Written by: John White on January 1st, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1960
Director: Giorgio Ferroni
Cast:Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel, Wolfgang Preiss, Herbert A.E. Böhme, Dany Carrel
DVD released: March 16, 2004
Approximate running time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66.1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono French
DVD Release: Mondo Macabro
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $17.99
Synopsis: A young artist, Hans (Brice), travels to make a study of a famous windmill owned by Professor Wahl (Boehme). Once there he meets Wahl’s daughter, Elfie (Gabel), who throws herself at him. This only serves to show Hans that he loves another, Liselotte (Carrel), and he decides to let Elfie down. However he is warned by Elfie’s father that she is very ill and sudden shock could kill her, and this seems to be the case when he spurns her advances. Remorseful, Hans becomes a nervous wreck and leaves the windmill thinking he has killed Elfie. Meanwhile Professor Wahl and ex-con Doctor Bolem have a dark secret to cover up.
Mill of the Stone Women is an excellent example of Italian Gothic. Made in 1960 the same year as Bava’s classic of the genre, La Maschera del demonio, Mill of the Stone Women seems to marry the storylines of House of Wax and Franju’s Les Yeux Sans Visage. The dark secret is a mixture of both films reveals and suitably macabre for this kind of film.
The film is beautifully produced with excellent art design and superb colour photography. The director aims for a creepiness and an almost expressionistic feel that it is at its best when Preiss and Boehme are on screen as the monsters they are. A couple of shots of Preiss’s eyes are the scariest thing in this film, so malevolent and hungry do they look. The film has a handsome cast with Gabel and Carrel being archetypes of the statuesque and the demure, and Brice does well as the artist lost in the Professor’s web.
Mill of the Stone Women is an excellent early example of Italian Horror which sits well alongside Bava and Freda’s masterpieces.
Mondo Macabro have produced a beautiful anamorphic transfer. Unfortunately, the colour does strobe at times and the quality of the source materials is not universally excellent – especially the hallucination sequence.
The sound is wonderful with 3 audio options offered – UK dub, US dub, French with English subs – I preferred the UK dub personally.
The extras include production notes and cast bios written by Pete Tombs, stills and poster gallery, deleted scenes and a trailer.
This is a good disc of a lost gem, the strobing is noticeable and a future release with this corrected would be an essential purchase for Italian Gothic fans.