Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 22nd, 2015
BluRay released: August 18th, 2015
Approximate running times: 105 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
BluRay Release: Severin Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Synopsis: A jealous husband kills his wife and her lover. Not wanting to lose his deceased wives fortune to her sister. He marries his wives sister and with the help of his mistress they devise a plan to have her Institutionalized!
Nightmare Castle over the years has been release under a variety of different titles like The Faceless Monster and Night of the Doomed. The Italian language title for the film “Gli amanti d’oltretomba”, roughly translate into Lovers from Beyond the Tomb. Nightmare Castle was co-written and directed by Mario Caiano, whose other notable films include Bullets Don’t Argue, The Fighting Fists of Shangai Joe and Calling All Police Cars. The screenplay for Nightmare Castle was co-written by Fabio De Agostini, whose other notable screenwriting credits include In the Folds of the Flesh and The Red Nights of the Gestapo. Enzo Barboni the cinematographer on Nightmare Castle would become a director in his own right with some of his notable films including They Call Me Trinity…, Trinity Is Still My Name and A Man from the East. The score for Nightmare Castle was composed by Italian cinema’s most prolific and celebrated composer Ennio Morricone, whose diverse filmography includes The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Danger: Diabolik, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and The Untouchables.
One criticism that is often cited when discussing Nightmare Castle is that its languid plot quickly bogs things down. While there is some merit to these claims the plot for the most part moves along pretty quickly with nary a scene feeling drawn out or unnecessary. Visually is where Nightmare Castle excels with its baroque sense of style. The cinematography fully exploits the film’s main location. Some of the highlights include a scene where Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith tortures his wife Muriel and her lover and another standout scene is a dream sequences that Muriel’s sister Jenny has her first night at the castle.
The film’s four main characters are superbly portrayed by Barbara Steele, Paul Muller and Helga Liné. Barbara Steele is cast in the dual role of Muriel and Jenny. Performance wise she is cast in familiar shoes and fans of her other Gothic horror films are sure to enjoy her dual performance in this film. Paul Muller is cast in the role of Muriel’s sadistic husband Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith. With a career that has spanned over fifty years Paul Muller is probably most remembered for his numerous collaborations with director Jess Franco. Some of his other notable films include I vampire, Malenka and Tragic Ceremony. The most impressive performance in the film comes from Helga Liné in the role of Solange, Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith’s maid / mistress. When her character Solange is first introduced she is decrepit old woman. After the death of Muriel she is given back her youth when Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith gives her his deceased wife’s blood. Her transformation in the film is further exaggerated since Helga Liné without the old woman make-up looks drop dead gorgeous. Some of her other notable films include Kriminal, So Sweet… So Perverse, Dracula Saga, My Dear Killer, The Vampires’ Night Orgy, Horror Rises from the Tomb and The Loreley’s Grasp. Ultimately Nightmare Castle is an underrated horror film that gets better with each new viewing.
Nightmare Castle comes on a 50 GB dual layer (45.4 GB) BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This new transfer from Severin Films is a marked improvement in every way when compared to their previous release for this film. Black levels and shadow details look consistently strong, with image clarity being the one area that shows the largest leap in regards to improvement. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression and grain looks natural throughout.
Here is a breakdown of the file sizes for the three features included with this release, Nightmare Castle (18.4 GB), Terror Creatures from the Grave (9.8 GB) and Castle of Blood (9.6 GB).
Nightmare Castle comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English. There are no issues with distortion or background noise and dialog always comes through clearly. Range though things sound rather limited, it is too be expected considering the limitations of the mono source. Also the more ambient aspects of soundtrack fare well, everything sounds balanced and the film’s score sounding appropriately robust.
Extras for Nightmare Castle include, the UK trailer for the film under the title of Night of the Doomed (3 minutes 23 seconds), the U.S. release trailer (1 minute 22 seconds), an interview with co-screenwriter / director Mario Caiano (14 minutes 5 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles), an interview with actress Barbara Steele (29 minutes 29 seconds) and an audio commentary with Barbara Steele and Horror Historian David Del Valle.
Topics discussed in the interview with Mario Caiano include, Edgar Allan Poe’s influence on him as a filmmaker, Gothic horror films, Nightmare Castle and what inspirations led to its making, the cast – Barbara Steele, Paul Muller, Rik Battaglia ad Helga Liné, why he choose to shoot the film in black and white and Ennio Morricone’s score for the film.
The interview with Barbara Steele is career spanning discussion where she vividly recalls details about all the key films that she has appeared in and she also has plenty to say about actors and filmmakers that she worked with throughout her career.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary track include, her work within the Gothic film genre and Italian cinema in general, Mario Bava, Riccardo Freda and Mario Caiano, they also discuss the differences between Italian horror films and the horror films that were being made in Hollywood during the 1960’s. Other topics of discussion include, production related topics about Nightmare Castle.
Other extras include tow feature films, Terror Creatures from the Grave (84 minutes – 1080 progressive widescreen, in English) and Castle of Blood (82 minutes 25 seconds – 1080 progressive widescreen, in English).
Extras for Terror Creatures from the Grave include, the U.S. trailer for the film (1 minute 37 seconds), deleted scenes (14 minutes 16 seconds, in French with English subtitles) and a featurette titled ‘Vengeance from Beyond’ (26 minutes 18 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) with comments from Italian film historian Fabio Melelli, actor Riccardo Garrone and director Massimo Pupillo (via an audio interview from 1993).
The featurette titled ‘Vengeance from Beyond’ starts off slowly as the main participant Fabio Melelli often answers that he can’t remembered anything about this film. Eventually his memory gets better as he remembers a moment regarding his love scene in the film and how the director wanted him to suck on the actresses’ nipple. From there Barbara Steele is discussed and it is revealed why Massimo Pupillo used the alias Ralph Zucker for this film. Also Massimo Pupillo discusses the influence of German expressionism on the films he directed.
Extras for Castle of Blood include, the U.S. trailer for the film (1 minute 37 seconds) and a featurette titled ‘A Dance of Ghosts’ (16 minutes 52 seconds, in Italian with English subtitles) with comments from Italian film historian Fabio Melelli and director Antonio Margheriti (via a vintage audio interview).
Topics discussed in the featurette titled ‘A Dance of Ghosts’ include, how Sergio Corbucci was originally approached to direct this film and that Corbucci was the main reason why Marghertti ended up directing the film, the look of the film, the story behind the alias Anthony M. Dawson, the cast and Fabio Melelli concludes this extra with his thoughts on the film.
Overall not only has Severin Films given Nightmare Castle its best audio/ video presentation to date. They have thrown in two additional features also starring Barbara Steele and a wealth of extra content, highly recommended.
Terror Creatures from the Grave