the next, chit-chatting between important scenes, etc. All punctuated by the same echoing theremin-style organ notes.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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“There are some fine shots of a white-robed Zulewska wandering through the medieval castle with shafts of lights falling from high windows, and Steele’s presence alone suffices to life such fantasy well above the average, especially when here role combines eroticism and vengeful menace directed against brutally callous men.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

Cast and characters:

  • Barbara Steele as Helen Rochefort / Mary + Piranha; Shivers; Castle of Blood; Black Sunday
  • Giorgio Ardisson as Kurt Humboldt
  • Halina Zalewska as Adele Karnstein / Lisabeth Karnstein
  • Giuliano Raffaelli as Count Humboldt
  • Laura Nucci as Grumalda
  • Umberto Raho as Von Klage
  • Nello Pazzafini as the Servant

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Filming locations:

Massimo Castle, Arsoli, Italy

Some image credits: The Telltale Mind


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