The Legend of Blood Castle – Spain, Italy, 1972 – reviews

‘Pray to God it’s not true!’

The Legend of Blood Castle – aka Blood Ceremony and The Female Butcher – is a 1972 Spanish-Italian horror feature film directed by Jorge Grau (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie) from a screenplay co-written with Juan Tébar, Sandro Continenza and [uncredited] José Luis Garci. The X Films-Luis Films production stars Lucia Bosé, Espartaco Santoni, Ewa Aulin, Ana Farra and Espartaco Santoni. It was originally titled: Ceremonia sangrienta in Spain and Le vergini cavalcano la morte in Italy.

Reviews:

“It’s slow, atmospheric, serious and ominous. Church bells, wolf howls, and harpsichord riffs are used deftly to keep the viewer on edge. It’s well acted and well shot, with authentic dark 18th century furnishings. But it’s unpleasant to watch and makes you unhappy.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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“This is really a very fine example of eurohorror, well-made and with an intelligent and complex script that comes together very satisfactorily.” Cult Movie Reviews

“The cinematography is handled skillfully, the tone is downright serious, the acting doesn’t border on campy, and the gothic trappings are of the highest caliber, from authentic castles and old-world exteriors to striking period costume designs.” DVD Drive-In

“That the film originated as a personal project is obvious from the start. Despite plenty of visceral material, it’s a sombre and thoughtful affair, boasting a sophisticated focus on Erzsébet’s insecurity and accumulated guilt together with a sardonic critique of the mob mentality that holds sway directly outside her castle.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

“It would be unfair to mention that Grau is more than just a competent filmmaker. Both his included films show some fine attention to visual detail, but he too suffers from disinterest in anything non-exploitative. It just seems too hard for producers to realise that the context in which their violence occurs can serve to make the image stronger.” Ric Meyers, For One Week Only

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

“While the film takes a little while to get going, an excellent last half ensures that this one delivers all the thrills and chills you’d expect from a seventies era European vampire picture. Grau directs with a pretty steady hand and paces the movie quite deliberately, building to a wholly satisfying conclusion…” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“The film itself, unusually, has very little of the gothic sumptuousness that one would expect. Grau draws a cold film around us – and this works as the subject matter suits such coldness. The jump in narrative is problematic on first view – though after that one knows that the narrative has been less jumped and more delayed.” Taliesin Meets the Vampires

“Languid pacing aside, the flick has a solid enough premise. It’s not altogether unwatchable, yet it’s slow and talky and it takes its sweet as time getting going. There’s still some cool sh*t here and there (the highlight comes when the townspeople cut the head off of a suspected vampire and burn it so nothing but the skull is left)…” The Video Vacuum

 

Cast and characters:

  • Lucia Bosé … Erzebeth Bathory – Something Creeping in the Dark
  • Espartaco Santoni … Karl Ziemmer – Lisa and the Devil
  • Ewa Aulin … Marina – Death Smiles at Murder
  • Ana Farra … Nodriza
  • Silvano Tranquilli … Médico – The Black Belly of the Tarantula; Web of the SpiderThe Horrible Dr. Hichcock
  • Lola Gaos … Carmilla
  • Enrique Vivó … Alcalde
  • María Vico … Maria Plojovitz
  • Ángel Menéndez … Magistrado
  • Adolfo Thous … Juez
  • Ismael García Romen … Capitán (as Ismael García-Romeu)
  • Raquel Ortuño … Irina
  • Loreta Tovar … Sandra (as Dolores Tovar)
  • Franca Grey … Nadja
  • Ghika … Inge
  • Miguel Buñuel … Secretario
  • Fabián Conde … Alguacil
  • Estanis González … Posadero
  • Antonio Puga … Olaus
  • Francisco Agudín … Cartero
  • Antonio De Mossul … Halconero (as Antonio de Mossul)
  • Rafael Vaquero … Pintor (as Rafael Vakero)
  • Roberto Daniel … Plojovitz
  • Ángel Rodal … Joven Mario
  • Juan José Otegui … Criado
  • Ramón Pons … Periodista
  • Mari Paz Ballesteros … Criada (as Mª Paz Ballesteros)
  • Sergio Alberti … Sargento
  • Sofía Nogueras … Niña
  • Kino Pueyo … Mozo posada (as Joaquín Pueyo)
  • Fernando De Bran … Párroco (as Fernando de Bran)
  • Rafael Frías … Niño a caballo

Filming locations:

  • Estudios Ballesteros, Madrid, Spain
  • Nuevo Baztán, Madrid, Spain
  • Pedraza de la Sierra, Segovia, Castilla y León, Spain
  • Sepúlveda, Madrid, Spain

Related:

Countess Dracula (1970)

Spanish horror

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Image credits: Wrong Side of the Art!

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