Castle Of Blood

Discussion in 'High Def' started by rkellner, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. rkellner

    rkellner Active Member

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    [​IMG]


    [​IMG] Reviewer: rkellner
    Review Date: October 5, 2016

    Released by: Severin Films
    Release date: 08/15/2015
    MSRP: $29.98
    Region A
    Progressive Scan
    Codec: AVC, 1080p
    Widescreen 1.78:1
    1964

    “I expected to spend the night with horrible ghosts, and instead I found you…”

    Included on the excellent Severin blu ray of Nightmare Castle as a bonus full length feature is a decent looking print of Castle of Blood which hasn’t seen a US release since 2002. Using a different cut of the film than Synapse put out way back when, and a new 2K scan, does Castle of Blood hold up to the Italian gothic pictures of the time? Casting someone as Edgar Allan Poe and including Barbara Steele in her prime surely doesn’t hurt.

    The Story

    inline Image The film opens up with Edgar Allan Poe (Silvano Tranquili, from Black Belly of the Tarantula and The Pumaman), telling macabre tales late at night on Halloween in a dark and dreary London pub, suitably named The Four Devils. His companion that evening is Lord Thomas Blackwood (Umberto Raho, of The Eerie Midnight Horror Show and The Bird with the Crystal Plumage). His angle is that he isn’t a fictional writer as those who have joined to hear his tales would believe. Rather, all of his demented stories come from true elements, and Poe is nothing more than a reporter of the facts, much like the journalist Alan Foster (Georges Riviere, from The Virgin of Nuremberg and The Black Vampire) who has come to hear Poe speak. The conversation then segues to the possibility of life after death, at which point another bar patron informs the table that coincidently he is in possession of a castle where no living souls have successfully spent the night without joining the here-after themselves! Not one to turn down a story or a bet for that matter, the journalist agrees to spend the night at the castle, especially since this is allegedly the one night of the year where the dead walk the halls.

    inline Image After a highly atmospheric couple scenes of Alan wandering the empty grounds and interior of the gothic castle, he finds himself in the company of two sisters, Julia and Elizabeth, who inhabit the home, played by the raven haired beauty of Barbara Steele and the lovely blonde Margrete Robsahm. Of course, it takes about five minutes for Alan to fall madly in love with Barbara Steele and learn her ghostly secrets, but that is how this movie goes. I guess the writer of this understands that its audience would have guessed that the inhabitants of the castle are dead since, they kind of told you that in the opening scene. However not making that the Mcguffin of the film and part of the finale does keep you guessing where the story is going from here.

    inline Image The movie gets interesting as he meets up with a deceased physician (Arturo Dominici, Black Sunday, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion) who takes him from set to set as a passive observer to how each person in the past has violently died as well as to scientifically explain why their spirit still haunts the hallways and are bound to continue to relieve their deaths on this one night of the year for eternity. The film historian in the extras points out an interesting parallel here with the main character and the movie audience itself. He is forced to watch the former inhabitants of this castle relive their deaths with no ability to chance the results, much like we as the audience are helpless to chance the events that transpire on the screen. Maybe this was some sort of meta-commentary on the horror genre that was intended by the screen writers…maybe it is the heady thoughts of a reviewer trying to grasp at higher ideas in a cheap horror movies made for peanuts 50 years ago. I’ll let you decide.

    inline Image This film, much like the print used on this blu ray, is a mix of really excellent elements, and those that are a bit rough around the edges. There are enough singular scenes in this film such as the atmospheric scenes in the crypt, the first explorations of the castle, and the opening with Edgar Allan Poe that everything else aside, would put it on the gothic horror “must see list”. But, there are also some long expositions of dialog that drag this down and take the viewer out of the atmosphere and tension of the film. It has been over a decade since I watched the Synapse “uncensored international version” of this this, so I can’t quite say which one plays better, but I have a feeling that if I had both, this shorter version (82min vs. 87min) would have better pacing. The uncut version does have a bit of nudity in it, so it’s got that going for it.

    inline Image The film was originally started under the direction of Sergio Corbucci, who gave us some of the most original and violent spaghetti westerns such as Django and The Great Silence (highly recommended viewing!); however after a week, Sergio had left and Antonio Margheriti (Cannibal Apocalypse, Flesh for Frankenstein, Long Hair of Death, Horror Castle) took over the role.

    inline Image Trying not to spoil anything, my rating of this movie is boosted by the ending. It has a very “Tales from the Crypt” tongue in cheek finale that you don’t normally see with this era of filmmaking. I can actually see why some people would have been upset by the end of this film back in 60’s, but what can I say…50 years later, I appreciate a jaded, cynical and dark ending. All in all, a worthy addition to any genre horror film library. As this comes as bonus feature with two other quality Barbara Steele period horror flicks, it is definitely worthy of a double/triple feature.

    Image Quality

    inline Image This is a 2k scan of a 35mm US release print encoded in MPEG-4 at 1080p. The film has a huge amount of dirt, lines, and debris at its worst, although it is usually a very pleasant image for the majority of the run time. It is obvious that the damage comes and goes with the reel changes (ie. looking worse with the beginning and end of each reel). There also appears to be some frames missing closer to the end of the film where Alan is descending the staircase. Sure, there are rougher spots here and there, but less than pristine image aside, this is still a large upgrade from previous DVD’s. Hardly up to snuff with other pristine older prints and restorations from companies like Arrow, BFI, and Criterion, but this is a highly watchable HD copy with good contrast and gorgeous black and white detail, for 98% of the runtime. You take the good with the bad with this one, and until a mint print of this surfaces, this is likely to the go to copy of this title.

    Sound

    This audio track is a Dolby Digital audio track at 2.0 192kbps. Much like the video, the audio on this is 95% very good. It has its times when there is static, pops, and damage which usually correspond to the video rough spots.

    Supplemental Material

    Not that it should ever be considered an extra to have chapter stops, but it is worth noting that there is no chapter stops in this. Just one big 82 minute file. Severin has commissioned a 17 minute extra to follow Castle of Blood entitled “A Dance of Ghosts.” This starts off with Fabio Melilli, an Italian film historian talking about the title which he holds in high regards, although his assumption of being a “masterpiece” with a “perfect script” are certainly his opinions, and not of this reviewer’s opinion. Actually, the feature is very interesting and worth a watch since they have original audio tapes of a 1999 interview with Margheriti talking about a variety of relevant topics on this film. The first of which is about Corbucci not being able to do the film and handing it off to him. Also discussed on the tapes are the conditions of his remake of this film entitled Web of the Spider, aka “Nella Stretta Morsa Del Ragno” which was also directed by Margheriti and came out in 1971 and stars Klaus Kinski in the role of Edgar Allan Poe (A total surprise to me! Never heard of this one!). They also discuss the economical shooting schedule of this one which took 15 days, similar to Nightmare Castle, which also stared Barbara Steele in an old castle. They also take a moment to lay universal praise on Riccardo Pallottini who was the DP/Cinematographer for this film. His black and white compositions for this are at times really stunning, so I am happy that they gave him some tribute. They guy was no stranger to cinema with 100 credits to his name, as well as some horror cult classics like Lady Frankenstein, War of the Planets, Long Hair of Death, and Vengeance…many of these with Margheriti himself. The conversation also moves to the contrast of this movie and it’s remake with the presence of Poe/Kinski, the long takes and atmosphere of Castle of Blood.

    Also included is the non-anamorphic trailer for Castle of Blood, which gives away a fair amount of the film and is not recommended for those who haven’t seen the film yet.

    Final Thoughts

    This is another quality genre effort featuring the great Barbara Steele. Much like Nightmare Castle, this film really works on a technical level. Gorgeous gothic settings, eerie lighting, and the usual hodgepodge of supernatural elements make this a great watch for a rainy fall night. The film and the print have a couple issues, but they are easily overlooked.

    Rating

    [​IMG] Movie - B

    Image Quality - C+

    Sound - C+

    Supplements - B+


    Technical Info.
    • B&W
    • Unrated
    • 1 Disc
    • Dolby 2.0
    • Subtitles
    Supplements
    • "A Dance With Ghosts" featurette
    • Trailer
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2016
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  2. Workshed

    Workshed a.k.a. Villyan Shit

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    Ha ha, great to have this comparison! Thanks for taking the time.
     

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