Gli Amanti d’oltretomba (Nightmare Castle) (1965)
Italy (dir. Mario Caino)
Cast: Barbara Steele, Paul Muller, Helga Liné, Laurence Clift, Giuseppe Addobbati, Rik Battaglia
Synopsis: A woman and her lover are tortured and killed by her sadistic husband. The pair return from the grave to seek vengeance.
Review: I’m not exactly sure what to make of this one. It starts off very torture-pornish, then ventures into a mad science sub-plot, continues onwards to a possession, and then ends with ghosts haunting the castle (I guess the ghosts figured out that possessing the dreams of the living was a useless endeavor). Some of the dubbing was so bad, it made the movie almost laughable because it drained away so much tension and suspense. Even the music was lame; it sounded like it would be better suited to an early 70s porn film. The only thing worth seeing in this movie is really the first 10-15 minutes and Barbara Steele (she plays two roles in this movie!)
The story revolves around a scientist who is very fond of working long hours, neglecting his wife, and being obsessively jealous of any man who dares move in on his woman. Naturally, the wife is led to cheat, and her jealous husband does the only rational thing he can – lock both of them up in the dungeon of his castle and torture them before killing them and removing their hearts. To further spite his dead wife, he breaks out her crazy twin sister from an insane asylum and marries her so as to ensure he will inherit his dead wife’s family fortune. One of the perplexing things about that whole scenario is the fact that the wife’s abscence is never mentioned, and the ditzy twin sister is only too happy to marry her former brother-in-law. There’s also a confusing sub-plot where the castle’s head servant (some old cranky bitch) is in cahoots with the evil scientist to rejuvenate her body via blood transfusions from the dead wife. It’s a useless sub-plot which was probably only written in so that the mad scientist could have an evil minion/sidekick.
The twin sister, once moved from the asylum to the castle, begins experiencing weird nightmares where she is possessed by the soul of her dead sister. She also falls victim to the mad scientist’s/cranky servant bitch’s “ingenious” plan to cause the twin sister to go insane (again). It seemed like such a terribly complicated way to ensure receiving a fortune, especially considering the twin sister wasn’t exactly as insane as you’d think (she’s more of a ditzy blonde type). I kind of enjoyed the tension created when the scientist admits to the cranky servant bitch (who he is probably screwing on the side) that he has strong feelings for the twin because she reminds him of his dead wife. It really makes you think of him as less of a heartless torturing monster, and more of a hopeless jealous husband who may have over-reacted when his passion drove him to punish his wife so horribly.
After the nightmares become progressively worse for the twin, a doctor is called in to assess the situation. He sorta sees through what’s going on, but not really (he’s a bit young and naive, and very much infatuated with the twin). Eventually the doctor does realize the mad scientist’s scheme, and rescues the twin just before the ghosts of the dead wife and her lover come back to avenge her death. The castle pretty much self-destructs, and the doctor delivers probably one of the most to the point one liners I’ve ever heard in a horror movie, “Now you can sleep. The nightmares are over”, ROLL CREDITS. Wow, that summed it up… I guess?
“Nightmare Castle” is an okayish movie, but it’s way too boring to be fun and scary. The dubbing makes you take the movie less seriously than you should and I bet there are a lot of deeper meanings that just end up getting lost in translation.