Tuesday, January 17, 2017

roy castle.

Not one but two Barbara Steele's.

And one is in a blonde wig!

What's not to love?

Apart from the nonsensical plot obviously.

Nightmare Castle (AKA The Faceless Monster, 1965).
Dir: Mario Caiano.
Cast: Barbara Steele, Paul Müller, Helga Liné, Marino Masé, Rik Battaglia

and Giuseppe Addobbati.

You, I will kill you, you tart, you. You and your filthy friend. But death, my dear, must come to you only after I've torn from your bodies all the suffering and pain a human being can stand, and you don't know yet how long it takes to die of pain!



Full-time mad scientist cum part-time street dancer Dr Stephen Arrowsmith (Surrealist horse-visaged Müller from Vampyros Lesbos)  and the stunningly beautiful - and filthily rich - Lady Muriel (Genre Goddess Steele, no introduction necessary) are trapped in a loveless marriage, their bouts of arguing and sniping punctuated by long, uncomfortable silences and knowing looks from their geriatric (tho' she may just be maid of Plasticine it's hard to tell) maid Solange (the luscious Liné from The Loreley's Grasp).

Reminds me of my childhood.

Without the hot German help obviously.

Ours was Swedish.

And a man as I found out on my 15th birthday.

But I digress.

Obviously then our high-cheeked hottie is very happy to find that her horrid hubbie is going away to Edinburgh for a week long mad scientist conference giving her plenty of time to indulge in copious amounts of 'the sex' with David the hunky gardener (billiards-derived indoor table game and star of Yellow Emanuelle, Battaglia).

Which is nice.

As Stephen heads off to Edinburgh Muriel excitedly - and quite saucily for the early 60s - slips into her best flowing nightie and makes her way to the greenhouse to await for David to work some of his green-fingered magic on her lady garden.

Well it does look like her bush needs pruning.

Sorry.

Stills don't get more erotic than this.



Unfortunately neither Muriel nor David realize that Stephen suspects their indiscretion and has been secretly hiding behind the bins waiting for a signal from Solange and catching them In flagrante delicto (which I'm assuming is a fancy word for a greenhouse) springs his trap.

In a metaphorical way that is, it's not like he has some huge Heath Robinson contraption rigged up behind the rose bushes tho' given his bizarre torture methods later I wouldn't be surprised.

Chaining the couple up in the basement (ah memories) an angry Arrowsmith proceeds to beat the couple with a riding crop whilst waxing lyrical about the nature of love pain and death for what seems like hours before finally tying Murial to a bed before dripping acid onto her favourite dress.

The scoundrel.

But Muriel is defiant to the last, taunting her husband with the fact that she has left her entire fortune to her insane step-sister Jenny.

If she dies then sinister Stephen is out on his ear and penniless.

Unfortunately (for Muriel and David that is) Stephen doesn't care and happily kills the adulterous couple.

His excuse?

He needs their blood for his anti-aging experiments and his supply of frog plasma has run out.

This is important because he's promised to rejuvenate Solange as a thank you for spying on his wife.

Sounds legit.

Here come the Belgians!


But what about the will I hear you cry/type?

Stephen has it all in hand as within a few days of his wifes death he's gone to the local asylum and taken Jenny's hand in marriage.

Tho' seeing as she too is played by the lovely Babs (in a fetching blonde wig) he'd be a fool not to want the rest as well.

Solange is obviously not happy about this - you see she reckoned that now she's all young and sexy again that she’d have the doctor all to herself.

But Stephen is playing the long game.

As in he has a fairly complicated plan not that he's re-watching the rather insipid Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who episode where Simon Pegg takes his orders from a roof mounted CGI shite.

Mixing up a powerful hallucinogen in his lab (as you do) he instructs Solange to pop it into Jenny’s bedtime brandy, hoping that this little mix will kickstart her mentalism sending her screaming back to the funny farm whilst he laughs all the way to the bank.

Give him his dues as a doctor tho' because the homemade druggy draught appears to have the desired effect, as that night poor Jenny has nightmarish visions that would put William Burroughs (or Micheal Barrymore) to shame as the deafening sound of heart beats echo around the castle walls our maid of mental illness 'wakes' to find herself trapped in a stone sarcophagus only to be 'rescued' by the ghostly figure of Dave the gardener who then proceeds to ravish her with soft kisses.

Just as you think there might be a chance of a quick peek at Bab's slender thigh tho' a scarily stocking faced man with a riding crop appears and begins to beat David around the head.

With the strength of a woman possessed  Jenny attacks this masked menace only to wake suddenly with her hands clamped around Stephen's scrawny bird-like neck. throat.

Quickly slapping some sense into her Stephen heads off to his lab, pleased with the effect of the drug on Jenny.

Tho' in my experience if he'd have wanted to make a woman act like a total fruitcake he'd have been cheaper just buying her a bottle of cooking sherry and 10 Silk Cut before taking her to the local kiddies playpark for the evening.

As a teen this scenario always ended with me tied to a swing whilst my date flicked matches at me.

Which explains a lot.

"Brexit means Brexit!"


Discussing the previous nights madness with Solange, Stephen is shocked to discover that the mucky maid - being female so obviously unable to follow simple instructions - actually gave Jenny a totally harmless sugar solution by mistake  so the drippy doc deduces that just being married to him and living in her dead sisters house may be enough to trigger her breakdown.

Jobs a good 'un as they say.

But this is a spooky ghost type mystery and we're only half an hour in so - against all laws of logic and common sense - Stephen for reasons best known to himself and director Mario Caiano and writer Fabio De Agostini (he of the expensive partwork fame) immediately summons the suave science guy Dr. Derek Joyce ( Masé AKA Lawrence Clift whom you may remember as John in Tenebrae), who is not only a dead ringer for Matt LeBlanc of Friends/Top Gear fame but also  Jenny’s old psychiatrist, to the castle in order to observe her condition.

Oh and hopefully strip naked and cover himself in chip fat whilst dancing provocatively.

No?

Just me then.

"Aye son!"
 
But with Stephen being a (mad) man of science and Solange being, well a bit fick the pervy pair totally fail to grasp the fact that  Jenny’s descent into madness may in fact be caused by the ghost of her sister and her lover.

But to be honest if I was in their situation I probably wouldn't see that coming either.

Tho' if I were married to Barbara Steele beating her to death with a poker would be the last thing on my mind.

Before long, Dr. Joyce too is witnessing strange phenomena in this nightmare castle - from blood dripping from the pot that holds Muriel's ashes to the dual heartbeats echoing thru' the walls via badly dubbed laughter echoing down the corridors and strange shadowy figures behind the gooseberry bushes.

Throwing caution - and science - to the wind Joyce is soon convinced that someone or something has supernatural designs on Jenny.

But to what end?

As all these supernatural shenanigans are going down (as the kids say) Stephen and Solange have altered their plans, deciding to kill Joyce as well as Jenny and as our hero prepares for a long hot soak before bed Stephen is busy electrifying the bath.....

Will Joyce save Jenny or will he fry like a massive man-titted haddock?
 
Will Stephen explain how he manage to discover that frog blood can make ladies younger?

And will anyone asked about the double heart family crest that Stephen is so keen to show everyone?

Laugh now.


Mad, bad and dangerous to view (especially in the aforementioned truncated version, writer/director Mario Caiano (AKA Allan Grunewald) has everything required to produce a top-notch Eurohorror - a sexually charged plot festooned with vengeful spirits, a mad scientist attempting to hold back death, an insane hottie in a sheer nightie and a big scary castle.

And all shot in glorious black and white.

Add to this a cast that includes the frankly fantastic Barbara Steele at her otherworldly best ably supported by the camp as pants Paul Müller alongside the gorgeous Helga Liné and topped off with a lush Ennio Morricone score and you should have an instant classic.

But whilst enjoyable enough in its own way Nightmare Castle lacks a certain something in its execution, the direction is flat, the script is nonsensical and the air of kinky menace the film teases us with disappears almost as quick as Helga Liné's comedy 'old lady' make-up.

As a plus point it does feature Babara Steele stripping down to a magnificent corset before donning a blonde pound shop wig only half as ludicrous as the one Asia Argento sports in The Stendahl Syndrome so it's not a total loss.

Which if I'm honest just about sums up my life in a nutshell.

Be seeing you.

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