Nightmare Castle is a suprisingly creepy and effective movie
Troy M. Ros | Northfield, MN | 10/17/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This review covers Nightmare Castle only, not Track of the Vampire, which is included on the 2 movie dvd. This is a surprisingly creepy and effective movie. Barbara Steele play two characters to great effect and after watching the movie twice I am calling it one of the best European gothic horrors of the 60's... once you get past the terrible dubbing and grainy print that is. There is a little bit of haunted house, crazy doctor, depraved torture, gorgeous babe and a story that is actually interesting and compelling.Barbara Steele plays two sisters, Jenny and Muriel. Muriel is married to a scientists, Dr. Arrowsmith (Paul Mueller), and they live in a castle along with a maid, butler and handyman. Muriel is having an affair with the handyman and they are caught by the doctor. He chains them up and tortures them for awhile before Muriel tells him that she has changed her will, and the castle and all of her money have been left to her sister, Jenny, who has been living in an asylum because she is somehow feeble. The doctor then kills both Muriel and her lover and next thing we know he arrives home with Muriel's sister, Jenny, as his new bride. The maid at at the house, Solange, has a severely scarred face and the doctor is working on some sort of serum based on human blood to restore beauty to her face. They also have plans to get Jenny committed permanently to the asylum so they can take over her newly inherited fortune. They start doing little things to push her over the edge and Jenny starts having strange nightmares. Jenny's doctor from the asylum, Dr. Joyce, is sent for by her husband to witness how unstable she has become. He arrives at the castle and after a day or two starts figuring out that Dr. Arrowhead and Solange are up to no good. Around this time the dead Muriel and her lover make an appearance at the castle seeking their revenge. Without spoiling the movie too much, I will say that Solange and Dr. Arrowhead start getting what is coming to them.The movie is 80 minutes long and I read at one review website that apparently there is another version on VHS with more footage. But this dvd version along with Track of The Vampire is barely more money than a rental which makes it a worthwhile purchase, especially because there are no plans at the moment for any company to re-release an longer version of this gem of a movie."
I Shall Astound the World!
spoono01 | Oviedo, FL | 04/25/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Track of the Vampire is a silly paste job done by AIP and Roger Corman in 1964, but it works on a so-bad-it's-good level. A confusing hodgepodge of witchcraft, vampirism(attacks in broad daylight!), a house of wax, and beatniks(?!). My favorite parts involve interpretive dance (a lot of girls leaping about in a gym) and the origin of quantum painting.
Jack Hill, without really meaning to, made one hell of a hooty cult film here. Recommended."
The Nightmare Track of the Vampire's Castle...
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/27/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Track of the Vampire (1966) aka Blood Bath
Produced by Roger Corman, co-written and co-directed by Jack Hill (Spider Baby) and Stephanie Rothman (The Student Nurses), the films stars (and I use the term liberally) William Campbell (Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte) and Lori Saunders ("Petticoat Junction"). Also appearing is former playmate Marissa Mathes (Ride Beyond Vengeance), Karl Schanzer (Dementia 13), Sandra Knight (Frankenstein's Daughter), Sid Haig (Spider Baby), Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange), and Roger Corman, himself, in an unaccredited role playing a character in a flashback sequence.
The film begins with a man, dressed like Zorro, creeping around darkened alleys of what looks to be a European city, given all the stonework present. He attacks a buxom girl, baring some fangs, so I guess this is the vampire the title refers to...after that we are now in a shabby bar populated by beatnik artist types, Sid Haig being one of them (he even has hair!). It's here we meet Daisy (Mathes), disenchanted girlfriend to one of the `artists'. After this interlude we then switch to Zorro chasing a girlie in an area that looks a lot like California. This chase sequence goes on for quite awhile, but, eventually, the man catches the girl on the beach and...now we're in a dance studio witnessing some pretty young things doing some sort of experimental boogie, and we get to meet Dorean (Saunders), Daisy's former roommate. Then we're back on the street with Daisy and she meets Antonio Sordi (Campbell), an artist who paints the most unusual pictures, known for their gruesomeness. Apparently he's looking for a new model, and Daisy fits the bill...we get a flashback, and then bye bye Daisy...some other junk happens, Patrick Magee shows up at Sordi, a jealous vindictive husband type who ends up taking an hot wax bath, then back to the beatniks, then Zorro attacks yet another woman...oh my aching head...the artist is looking for his missing girlfriend, and so on...sound confusing? Try watching it...eventually, like all things (notice I neglected to say `good' things), the film does come to an end, but hardly one worth sitting through all this celluloid mish mash.
If I had to choose one word to describe this film, I think confusing as hell (I know, I know that's three) fits the bill. After awhile things do sort of make sense, as you become aware there are like at least two separate movies here spliced together. It appears Roger Corman bought a European film, took the footage for a film Jack Hill was shooting, and gave it to Rothman, who then proceeded to shoot even more footage, and then edit it all together in a rather incomprehensible mess. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time. Pretty much all you can do is sit back, disconnect your logic circuits, and go along for the ride, if you're intent on watching this movie all the way through, like I did...I found some beer certainly didn't hurt, either. The main gist seemed to be an artist, with a strange ancestry, suffering from occasional vampiric possession, murders his models and then creates hideous paintings...or perhaps he paints and then kills the models, I'm not quite sure...I suppose it doesn't really matter. One thing this film has a lot of (besides confusion) is chase sequences, and really long ones, too. Seems like every ten minutes Zorro is chasing some other little girlie around. One thing I did learn while watching this film is that William Campbell runs like a girl. Seriously...watch the latter segment of him on the beach and Dorean and she's trying to get him to jump her bones...he flips out and runs down the beach arms a flailing...it's pretty funny. All in all, this is a good film if you're not particular about storylines, plots, and such...if you're looking for a more conventional tale, then you might try...
Nightmare Castle (1965)
Co-written and directed by Mario Caiano (Ulysses Against the Son of Hercules, Train for Durango), Nightmare Castle actually goes by quite a few names including The Faceless Monster, Night of the Doomed, Lovers Beyond the Tomb, Lovers from Beyond the Tomb, Orgasmo, and then the original Italian title Gil Amanti d'oltretomba. Starring in the movie is Barbara `I once worked with Fellini!' Steele (Black Sunday, The Pit and the Pendulum), along with Paul Muller (Barbed Wire Dolls), Helga Liné (Agent 077 - Mission Bloody Mary), Rik Battaglia (Shoot, Gringo... Shoot!), and Laurence Clift in his only on screen appearance.
The story begins pretty well, with some really creepy organ music, followed by the opening credits. After this we see a couple Stephen (Muller) and Muriel (Steele) Aerosmith (rock on!)...er, wait, it's Arrowsmith...he's a scientist, and she's, as far as I can tell, a boozehound (she'll later add trollop to her repertoire). Anyway, the two don't seem to get along too well, punctuated by what has to be the most awkward onscreen kiss I've ever seen (their lips don't actually touch so much as they mash their faces together), and we learn Stephen is preparing to leave for a conference or something, which he does, thus leaving his wife in the amorous arms of David (Battaglia), the strapping young stable hand...actually, he's really not that young, more like middle age, but he's a hell of a lot younger than Stephen. The two pitch their smoochy smoochy woo tent in the greenhouse, only to be caught by Stephen, as he really didn't leave at all (the sneak), and thus begins the whippings, and various other forms of tortuous punishment (Stephen is vindictive, if nothing else). Muriel and David do end up dying (sort of) for their transgressions, and normally the handsome estate and family fortune, which was all in Muriel's name, would go to Stephen, but because of her underlying hatred towards her husband, Muriel had fortuitously changed her will prior her demise, leaving everything to her up until recently institutionalized stepsister Jenny, who happens to look exactly like Muriel, the only difference being Jenny has blonde hair (Steele plays a dual role, donning a blonde wig to play the part of Jenny). Stephen plans now include marrying Jenny, preying on her delicate mental state, driving her back to the asylum, and assuming control of the family fortune...that is to say unless Muriel has anything to say about it...and she does...the vengeful little minx (I should say dead minx)...
Creaky doors, darkened crypts, dungeons, laboratories, hypodermic needles, candelabras, transfusions, whippings, electrocutions, bloodcurdling screams, acid drips, dead bodies...this film would seem to have it all...so why was I kinda down on it? Perhaps it was its excessively talky, painfully expository nature. Criminey...this is one of the more verbose movies I've seen in awhile. I don't mind a lot of communication if there's something to say, but for cripes sakes this is supposed to be a horror film...hit me with the scary visuals and some tension. Don't bore me to tears telling me what you're going to do (in great detail) prior to actually doing it...to be fair, the dialog was dubbed over, and poorly so...perhaps the original dialog with subtitles would have gone down better, but whatever....actually the first 20 minutes contained a whole lot of material, but then things slowed down, only picking up again within the last 15 minutes. There are a lot of things to like about this film, the main thing being Ms. Steele herself. She's very attractive, having a most distinctive appearance fitting ever so well within the genre, especially in term of her large, saucer-like, expressive peepers. She did pretty well here, presenting two, separate characters in Muriel, the saucy, strong-willed, sexy philanderer, and Jenny, the malleable, weak-willed bubblehead with the fractured psyche. As for the rest of the cast, they did so-so, the only other standout being the hammy (on rye bread, please) Muller as the wormy Stephen, who, incidentally, looks as if he could be a distant relative to Don Knotts. He really wasn't all that frightening as a villain type, but he was awfully sleazy, getting it on not only with the housekeeper, but also hooking up with his recently departed wife's stepsister. Part of his masterful plan involved inviting Jenny's therapist Dr. Derek Joyce (Clift) from the asylum to stay at the castle, which I didn't quite understand, but, apparently it was important to the plot that he be around, as to be the sane half of our protagonist duo. I did like the set pieces, along with the exteriors, as they really helped set the moody, gothic tones of the story, along with the creepy organ music. I did not like the piano music, though...it wasn't so much the piano music itself (which was pretty pedestrian), but the fact the same bit of music was used like 20 times...talk about monotonous. If you're a Steele fan, then you'll feel compelled to check this out, but if you're a casual viewer, you might want to start with Black Sunday (1960), an infinitely better film, and a lot more fun. My favorite scene involved Stephen hotwiring a bath for Dr. Joyce, and then things going not quite as planned...
Of the two features on this Madacy Entertainment release, Track of the Vampire definitely looked better, as the print of Nightmare Castle used for this DVD looks the same as it does on the Alpha Video release, that is murky, fuzzy, hazy, and altogether pretty poor. The audio is about the same on both, passable, but not great. In terms of special features, there are trailers for the two films, along with one for a movie titled Blood of Dracula (1957), which actually doesn't look half bad. There is also a Betty Boop cartoon (?!) titled Betty Boop's Bamboo Isle. Seems like a bizarre inclusion, but what they hey?
B-grade horror classics
z hayes | TX | 11/05/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I remember watching "Nightmare Castle" years ago, and was very pleased to come across this DVD recently (through an online rental site). Anyway, another reviewer has done a thorough job on his review of this DVD, so I shall just focus on a couple of points. I found the audio and print quality of "Track of the Vampire" to be much better than the audio and print quality of "Nightmare Castle". The dubbing on NC was just terrible, and the picture was grainy with a lot of background noise, all of which detracted from my enjoyment of the story.
"Track of the Vampire" which was produced by Roger Corman is a serial killer/vampire/ cursed artist movie of sorts, and I have to say that it is one of the most confusing and addled movies I have ever watched! The plot jumps from one story arc to another, from one scene to another, with barely any coherence, and I could not make much sense of it. I did figure things out eventually, but also got a headache in the process,lol.
On to "Nightmare Castle" - oh, I hope there is a better print of NC out there somewhere because I actually liked this B-horror classic. Mostly because Barbara Steele plays the dual role of sisters here - one brunette (Muriel) and the other blonde (Jenny). The brunette has an affair, and ends up being tortured and murdered (together with her lover) by her jealous scientist husband. Later, the husband marries the blonde sister (also Ms Steele) of his late, murdered wife which is all part of an evil plan to lay his hands on his late wife's fortune. He has an ally in a disfigured woman, Solange (Helga Line, who almost steals the show from Ms Steele) but of course, this is a B-horror movie after all - the dead return to exact their revenge!!!
I persevered in watching NC because I loved the story and acting, but I hated the bad dubbing job, and the grainy print quality. Hopefully, I'll be able to track down a more decent and watchable version of NC.