Iīve been tracking down Barbara Steelīs work as an actress ever since I developed a crush on her via Mario Bavaīs masterpiece "Mask of Satan", one of my favorite movies of all time. Funnily enough if it wasnīt for ever I donīt think Iīd ever given something like 8 0,5
a look in those days. Her work in the genre streches about eight or so movies, some of them great ("The horrible Secret of Dr. Hitchcock
, Danse Macabre
, The Long Hair of Death
), some of them not (The She Beast
), some of them just middle-of the road ("Nightmare Castle
, Curse of the crimson Altar
). Not to forget her bit-part in Cronenbergs debut Rabid
Most of her horror work was based in italy, like this topicīs subject, originally named "5 Tombs per un Medium". It took me years to find a copy on VHS (the US-Release happens to be cut) and it turned out to be one of the crappiest examples of itīs kind. Maybe my old video is finally dying but man what a fucking crappy tape. The fact that I even bothered to sit through the entire thing on such conditions speaks volumes for the film actually.
The plot finds some young lawyer going to visit a client in his castle due to a note received a week before from the guys employer. Turns out the client is dead for over a year and spooky shit starts to happen real fast. One of my main points of criticism against the movie is that is tries to throw too much stuff into itīs scenario so Iīm being intentionally short on that here. Although bloated in rather unconvincing plot turns itīs not short of some nice ghoulish suprises and creepy shit.
Barbara Steele stars as the dead guyīs widow and is, as always a joy to behold. The directing by Massimo Pupillo is surprisingly good and the camera work milks the nice sets for all their worth. Considering heīs also the anti-talent behind the all-time-cheesiest european horror film ever ("Bloody Pit of horror") thatīs quite some feat. There are some touches of italo-western in here even, just check that one flashback before the end. The score is also quite good overall, save for a terrible folk-song that unfortunately plays a big role in the story. That song and the rather whack ending are more points that keep the film from rising from good shit to very good shit in my book but on a whole, I was glad that I made the effort of finding it.
This isnīt a perfect film by any means but if youīre into 60s horror you might still enjoy it a lot. Itīs still a lot better than hundreds of movies of itīs ilk, that very italian atmosphere and Barbara Steele make it something special. It needs a good DVD or Blue Ray release though, and fast.