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HorrorBabble Theater Presents: The Halloween Experiment

by Tony Nash

(Spoilers Ahead)

(All Opinions are of the Author alone)

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The Red Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
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The Blue Room (from HorrorBabble’s Facebook)
May be an image of text that says 'THE "GREEN" ROOM HORRORBABBLE'
The Greed Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
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The White Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)
May be an image of text that says 'THE "BLACK" ROOM HORRORBABBLE'
The Black Room (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

The Halloween Experiment: The Red Room (Part 1) *****/The Blue Room (Part 2) *****/The Green Room (Part 3) *****/The White Room (Part 4) ****/The Black Room (Part 5) ****/The Final Log (Part 6) ****1/2 (2021) R

Ian Gordon: Dr. Stephan Helm/Mr. Finkle/Mr. Alan Morris/Prof. Conrad Derickson/’Lisa’/Craig Michael Jeffries

Jennifer Gill: Ms. Lila Hennessy/The Nature Sprite//Spirit/Mrs. Matilda Jeffries/Dr. Alicia Ramsey

Written by: Ian Gordon

Produced by: Ian Gordon & Jennifer Gill

Synopsis: Psychologist Dr. Stephan Helm has offered help to 6 different people suffering from strange trauma in the form of his new treatment method, Project Delusion, in which patients are placed in specially colored rooms corresponding to their conditions in the hopes this will help them face their fears. Soon, very odd things begin to happen.

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The Red Room Plain Background (HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian Gordon and Jennifer Gill, the duo behind the fantastic HorrorBabble, mixing public domain Classic Horror and newer Horror fiction, have done it again with Ian’s new Halloween Mini Series appropriately titled The Halloween Experiment. The setting is late October 1976, and an idealistic German doctor gives the first test of his new psychiatric treatment called ‘Project Delusion’, in which patients with phobias/traumas triggered by the sight of a specific color are placed in special rooms corresponding to said color to aid in recovery. Dr. Helm’s plan is to use the colors in full force to help his patients see what they believe are real creatures are in fact creations of their subconscious to represent phobias that began either from childhood fears/trauma, or are the result of overwork. At first, it simply appears that the physical representations of the patients’ delusions are in fact real, and have managed to breach the Doc’s secure environment to finish what they started, but when the Doc’s abusive mother appears in the vision of a female patient suffering from a split personality disorder, something much stranger appears to be in the works. Are the creatures killing and/or kidnapping the Doc’s patients real, or is something in the Doc’s own psyche and personal life causing all the Horror coming down upon those he wished to help?

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The Black Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian makes the Special very unique and interesting by having it be a mixture of character monologue and conversational tape recordings between the Dt. Helm and the respective patient. Even more interesting is that the majority of Helm’s dialogue is in the form of tape recording, showing the distance he has with the patients. This mixture works very well as it seamlessly combines theater-esque performances and the general audio recordings of short fiction, forming a unique and different experience that is very exciting.

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The Blue Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian offers up a very interesting performance as the main character Dr. Stephan Helm. Little is presented about Helm in the first four episodes of the Mini Series, other than that he is a dedicated Psychologist looking for new means to help those who have managed to form complex physical manifestations of their varied fears and phobias. Helm is certain these manifestations are like those of most psychiatric patients: the result of some form of trauma, either from childhood or recent happenings. Project Delusion, Helm’s experimental treatment being tested for the first time, deals primarily in manifestations brought about by seeing color, and special rooms are crafted where everything is painted or purchased in that specific color to help the patient ease into discussing what happened to them, and hopefully, be able to confront their issues head on so they can be free of the crippling fear induced by the event. As the week progresses, Helm watches as his patients are killed, or are mysteriously whisked away (often presumed dead), by the beings of their fears taking real form. With each day, Helm slowly beings to doubt his own rational sanity as he sees more and more bizarre occurrences. This comes to a full head when the spirit of Helm’s Mother appears in the vision of his final patient, forcing Helm to come face to face with a long buried trauma of his own.

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The White Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

In the first experiment, Ian takes the role of Helm’s first patient Mr. Finkle, a working class laborer. Financial and Economic troubles have forced Finkle into temporary and minimal jobs that leave him just the ultimate minimum to survive. Finkle’s fear of ending up destitute, homeless, and worried he’ll be found dead in the shady apartment building he’s forced to live in led to his doctor prescribing him sleeping pills to help him, which led to narcotic dependency. At first believing the pills were causing him to hallucinate, Finkle becomes convinced an entity has taken the form of a mini blood red blob of corned-beef that tried to attack and eat him. Helm watches in terror as the blob appears in the Red Room and finishes off Finkle. Experiment three has Ian assuming the role of Mr. Alan Morris, a recluse with an insatiable love of apples. Morris admits his obsession comes from childhood, mainly from having been bullied and teased. Now his love of apples has become a nightmare as a mysterious being sent him a basketful that have been filled with something to cause a tree to grow inside of him. This episode is refreshingly comic in its telling, Morris more concerned that some nature spirit or sprite is trying to make him a part of the forest. Experiment four has a fellow medical man as Helm’s patient, Conrad Derickson. Derickson’s specialty is the study of dreams and the mind, and his theory insists that men can control their surroundings if in the right state. Encouraged by a boy who has the ability naturally, Derickson accesses a small portion of the power, but having to deny himself sleep to achieve the goal has left him hallucinating and unable to control his the power. ‘Lisa’ is Ian’s masterful take on a female voice, a woman who’s personality split in two after hearing of a friend’s brutal murder. ‘Lisa’ is the serious side of the two, ‘Mel’ being the fun one. The two have been forcibly separated and ‘Lisa’ is trying find ‘Mel’, and this attempt leads to ‘Lisa”s discovery of Dr. Helm’s past

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The Green Room Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Jennifer Gill, Ian’s partner and HorrorBabble co-founder, offers up equally impressive performances of her own, particularly as Ms. Lila Hennessy. Ms. Hennessy is a photographer by trade, and while shooting promotional photos for an Aquarium business, discovers something very strange. At first believing her always busy schedule has led her to feel fatigue, what Ms. Hennessy sees in the photo makes her see different. What she describes she calls The Fishbowl Man, an amalgamation of everyday objects that take humanoid form in another universe or dimension, the name coming from the being’s head being a fishbowl, and goldfish making up its eyes. Believing the being wants to destroy her for having caught it on camera, exposing another world to humanity, Hennessy attempts to counteract the creature’s actions by purchasing the goldfish. She quickly realizes this was a mistake as the creature transports itself to her lodgings, looking for its eyes. The blue color of the creature causes Hennessy to freak out around anything blue colored. Hennessy tells the doctor she feels cured as she believes the Fishbowl Man no longer wants revenge because she destroyed all her prints and the negative as well, hoping it believes she’ll take her knowledge of its world to the grave, only for Helm to watch in helpless shock as the room Hennessy’s in fills with water, drowning her. Gill also provides the voice for the chirpy Nature entity looking to make Mr. Morris a part of the its world, and the voice of Helm’s stern, abusive mother.

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The Final Log Plain Background (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

In a very surprising and interesting twist, it’s revealed that Stephan Helm is really psychiatric patient Craig Michael Jeffries, suffering from multiple personality disorder. As a child, Jeffries witnessed in utter terror as his mother brutally murdered his father, was forced to help her dispose of the body, and was subjected by her to unending psychological trauma. Helm, along with Mr. Finkle, Ms. Hennessy, Mr. Morris, Prof. Derickson, and ‘Lisa’, were all the personalities that resulted from Jeffries being unable to initially cope with all that happened to him. Helm’s experiment, Project Delusion, is revealed to in fact have been an experiment called The Halloween Experiment by Jeffries’ doctor Alicia Ramsey to help him break through his disorder. Dr. Helm was discovered to have been the strongest and dominate of the personalities, thus a special treatment involving summoning each personality via color was necessary to placate Helm’s control of the others, allowing each of Jeffries’ traumas to be confronted and overcome. Helm himself is destroyed when a vision of Mrs. Jeffries appears in personality ‘Lisa’s’ final moments, the fear Jeffries had of her being strong enough to break control from Helm. By letting Helm believe he was still in charge, Ramsey was able to help Jeffries come to terms with his horrifying and tragic childhood, thus freeing him from Helm and his mother, his personality finally being restored to normal.

HorrorBabble Logo (from HorrorBabble Facebook)

Ian Gordon once again provides fans of his site, and audiences in general, with a very refreshing and new take on the Creature Horror genre and Psychological Horror genre. The mixture of tape recording sounding audio and traditional storytelling monologue blends well together to make a perfect harmony, and the performances of Ian and Jennifer are brilliant.

(I highly recommend giving this six part series a listen to. It’s well written, and both Ian Gordon and Jennifer always give their best with every reading/performance. I was thoroughly surprised by the twist ending in part six, didn’t expect that revelation at all. That Mrs. Jeffries, who was the source of all her son’s problems ended up being the one destroying the controlling Dr. Helm personality ended up being a nice ironic touch. Ian proves once again with this how excellent of a writer he his. Please check out not only this special, but the HorrorBabble YouTube channel in general as both Ian and Jennifer give great readings of public domain classic Horror.)

All images courtesy of the HorrorBabble Facebook page

to listen to the series

The Halloween Experiment -The Red Room: Part 1
The Halloween Experiment -The Blue Room: Part 2

The Halloween Experiment – The Green Room: Part 3
The Halloween Experiment – The White Room: Part 4
The Halloween Experiment – The Black Room: Part 5
The Halloween Experiment – The Final Log: Part 6

Link to HorrorBabble’s YouTube page

Filed under: Film & TV: Potpourri, Film: Special Topics

Tis the Season 2 B Scary!!!!!!!

From Tony Nash, the MOVIE FAN MAN

To all my Followers, those I’m Following, and all Curious Visitors

Happy Halloween Puppet Show | Events | Pima County Public Library

Have a happy day, and for those who take their kids trick-or-treating, stay safe.

Filed under: Annoucements

The Italians Try Grimm Fairy Tales

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #5)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the Original Italian Language version) Queens of Evil [Blu-ray] : Haydee Politoff, Silvia Monti,  Evelyn Stewart, Ray Lovelock, Gianni Santuccio, Geraldine Hooper, Tonino  Cervi: Movies & TV

Original Poster (from Amazon)

Le Regine (Queens of Evil/The Queens) (1970) ****1/2 R

Ida Gialli: Bibiana (as Ewelyn Stuart)

Silvia Monti: Samantha

Haydee Politoff: Liv

Ray Lovelock: David the Hippie (as Raymond Lovelock)

Gianni Santuccio: The Mysterious Man/The Devil

Guido Alberti: The Priest

Written by: Benedetto Benedetti, Tonino Cervi, and Raoul Katz

Directed by: Tonino Cervi

Synopsis: A wandering Hippie stops to help a stranded older gentlemen on the road, only for the man to betray the Hippie’s act of generosity. When the man dies during the Hippie’s attempt to confront him on the act, the Hippie flees, thinking the cops saw him. He ends up in an isolated farmhouse owned by three sisters who welcome him warmly. Soon, the Hippie begins to experience a drastic change in his personality, and the sisters seem to exhort more control over him.

Queens of Evil (1970) | MUBI
The Foursome at a Party (from Mubi)

Lesser known Italian filmmaker Tonino Cervi brought the Fairy Tale back to its dark origins with the film Le Regine. Instead of doing a spin on one of the known tales, Cervi, along with his co-writers, crafted a totally original story that not only compliments on the stories that came before it, but adds new life to the age old concepts of magics. The three protagonists are sisters who share some kind of power, left open if it be natural power gifted from nature, or powers from otherworldly sources. When a Hippie fleeing from the police for a crime he didn’t commit stumbles upon what he believes is their home, they offer him shelter and protection, with the secret intent of playing a game with him as the prey. Cervi also weaves in subtext of the nature of relationships between men and women, particularly in regards to sex, as during the film’s progression the main male character slowly begins to lose his independent will while the seemingly shy women also begin to exhibit stronger signs of dominance and power over him, all while playing with his mind in ever increasing surreal moments. Each sister also shows her strong sexual prowess as they each at one point lure the unsuspecting young men into their beds for a night of passion.

Queens of evil 1970 Le regine | free downloand| Download movie
The Surreal Bibiana (from Wipfilms)
Blu Review – Queens of Evil (Mondo Macabro) - Horror Society
The Surreal Samantha (from Horror Society)
Queens of Evil
The Surreal Liv (from Mondo-Digital)

The notion of magics are taken to a new level with Le Regine, reminding viewers that there’s more to those arts than meets the eye, and the power behind them something that can’t be fully understood. At varying moments of the film, the character David experiences what can only be described as lucid nightmares, seeing things that are out of the ordinary world that can’t possibly be real, but are very vivid and lifelike at the same time. The question that arises for viewers is whether these visions are the result of David’s own psyche as he’s out in the middle of nowhere with three eccentric sisters who he assumes practice Pagan Earth rites, or are the sisters manipulating his mind with whatever kind of power they’ve learned or have been gifted. The camera and lighting of these scenes are very well done and are atmospheric, reminding audiences of pop art images.

Queens Of Evil (1970) — The Movie Database (TMDB)
The Sisters as They Are (from The Movie Database)
The Sisters When They Practice Magicks (from Amazon)

Italian actresses Ida Galli (credited under her Anglo stage name Ewelyn Stuart) and Silvia Monti, and French actress Haydee Politoff give mesmerizing and sultry performances as the three sisters. While they share bonds over many things, the sisters are unique in their own ways. Galli as Bibiana is the oldest of the sisters. Bibiana is the mature, quiet, and matronly sibling, preferring to keep to her hobbies and the practices she and her sister engage in. Like any woman though, Bibiana has her sexual desires, and as the trio become more and more powerful over their prey David, she uses her sensitive and motherly wiles to lure the young man to her bed as her sisters listen from their rooms, a little jealous, but also respecting each other’s wants and needs.. Monti as Samantha is the most adventurous of the siblings. Samantha doesn’t have Bibiana’s experiences, but she has a lust and zest for life, those passions exhilerated by the presence of David. She is in fact the fist sister to seduce David, impressing him and frightening him simultaneously while riding on his motorcycle, and then luring him to a secluded beach where she chases him into delirium before letting letting him caress her. Politoff plays the youngest sister Liv. Liv appears to be entering into the final stages of womanhood. She has the quietness and sensitivity of Bibiana and the curiousness of Samantha, but has her own down to earth personality. She is the first to meet David, but the last to seduce him, and in fact develops the kind of infatuation that first loves tend to produce. While jealous that her sisters can take David at will, Liv realizes it’s an element of the game, and she’ll have him soon enough.

Blu Review – Queens of Evil (Mondo Macabro) - Horror Society
The Unsuspecting David (from Horror Society)

British Italian actor Ray Lovelock (credited as Raymond Lovelock) gives a very interesting performance as David. A Wandering Hippie who believes in free love and freedom without constraint, David travels the world searching for his paradise. When he shows some good will to a stranded motorist, he gets an unusual lecture about the dangers of too many women lovers, and that settling into a proper marriage is the way to go. After the motorist betrays his kindness, David tries to find out why, only to watch in horror as the man crashes his car into a tree, dying on impact. Fearing he’ll be accused of murder, David flees, ending up in an isolated barn in the woods. Initially, he suspects nothing amiss with the sisters he soon decides to live with, believing they practice a form of Pagan faith system that focuses on giving thanks to Nature in varied ways. It isn’t too long before David notices a change to both his physical health and mental state. At the start he seems very viral and full of passions but as time passes, he begins to lose confidence in himself, becoming more and more dependent on the women in some way or another. When each sister takes him sexually is when he seems most alive, sharing carnal passions with each woman in different fashions. David has no idea what kind of change has come over him, but knows there’s something not right in his well being, feeling free, but yet somehow at a kind of mercy to the sisters, alternating between periods of bliss and periods of near psychedelic visions/nightmares that may or may not be warnings should he continue to stay where he is.

Queens of Evil
David Explores Eerie Woods (from Mondo Digital)

Rarely seen outside of Europe and Japan until recently, Le Regine is fine rare gem of a film, boasting a fine mix of horror, fantasy, and trippy psychedelia. Concepts of sexual relations between men and women get tested, as well as the concept of what true freedom may very well entail, and what anyone is really willing to give up or compromise on in the name of life and love.

(I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something different in the Horror genre. While it does play more to the realm of Dark Fantasy than Horror, the film still offers the occasional creepy moment and atmosphere as the unwitting David is drawn deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. Tonino Cervi succeeds ten times over in keeping audiences in the dark as to what’s really going on, mixing eyepopping colors, and clever cinematography tricks. The Blu Ray from Mondo-Macabro, marking the film’s debut in US Home Media, looks fabulous, the visuals very immaculate and gorgeous and the audio clear and crisp. I haven’t watched the English dub, but did find the Italian original very even and clear, and superb English subtitle translation. Well worth a purchase)

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

When the Sins of the Ancestors…..Come to Their Kin

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #4)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original French language version)

Michel Lemoine –
French Poster (from Home Popcorn)

 Les Week-ends Maléfiques du Comte Zaroff (7 Femmes Pour un Sadique/The Malicious Weekend of Count Zaroff/7 Women for the Sadist/7 Women for Satan) (1976) **** 1/2 NC-17

Michel Lemoine: Count Boris Zaroff

Howard Vernon: Karl, the Butler/Karl’s Father

Joelle Coeur: Anne de Baoisryvault

Sophie Grynholc: Zaroff’s Secretary

Martine Azencot: Joelle

Nathalie Zeiger: Muriel

Robert de Laroche: Francis (as Robert Icaret)

Patricia Mionett: Jeanne

Maria Mancini: Stephane/Stephanie

Written & Directed by: Michel Lemoine (loosely inspired by The Most Dangerous Game [1932] and the novelette by Richard Connell)

Synopsis: Aristocratic businessman Boris Zaroff is haunted by hallucinations of himself torturing and killing young women. His father, the original Count Zaroff, had 40 years previously hunted people for sport until he was killed by his own hunting dogs. Boris has inherited his father’s debauched interests, and the son of his father’s servant will do whatever it takes to see that Boris embraces his evil lineage.

Seven Women for Satan (1976) | MUBI
A Beautiful Victim (from Mubi)

Actor/Filmmaker Michel Lemoine, at the height of his independent career, decided to tackle the Horror genre in a new and different way. In keeping with his desire to highlight people’s erotic tendencies, Lemoine employs sex and romance as a catalyst for the tragedies to befall his characters. Inspired by the Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack film The Most Dangerous Game (and the 1920’s short story by Richard Connell), Lemoine devised an unofficial sequel that focused on the son of the villainous Count Zaroff, and the man’s struggle to avoid continuing his father’s trail of terror. What soon follows is a bizarre game of human morality vs. base instincts and human and otherworldly forces fight for control of Boris’ soul and mind. While scenes of extended nudity and simulated sensual acts are abundant within the film, Lemoine in no way uses them for the simple shock value, though some sequences even now might still have that effect on some. Lemoine didn’t make the film as Softcore Porn with a Horror theme/background, but instead chose to tell a Horror story where the Erotic plays a necessary and, in some cases, important function of the outcome of said story.

Seven Women for Satan
The Tortured and Tragic Boris (from Mondo Digital)

Lemoine offers a compelling, sympathetic, and sadly tragic performance of the title character Zaroff. Lemoine expresses this beautifully and perfectly in that Boris is a genuinely good man who is forever haunted by the misdeeds of his brutal father, and by the sinister and human forces that try to make him embrace that brutality. This also has the Lovecraftian feel of Inherited Guilt in which fiction characters can’t escape or find redemption from the crimes committed by those that came before them. Audience realize this from the very instant Boris is introduced after his first onscreen hallucination as he is clearly bewildered and shocked at the thoughts always going through his mind. When he tries to stop himself from doing any harm to a female hitchhiker he fantasized making love to, he accidently runs her over with his car. Fearing his teeth marks on her breast will lead to suspicions he tried to rape her, he dumps her body in a deep lake by his estate. This act traumatizes him, and forces him to remember the night the woman he loved was murdered right in front of him, but also keeps him from doing anymore harm to others. Temptation continues to fly for Boris when he interviews a woman interested in the job of house secretary, and while he prefers to make love to her, ends up powerless when his servant orders the Doberman guard dog to attack her. Images of both the woman he ran over and his beloved haunt his mind, relieving him of doing any evil, but unable to prevent it. The last straw finally breaks when Boris realizes a prank he intended to play on a stranded couple he offered overnight shelter to was made into vicious crime by his servant, sending him over the edge. The question then becomes will the humanity still within him be able to break free of his family’s horrible curse. per Seven Women for Satan [Blu-ray] : Michel Lemoine, Joëlle Coeur,  Nathalie Zeiger, Howard Vernon, Robert de Laroche, Martine Azencot, Michel  Lemoine: Movies & TV
The Evil and Wicked Karl (from Amazon)

-Swiss-German French actor Howard Vernon, a staple of European genre cinema, and cult icon Jess Franco’s favorite actor, gives one of his most menacing and villainous performances in the role of Karl the Butler. Karl’s father, also a butler, served the original Count Zaroff as his son now serves the Count’s son Boris, revealing a hint of intertwined destiny. Karl vowed to keep a promise to his dying father that he would ensure Boris would continue the Zaroff legacy of cruelty and debauchery by whatever means available to him. Vernon gives Karl an air of remorselessness, willingly putting innocent people at risk, even killing them himself to make certain his master will come to see the delights of the darkness, all with an unflinching gaze. Karl is the true villain of the film as he willingly, and even at times with a sense of pride, does all sorts of horrible things to keep his word to his father. Little does Karl know that his master’s conscious is very strong, and other forces will fight him with equal intensity to save Boris.

Love From Beyond the Grave (from LA FOUTOIROTHÈQUE)

Joelle Coeur, the French Erotic film icon, gives a hauntingly wonderful performance as Anne de Baoisryvault. Anne plays an uber important role in that she’s the good against the evil that is Karl. Anne would be the only woman Boris Zaroff really and truly loved, Boris being Anne’s light while trapped in a loveless marriage. Their happiness was cut short when during a secret rendezvous, Anne was shot in the back while dancing with Boris, (while her jealous husband was most likely the culprit, some believe it was Karl to ensure Boris remained alone) poor Boris unaware his beloved Anne was dying in his arms. Her death would shatter Boris, who himself went into sexual repression and isolation. When Karl makes plans to ensure his master embraces his father’s wicked traits, Anne returns from the afterlife to save the man she loves. Placing her image in mirrors and such in place of the women meant to be the targets of the diabolical plot, Anne works to keep Boris’ humanity and conscious alive to fight against the evil trying to turn him. Anne appears to Boris on several occasions to remind him of the good man she knows he is, beckoning him to return to the light with her. When Boris realizes the horrible betrayal of Karl involving an innocent couple he offered overnight shelter to, his grip on reality breaks, forcing Anne to resort to one last method to save him and his soul, a method she’d hoped to not have to use. This was to be Joelle Coeur’s final film, retiring not long after as she didn’t care for French cinema’s ever increasing move towards XXX Hardcore Porn over the usual Softcore she enjoyed making.

The Beautifully Haunting Zaroff Castle (from Tumblr)

Mixing the Gothic Ghost Story with Frano-esque violence and high Erotica, Lemoine paints an artistic grindhouse piece that is both shocking and beautiful at the same time. Lemoine employs some unique camera angles and shots, mainly in the halucinatory moments that work very well to show Zaroff’s ever teetering balance between the world he wants to live in, and the world the more evil forces around want him to submit to. The lead character is surprisingly sympathetic despite his weakness at the forces vying for his final destiny. Good vs Evil has never been done so eloquently as this film, the power on the side of good unrelenting in battling its sadistic enemy to save a man.

(I’ll leave it up to whoever reads this write-up as to whether to watch the film or not. While the erotic moments aren’t over done and bordering on the poor taste/disgusting element, some people may find the heightened use of them a little too much to handle, and that is those folks’ right to believe. There’s definitely more to like than hate with the film as Lemoine proves himself a very good and effective director who’s style is very overlooked. Many of his choices are solid, some that went further than necessary, and only one or two he didn’t need at all solidifying his abilities. The Blu Ray done in conjunction between France’s Le Chat Qui Fume [The Smoking Cat] and the US’s Mondo Macabro is a solid restoration that brings the film back to life, keeping the dream-like atmosphere Lemoine intended. Either release is highly recommended, though I’ll mention now the special features on the French edition aren’t English subtitle friendly. I admit this is odd as the English subtitle translation of the film itself is solid, a little better than the US edition, but both editions are good in their own ways.)

All images courtesy of Images and their respective owners

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

The Gothic, Euro Erotica, Pre-Ordained Revenge, & Bizarre Science

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #3)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original German version)

Original Poster (from SPLATTERTRASH)

Im Schloß der Blutigen Begierde (Castle of the Creeping Flesh/In the Castle of Bloody Desire) (1968) **** NC-17

Janine Reynaud: Vera Lagrange

Howard Vernon: Der Graf von Saxon

Michel Lemoine: Baron Brack

Elvira Berndorff: Elena Lagrange

Jan Hendriks: George von Kassell

Pier A. Caminnecci: Roger de la Valiere

Claudia Butenuth: Marion von Kassell / Katharina von Saxon

Vladimir Medar: Alecos, Diener

Written by: Adrian Hoven (as Percy G. Parker) & Eric Martin Schinitzler (with uncredited contributions from Jess Franco)

Directed by: Adrian Hoven (as Percy G. Parker)

Synopsis: A debauched Baron asks five of his party guests to sneak away with him to his hunting lodge for more fun. When the Baron rapes one of the women and she takes off, the group soon find themselves at the mysterious estate of a reclusive Earl. The Earl and the Baron seem to know each other, and it isn’t long before the Baron’s guests discover they’ve inadvertently been put in the middle of a centuries old curse.

Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde -
An Eerie, Mysterious Castle (from Italo-Cinema)

Veteran German character actor Adrian Hoven, sensing the changing tide in German cinema in the late 1960’s, decided to start his own production company with a group of friends to make self-financed genre films to compete with the burgeoning New German Cinema movement. The first result of this new company was the Gothic Horror film In the Castle of Bloody Desire, in which Hoven mixed the classic Horror of the early 60’s and the contemporary Jazz music fueled Thrillers that were just gaining steam in Italy at the time. Having done a couple of the Edgar Wallace Krimi in the early to mid-1960’s, Hoven already had an idea of how to mix suspense and horror overtones/undertones together, and thus was able to get financing without much difficulty as the Krimi’s hadn’t become clichéd yet. When filming was complete, Hoven chose to use the pseudonym Percy G. Parker while editing and postproduction as he was still a very respected film and stage actor, uncertain if his contemporaries would deride him for doing a film filled with so much violent imagery and bizarre sexual behavior, some sequences in the film still maintaining the shock value felt in the period in which it was made.

Castle of the Creeping Flesh
The Enticing Valerie (from Mondo-Digital)

Janine Reynaud, a French model and actress known for her participation in Euro Erotic and Exploitation cinema, is an alluring delight in the role of Vera Lagrange. Vera is an aristocratic woman with cravings for the hedonistic in sex and adventure, always on the lookout for the next lurid good time. Her newest fascination is the Baron Brack, who shares similar interests as herself. Unbeknownst to Vera, Brack is also interested her equally lovely sister Elena. Vera and the others are soon on a quest for Elena after Brack forcibly has his way with her, and she flees the Baron’s hunting lodge in a delirious state. After the group find themselves in the castle of the Earl of Saxon where Elena has been kept safe, Vera begins noticing some strange happenings. The Earl tells her she bears a striking resemblance to his ancestor’s 2nd wife, who brought about the rape/defilement and death of his daughter. The Earl further explains that it was his ancestor’s murdering of his 2nd wife that led to his own execution as he attempted to use the woman’s blood to resurrect his daughter. Afterwards, Vera begins having bizarre hallucination dreams, dreading something sinister will happen.

In the Castle of Bloody Lust (1968) — The Movie Database (TMDB)
The Earl Recalls the Painful Past (from The Movie Database)

Howard Vernon, the German-Swiss/French actor who became one of Jess Franco’s main collaborators, gives a subtly chilling role (in one of his rare non-Franco films) as the Earl of Saxon. A nobleman who’s family has suffered a bloody and tragic history, the Earl had made the decision to cut himself and his family from the outside world so they can eventually be free of the dark past hovering over them. A chance at fixing this tragic line comes almost by destiny in the form of Baron Brack, and his innocent guests. The Earl and Brack appear to know each other well in spite of the fact the Earl is a total recluse who never goes beyond his estate. Having assured Brack’s friends the young lady they’ve been looking for has only suffered a mild shock and will be able to go with them by morning, the Earl tells them the history of his family. He says history repeated itself when his own daughter was attacked by an unidentified assailant, and died of internal injuries. Almost everyone in the party, save for three of the characters, bear strong resemblances to the parties involved in the first Earl’s daughter’s death, and the question quicky becomes if history continually repeats itself, or if a new tragedy can be prevented. That the Earl demands his guests wear clothing from the period the atrocity was committed in strongly implies this.


Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde -
The Damned Baron (from Italo-Cinema)

Michel Lemoine, a French actor who began in important art films and later become an icon in genre cinema, is at his slimy best in the role of Baron Brack. Brack brings the 19th century debauched nobleman to the 20th century, and is just as, if not more so, depraved as his predecessors. When the vivacious and flirty Lagrange sisters catch his eye, the Baron plots how to bed both of them. When the younger sister admits to flirting all in fun, the Baron becomes enraged and proceeds to savagely and remorselessly rape the young woman. After she flees in a hysterical state, the Baron’s lifestyle is soon to catch up with him. When he and his party end up on the estate of the Earl of Saxon, Brack’s paranoia in regard to the Earl and the history of the Saxon family becomes ever increasing, hinting that he somehow has played a part before.   

𝕰 𝖟 𝖊 𝖖 𝖚 𝖎 𝖊 𝖑 . 🐩🤍 on Twitter: "IM SCHLOSS DER BLUTIGEN BEGIERDE  — CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (Adrian Hoven, 1968)… "

A Twisted Elegy to a Disturbing Crime (from Twitter)

Jess Franco, the unofficial King of Shlock/Shock Exploitation cinema, provided some uncredited assistance in Hoven’s screenplay. The high dose of Erotica, surreal/bizarre imagery, and unusual special effects all scream Franco’s MO and style, and all are used to good effect within the film. Hoven doesn’t use these in abundance the way Franco usually did, instead intersplicing them when needed, the only extensive uses of these are during Valerie’s nightmare as she sees the vicious act against the Earl’s daughter through the eyes of the devious mistress. Why Franco isn’t credited in any known print of the film is never made clear in any film site, but as Franco was a really busy independent filmmaker, working on as many as ten features a year, it’s possible at least one contract prevented his credit for legal reasons.


Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde -
Two People Discussing Bizarre Fantasies (from Italo-Cinema)

Again, going for a more psychological approach to Horror, Adrian Hoven does very well with Castle of Bloody Desire, near flawlessly mixing contemporary and historical settings, having rich yet not overtly complex characters, and of course a nice range of atmosphere and vibes.

(This is one of the films I have to recommend with caution to many people. While the film doesn’t glorify the act done to the Earl’s daughter and much of the other bizarre behavior of characters, some sequences in the film can be seen by some as quite intense, which is perfectly understandable. The film does draw the viewer in, and much of it is as much a curiosity as it is entertaining to an extent. Again, this is another example of a film not being everyone’s cup of tea, and only appeals to a certain type of viewer. Like with a few other films I’ve talked about on this level, I don’t make a claim to fully understand what Adrian Hoven wanted to accomplish with his film, but I feel I was open minded enough to see what his attempts were aiming at. There are two Blu Ray releases of the film, one from Germany, the other from Severin Films in the US. Both releases are pretty good, many fans might being preferable to the US release as the subtitle translation of the German track may be more exact than the German release. and the extras on the German release may or may not be subtitled in English. Fans can’t go wrong with either release though as both have their strong points, especially the audio and visual transfers.)

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When the Quest for Everlasting Beauty Goes Too Far

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #2)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the French language original)

Shock Treatment (1973) - IMDb
Original French Poster (from the IMDb)

Traitement de Choc (Shock Treatment) (1973) R ****1/2

Alain Delon: Docteur Devilers

Annie Giradot: Helene Masson

Robert Hirsch: Gerome Savignat

Michel Duchaussoy: Docteur Bernard

Gabriel Cattand: Procureur de Boissiere

Jeanne Colletin: Camille Giovanelli

Robert Party: Colonel de Riberolles

Jean Roquel: Marcel Lussac

Roger Muni: Paul Giovanelli

Lucienne Legrand: Lise de Riberolles

Anne-Maria Deschodt: Henriette Lussac

Jean Leuvrais: Le Commissaire

Written by: Alain Jessua, Roger Curel, & Enrico Vanzina

Directed by: Alain Jessua

Synopsis: After a startling revelation on her life, businesswoman Helene Masson accepts an invitation from a longtime friend to spend two weeks at a rejuvenation spa run by the prominent Dr. Devilers. While the treatments do work and everyone sees nothing amiss, Helene begins to suspect something sinister when her friend commits suicide after a financial crisis and the imported Portuguese staff begin suffering what appears to be extreme altitude sickness.

Traitement de choc (1973) | Cinema of the World
The First Examination (from World Cinema)

French genre auteur Alain Jessua took the lore of vampirism and translated it into an allegory on the obsession with youthful beauty and the horrors of addiction. Instead of transfigured human beings who live nocturnally with fangs to consume the blood of their victims, Jessua has his culprits be unorthodox doctors of medicine who’ve channeled the destructive methods of the primitive African, Latin/South/Central, and Native American tribes that involved the consumption of the flesh and blood of their enemies. The recipients of this dark and twisted elixir love the effect of the serum, and their fear of old age makes them compliant in the methods of their ‘saviors’, thus leading to a kind of dependency that has a small, motely band of prominent French citizens returning to the little oasis every year to maintain their little secret on how to maintain their youthful appearance. The whole inhuman affair has its first bout of exposure when a regular client kills himself after bad financial tips force him to give up his treatments, the only example of someone feeling the effects of withdrawal, both literally from not getting the serum, and figuratively in that he already feels his true age coming to the surface, and the paralyzing fear of being shunned for no longer being handsome and young.

Shock Treatment (1973) image
The First Treatment (from Listal)

Jessua gives a surprising clue early on in the film as to what is going on by revealing the spa’s waiters and caretakers are young men ranging from their late teens to mid-20’s. and are of Hispanic or Latino – via the South and Central American countries, descent. One of the spa regular’s comments that up until recently the staff was made up of young Spanish men who needed work to support their destitute families, and now the head doctor is strictly hiring Portuguese workers. The young men are shown to be on a very unusual protein diet, and are kept working almost constantly, and seem to not be able to adjust to the lower altitude climate. That one of the characters states the spa hires mainly men of Hispanic or South/Central American heritage sets off a signal that this is important to what’s happening in the story, and how it ends up important is fairly shocking.

Shock Treatment
The Mysterious Benevolent Doc (from Mondo Digital)

Alain Delon, one of France’s finest genre & art house actors, delivers an excellent performance as Dr. Devilers. A college educated doctor going back to the roots of natural medicine, Devilers is certain he has discovered a safe and holistic serum to slow down the aging process. While the aristocratic crowd seems to be his primary cliental to his rejuvenation therapy, Devilers accepts any patient that can afford the price who feels they could benefit from his discovery. Delon portrays Devilers as a charming and gracious man who puts the patients at top priority over everything else, but it’s after one of his regular patients dies tragically that Devilers façade seems to crack. His charm conceals an intimidating menace that has everyone afraid to reveal what exactly goes on behind the scenes in his research for fear of being held as accessories to what very well could be criminal actions. While his aims at helping people maintain their youth a little longer are noble, how he managed to achieve that goal possibly meant going against the laws of men and the laws of a higher power, and an even more frightening aspect is a very real possibility he willingly gave up his own humanity and soul to succeed.

Traitement de choc - Alain Jessua - Critique - Tortillapolis
A Worried Helene (from Tortillapolis)

Annie Giradot, a lesser internationally known French actress, gives a mini powerhouse performance as Helene Masson. A simple independent businesswoman who felt her beauty would age gracefully, Helene had no allusions of what would occur in life as she reached middle age and seemed initially content with how she lived. When the man she was certain she would spend the rest of her life with abandoned her to be with a much prettier, and younger, woman, Helene soon found her world upside down, and certain realities flooding in that she’d been previously oblivious to, or had admittingly turned a blind eye to, forced her to rethink how she was aging, and maybe the youthful treatment recommended by a longtime friend might be in order to save herself from ending up alone. Ironically, some of the patients and Dr. Devilers himself tell her she looks radiant already and doesn’t ‘need’ the treatment the way others do, but are sympathetic to her reasons for wanting to give the treatment a try. At first happy with the result, Helene’s mind begins to go erratic after learning her good friend killed himself, and realizing he was telling the truth that the treatment is like being addicted to any drug.

Traitement de choc - Alain Jessua - Critique - Tortillapolis
A Not so Discreet Doctor/Patient Relationship (from Tortillpolis)

Delon and Giradot had worked together a decade earlier as would be lovers in Luchino Visconti’s tragic family drama Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers), but this film wouldn’t prove to be a happy reunion. During the production of Rocco, Giradot fell in love with Renato Salvatori, one of the other actors in the cast, and after encouragement from Delon, the two married and seemingly had the quaint life most married people hope for. Not long before production on Choc, Giradot left and divorced Salvatori for another man, and upon seeing her on the first day of shooting, Delon slapped Giradot hard in the face. Salvatori was a close friend of Delon, and because he encouraged the couple’s romance, felt just as responsible for their break-up and Giradot’s infidelity, and was thus trying to relieve himself of the guilt he was bearing. Whether Delon was eventually able to reconcile with Giradot has never been documented.

Richard🔥Wells on Twitter: "Film time! Revisited Alain Jessua's SHOCK  TREATMENT (1973). Alain Delon is the Bond villain like head of an exclusive  health spa with *a dark secret*. Enjoyable schlock with social
A Day to Rejoice (from Twitter)

A scene that well highlights the hedonistic choices made by staff and patients alike comes in the form of a beach scene, not long after the first day’s injection treatment. All the patients, including Helene and Dr. Devilers himself, all get naked and frolic along the waves of the water’s edge. Initially this is to indicate the rejuvenation in youth everyone feels from benefiting from the treatment, this scene also hints at the radical truths revealed as the film progresses, and crimes against both man and nature come to light. The scene also is notable for one of the rare occasions Alain Delon went completely nude for a scene in a film, baring all for audiences to see in a very daring, and to a degree, courageous, moment.

Shock Treatment
Conversing in the Spa (from Mondo Digital)

While it plays out as more of a psychological Thriller, Traitement de Choc really is at heart an allegorical Horror film that plays up vampirism in a way that could probably happen, if someone did indeed put their mind to it. The story, acting, the cinematography, etc, are all top notch, and help to really establish the mood and pace Alain Jessua intended the film to have.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look; especially to women over forty who may have concerns over aging, trust me, this film will most likely ‘scare’ those fears right out of you when the big reveal near the end comes up. Metaphorical Horror has never looked better or been done as good as this film. Some might think the method is a little over the top, but it does have roots in reality, so don’t dismiss the film as wishful thinking, or fantastic Sci-Fi Horror. Annie Giradot’s acting may get a little over the top/melodramatic, at certain points, but it serves the film well, and adds to the effective tension director Jessua intended. Severin Films did a great job with the restoration of the audio and visuals, giving the film itself a rejuvenation of sorts.)

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Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

A Mix of Poe Horror, Wallace Krimi, and Modern Jazz

by Tony Nash

(Foreign Language Horror #1)

(Mild Spoilers Ahead)

(All Opinions are of the Author Alone)

(Review is of the original German language version)

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) German movie poster
German Poster (from CineMaterial)

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (The Snake Pit and the Pendulum/The Blood Demon/The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism) (1967) **** PG-13

Lex Barker: Roger Mont Elise / Reinhold von Marienberg

Karin Dor: Baroness Lillian von Brabant / Baroness von Brabant

Christopher Lee: Count Frederic Regula of Andomai

Carl Lange: Anatol, the Butler (as Karl Lange)

Vladimir Medar: Peter Fabian

Christiane Rucker: Babette

Dieter Eppler: The Coachman

Horst Naumann: Voice Dubbing – Lex Barker

Herbert Weicker: Voice Dubbing – Christopher Lee

Klaus W. Krause: Voice Dubbing – Vladimir Medar

Written by: Manfred R. Kohler (loosely based on The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, and inspired by the fiction of Edgar Wallace)

Directed by: Harald Reinl

Synopsis: After he is sentenced to death for the murder of 12 virgin women and practicing Satanism, Count Regula swears revenge on the descendants of those who brought about his demise. 35 years later, the son of the Crown Prosecutor and the daughter of the Baroness Brabant are lured to Regula’s castle.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
Regula’s Chamber of Horrors (from UCM.ONE)

1967 saw German cinema at a crossroads, newcomers Rainer W. Fassbender and Volker Schlondorff were beginning the age of New German Cinema, where more personal stories were being told that audiences seemed to empathize with, and the once successful genre films of directors like Harald Reinl and Alfred Vohrer were beginning to lose steam. While the Krimi films based on the novels of British crime fiction writer Edgar Wallace had helped bring a boom to the German film industry, the ever-rising popularity of the Giallos and Spaghetti Westerns in Italy were making it tougher and tougher for German writers and directors to keep up. Some co-productions with Italy did help the industry move along, but the popularity of import films dubbed into German were making the studios less and less keen on continuing making their own versions that were seemingly being made better elsewhere. Ideas were needed to keep the industry going, but the attempt to infuse Horror overtones to the Wallace Mystery Thrillers, only aided in the genre’s demise quicker, as critics and fans alike saw them as weak cash-ins on the Giallo craze.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
Regula Receives His Sentence (from UCM.ONE)

To combat the ever-encroaching Art-House movement that would mean many solid genre actors and actresses would be forced to return to the stage or go to television to keep working, Constantin Films greenlit a project that combined the Wallace Krimi, the Italian Giallo, the Gothic Horror of Poe, Corman, & Bava, and a strange blend of contemporary and period music, the result being The Snake Pit and the Pendulum aka The Blood Demon. Taking the very basics from the Poe classic The Pit and the Pendulum, the film begins with the aristocratic Count Regula being sentenced to death for murdering 12 virgin women after making a pact with the devil. Before being led to the place of execution, Regula vows to destroy the family of the Prosecutor for the Crown, and avenge himself on the woman who was to be his next victim. On the 35th anniversary of Regula’s demise, his last henchmen help to lure the surviving son of the Prosecutor and the daughter of the last victim to his castle to finish what he started a quarter of a century ago.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
The Haunted Forest of Andomai (from UCM.ONE

Director Harald Reinl takes some inspirations from both Roger Corman and Mario Bava when doing exterior scenes. As the film goes into night time, audiences are first greeted to a lush yellow/brown sunset that seems to fly across the screen in a psychedelic fashion that Bava and Croman used so frequently in their early color efforts. When night hits and the terrors of Regula’s Forest come to life, Reinl’s use of lighting, mood, music, and color is very reminiscent of Bava’s Gothic Horror films that lends a very effective feeling of the dangers the cast are soon to be introduced to.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
Some Bizarre Religious Iconography (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Religious imagery and rights play a pretty important part in the film. Regula’s crimes are judged as not only an offence against his country, but an offence against the Holy Church as well. This is portrayed through a special ceremony performed every year on the day Regula was executed as to prevent his evil spirit from wreaking havoc on the surrounding towns that border his castle. That neither the Church or the Crown took possession of Regula’s estate confirms this wasn’t the usual political scheme to gain lands, but to genuinely rid the community of what they saw as evil incarnate as the castle is shown to be highly dilapidated and in disrepair. Statuary of the varied saints and even of Christ himself are shown sporadically in the early scenes, showing that strong forces from beyond are protecting the protagonists as they meet their destinies. Regula’s castle is filled with the polar opposite: wall paintings showcase tormented souls and demons engaging in the torture of said souls, while statuary of bestial demons guard and light the abode.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
The Hero Works His Way Out of Danger (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Lex Barker, one of the many American actors who went to Europe after their careers in Hollywood dried up – later becoming a Superstar in Germany, plays the protagonist Roger Mont Elise, and his father Reinhold von Marienberg in the opening. A lawyer traveling through the countryside going over the many cases of his firm, Mont Elise is also trying to discover his past after learning he was left in a foundling home with only a nice sized dowery and a medallion as clues to who he really was. Feeling he’ll learn answers after a mysterious man gives him a letter saying a Count Regula can help him, Mont Elise will soon learn he’s the son of Crown Prosecutor von Marienberg, and that he’s been lured to the castle so Regula can fulfill his promise to eradicate the Marienberg family forever. Little is said about Reinhold von Marienberg as he’s only in the film for 15 minutes, but it’s clear he’s devoted to the country, the people, the Crown, and the Church that have made him defender of the realm and faith. He manages to ensure at least one relative will survive to keep Regula from succeeding in his plans.  Barker does very well in both roles, and while not the usual action hero type character he was used to playing in the German Westerns and Italian Adventure films of the early to mid-1960’s, Barker proved that not only was he still leading man material, but also an underrated performer.

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
A Villain in Life….
The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
….And Death (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Christopher Lee, one of Britain’s finest character actors, and an icon of World Horror cinema, gets to play a very different type of villain in the role of Count Frederic Regula. An aristocrat taking the motif of the debauched wealthy and going to levels of extremity, Regula goes to horrid lengths to gain the power of immortality by brutally killing young virgins while also taking their fear to the highest point. When a would-be victim foils his plans and he’s condemned to death by the violent act of quartering by horses, Regula swears to avenge himself from beyond the grave. Through very elaborate means that are a mixture of science and black magic, Regula and his followers spend the next 35 years scheming and waiting for the right moment to complete their revenge. Lee is still playing the villain of course, albeit this go around playing a very human villain who has flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. While he is aided by forces that are both supernatural and scientific, Lee’s Regula has a precise time in which he must complete his task once awakened from his death like state, and Lee shows him as a confidant, but at the same time cautious individual. Lee offers a fairly restrained performance as Regula, keeping the character in the world of realism, only going into theatrics toward the very end of the film.

(Author’s note: Lee provides his voice for the English dubbing of the film, a rarity for Lee’s foreign language appearances. It’s difficult to tell though if Lee looped his dialogue not long after filming wrapped, or if it was some years before Lee was asked to dub himself as his voice sounds very deep, which it did become by the 1990’s.)

The Bloody Pit of Horror: Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967)
One of Germany’s Great Actresses (from The Bloody Pit of Horror)

Karin Dor, a popular German actress of the stage and screen, takes on the leading lady role of Baroness Lillian von Brabant. The daughter of the original Baroness von Brabant, Lillian arrives toward Count Regula’s castle under the false claim her mother had willed her some land around the area. Her mother had been an intended victim of the Count, but by luck and fate was able to escape and inform the authorities of the Count’s actions, earning her his wrath as well. Regula plans to have Lillian take her mother’s place, thus completing the process of eternal life. Dor mainly acts as the damsel in distress of the film, spending a good chunk of it screaming and in fear of her and her companions’ safety, but Dor doesn’t go into the complete cliché’s of the damsel role, showing courage in the face of danger, and a willing to risk her life for those she cares about. The film also marked her 2nd to last time working with occasional romantic love interest Lex Barker, whom she did 4 (one time uncredited) of Barker’s 7 Winnetou film roles with, the final time released a year after The Snake Pit and the Pendulum and a segment of an Espionage Anthology film. Dor and Barker enjoyed a nice chemistry together that was oddly not capitalized on enough as they clearly played well off each other, aided in that they understood some of the other’s native language.

Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel (1967) von Harald Reinl | M-Square  Classics
The Mad Henchman (from UCM.ONE)
Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel |
The Heroic Thief (from

German actor Carl Lange (credited as Karl Lange) and Slavic actor Vladimir Medar make up the main supporting cast of characters. Lange, putting on his best Lon Chaney Jr. and Dwight Frye impersonations, plays Anatol, Regula’s last faithful servant. Anatol carried out the majority of Regula’s plan of revenge against Prosecutor Marienberg by not only killing him, but most of the family as well. Before he could get to the infant son, Anatol was caught and hung by the neck, but Regula’s imperfect potion saved his life. Lange subtly mixes calm loyalty and raving mania as Anatol has a fanatical devotion to his master. Medar acts primarily as comic relief in the role of Peter Fabian, a small-time thief impersonating a Catholic priest. Initially trying to escape the bizarre situation he unintentionally found himself in, Fabian shows he has some sense of honor and loyalty as he chooses to stay behind and help Mont Elise save Lillian and her scared maid from the evil Regula and his equally demented servant Anatol.   

The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967) by Harald Reinl | M-Square Classics
The Ancestors of the Hero and Heroine Look on at Regula’s Execution (from UCM.ONE)

The only odd part about the film is the score by Peter Thomas. The music is an unusual mix of modern Jazz and Rock, which was very popular with Edgar Wallace films, and more classical style scoring associated to Gothic Horror. The Jazzy style Rock seems very out of place for a period piece, though it is still interesting to hear. When the film gets into the more sinister and supernatural parts, the score becomes more ambient and effective to strengthen the mood. The modern scoring still pops up here and there, but it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t take away from the intended atmosphere. The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism ( Die Schlangengrube und das  Pendel ) (Blu-Ray & DVD Combo) [ Blu-Ray, Reg.A/B/C Import - Germany ] :  Lex Barker, Karin Dor, Christopher Lee,
Title Card (from

While some musical cues don’t fit the atmosphere, The Snake Pit and the Pendulum is an effective slice of Gothic Horror that also made for the genre’s fine farewells. Mixing both Expressionistic and psychedelic visuals, and very good acting, the film might not be one of the best ever made, but is definitely entertaining and worthy of being in the upper echelons of the Horror genre.

(I highly recommend giving this film a look, as while the score can sometimes leave viewers confused, the film’s mood and atmosphere make up for it. It’s hard to tell at times if Christopher Lee enjoyed doing the film, or his character’s neutral feel was how the director asked him to play it, but Lee is still very effective in whatever role he played. The German company UCM.ONE did an excellent job with the restoration of the film, cleaning up the visuals and audio to a nice crispness. Unfortunately, the English subtitles on the disc are dubtitles of the English dubbing, and not translated from the German audio track. The UCM.ONE restoration also appears on the Severin Films release of the film for their The Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee Box Set, again the subtitles being based on the English dubbing and not a translation of the German track. The film is definitely better in the original German audio, so not having translated subtitles is a bummer, but the film is still worth checking out either way.)

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