Alan Foster (George Riviere) enters the Four Devils Tavern in London. At a table sits Edgar Allan Poe (Silvano Tranquilli) and Lord Thomas Blackwood (Umberto Raho). Blackwood is listening to a story being told by Poe. Alan introduces himself as a reporter who has been trying to get an interview with Poe. Poe invites him to sit down. Their conversation eventually ends up with Blackwood making a wager with the reporter. Blackwood owns a castle that is said to be haunted. He bets Alan that he cannot spend an entire night at the castle. He tells Alan that those that tried ended up dead before morning. The most recent takers were a newlywed couple. They are buried in the castle cemetery. Alan eventually takes the wager thinking he can get a story out of it but he still wants to interview Poe. Since the castle is a two hour ride away Poe says that he will ride with Alan and Blackwood to the castle and Alan can interview him on the way.
Poe and Blackwood drop Alan off at the castle and tell him they will return at dawn. Alan wanders around the castle for a while. At first he hears noises and sees unusual images. Eventually his sits down to make a few notes. He then hears music. Downstairs is a harpsichord. He sits down and begins to play the sheet music displayed on the harpsichord. Suddenly a hand touches his shoulder. He whips around to find a beautiful woman standing there. She says her name is Elizabeth Blackwood (Barbara Steele). Elizabeth and Alan talk for a while before Julia Alert (Margrete Robsahm) appears and takes her away.
Elizabeth returns later and seduces Alan. They have sex. Elizabeth tells Alan that she is dead. A man, Herbert (Giovanni Cianfriglia), rushes into the room and stabs Elizabeth. Alan runs after him and shoots him. Herbert disappears, back in the bedroom Elizabeth has disappeared. Alan next runs into Dr. Carmus (Arturo Dominici). Carmus explains that he too was someone who wanted to spend a night in the castle. He tells Alan that one night each year, on all saints night those that died relive their last five minutes of life. Later Alan learns that in order for the dead to come back to life for that one night they need to have the blood of someone living. Right now Alan is the only one in the house who is alive.
“Castle of Blood” AKA “Danza Macabra” AKA “Castle of Terror” was released in 1964 and was directed by Antonio Margheriti and Sergio Corbucci. It is an Italian gothic horror movie. Poor interest at the box office prompted Margheriti to remake the film in color in 1970 as “Web of the Spider”. The sets used were those previously made for the 1963 film “The Monk of Monza”
I’m not sure why the movie didn’t do well at the box office. It’s an interesting little film. The gothic elements are everywhere, from the candelabras to the smoky cemetery, and the story itself is pretty good. Adding Edgar Allan Poe to the mix adds a nice eerie touch to the film. Despite the standard “spend the night in the haunted house” theme this “old dark house” film has some interesting touches to it. Adding in Barbara Steele is icing on the cake. There isn’t a decrepit castle she hasn’t been in.
Of course the lesbian undertones are pure Italian gothic and appear in almost every Italian gothic story that has two women in it. Of course Elizabeth having sex with Alan brings up another question. Is having sex with a ghost a form of necrophilia? The story also suggests that it is based on an Edgar Alan Poe story but it isn’t. Some suggest the Poe, as a character, was tossed in to take advantage of Roger Corman’s Poe inspired films. Imagine trying to actually copy Roger Corman.
The film was dubbed in French then cuts were made when it was dubbed into English. One of the versions of the film has the English dubbed film restored with the restored cuts still in French. One of the restored scenes shows the lesbian relationship between Julia and Elizabeth a little more. Not enough to really see anything but enough to curl the hair of the censors. The film also has a few plot holes but not enough to diminish the fun of it.