Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Im Schloß der blutigen Begierde (1967)

... aka: Castle of Bloody Lust
... aka: Castle of Lust
... aka: Castle of the Creeping Flesh
... aka: Das Schloß der Gehenkten
... aka: In the Castle of Bloody Lust

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

A poor example of Euro Gothic horror; even fans of the subgenre might want to skip this tedious West German production. At a party, handsome and wealthy Baron Brack (Michel Lemoine) invites some of the others to take a horseback ride and continue the festivities back at his beautiful country home. Coming along are lascivious redhead Vera Lagrange (Janine Reynaud) and her raven-haired sister Elena (Elvira Berndorff), along with Elena's fiancé Roger (Pier A. Caminnecci, one of the producers), the Baron's virginal fiancée Marion (Claudia Butenuth) and Marion's brother George (Jan Hendriks). The Baron and Elena decide to ride ahead of the others, which turns out to be a big mistake on her part when the insatiable Baron decides to rape her ("You're disgusting, you dirty swine!").

When the others show up, Elena doesn't mention the rape at all and Marion tells them a story about the mysterious Earl of Saxon, who lives in a remote castle with his beautiful daughter, Katharina. Several days earlier, Katharina was attacked and raped, prompting the Earl to release his pet bear into the wild. Distraught over what happened to her and annoyed by a comment made by Roger (who claims the Earl's daughter possibly enjoyed getting raped), Elena decides to take off on a horse. Brack, Roger and Vera head out after her. As night falls, they arrive at the Saxon castle... just as the Earl's daughter has passed away from injuries inflicted upon her by her attacker. They're brought inside by manservant Alecos (Vladimir Medar, from the wonderful TORTURE CHAMBER OF DR. SADISM) and come inside to meet the Earl (THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF's Howard Vernon), a physician who offers them a place to stay. Elena's there already - having a rest in one of the bedrooms.

Graf Saxon tells everyone a tale about his cursed family lineage. Many years ago, marauders invaded the castle and raped and killed the daughter of his forefather as his wicked mistress (a "nasty, mischievous little bawdy bitch!" according to her lover) watched and did nothing to help. The King then slaughtered his daughter's attackers, stabbed his mistress and tried to revive his daughter with her blood. When the authorities caught on, they beheaded him. George and Marion (injured after hitting her head on a low-hanging tree branch) eventually show up at the castle looking for their friends. And wouldn't ya know it, Vera is a dead ringer for the devious mistress (and seems to be just as lacking in the moral department) and Marion is a dead ringer for both the King and Earl's ill-fated daughters. While giving a tour, Alecos even shows the visitors a room where the original crimes are reenacted by mannequins! Downstairs in the secret laboratory, the Earl and his assistant cut open Katharina's body. It looks like they used a pig carcass for the scalpel cutting flesh effect, but then swiped some actual surgery footage for the operation (which we see about 50 flashes of throughout the film).

While the other two ladies sleep, Vera decides to take this opportunity to try to seduce both Marion's fiancé and her own sister's fiancé, finally having some luck with the latter. She also has a lengthy nightmare (lasting almost fifteen minutes!) recounting the earlier crime, which is completely unnecessary since we're already had it described to use in detail twice earlier. Alecos scoops up a sleeping Marion and takes her downstairs to the lab, where the Earl and his assistant plot to do a brain switcheroo to revive his daughter. Meanwhile, Brack gets scared and leaves the castle to go get the car, but gets lost and is mauled by a man in a bear suit. He stumbles back just in time for the insufficient finale.

It's cheap-looking, bland, unoriginal, slow-moving, has continuity issues and none of the poorly-developed characters (including Vernon's rather restrained mad doctor) manage to spark even the slightest bit of interest. The violence is mild (aside from a brief decapitation), but there's a generous helping of female flesh - most provided by Reynaud - and that seems to be the real point of this entire piece. According to the opening credits, the screenplay is based on an idea by Eric Martin Schnitzler and "Percy G. Parker" (the director). However, many sources claim the was actually written by Jesus Franco; not difficult to believe since Hoven, Reynaud and Lemoine had all starred in Franco's "Red Lips" female detective films made around the same time and all three of them, plus Vernon and Caminnecci, were in Franco's well-regarded SUCCUBUS, also from 1967.

Never officially released to DVD, this was however issued on VHS by both Magnum and Sinister Cinema.



Anonymous said...

Whatever became of Elvira Berndorff?

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

I have no clue who this woman is but this was apparently her only screen appearance. I know Reynaud was a pretty in-demand model at the time so maybe she was a non-actress model friend of hers?

Elliot James said...

Totally incoherent and horribly slow with unrelated close-up surgical footage literally thrown in without context. Howard Vernon's butler is the always interesting Vladimir Medar from one of my favorite Euro-horrors, Harald Reinl's Die Schlangengrube und das Pendel aka Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism. The location, a real castle as in many Euro flicks, is wasted. The two leads, husband and wife Michael Lemoine and Janine Reynaud are always professional in their films but the script flops badly and leaves them adrift.

The Bloody Pit of Horror said...

That about sums this one up. Also a huge fan of Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism.

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