Il castello dei morti vivi (1964)

Italy, France,
89m 49s, 8,084 feet
35mm film, black and white, 1.85:1
mono, Italian, English

An Italian/French horror film. Who directed it depends upon which print you're viewing. Italian prints credit “Herbert Wise” (a pseudonym for the assistant director Luciano Ricci) but it was actually directed by Warren Keifer who was long thought to be a pseudonym for Lorenzo Sabatini (Sabatini doesn't actually exist 1Off Screen: Warren Kiefer: The Man Who Wasn't There by Roberto Curti) and who is credited on English language prints. English director Michael Reeve is credited as an assistant director on English language prints (he isn't mentioned on Italian prints) but worked as 2nd unit director. This may have been done for “quota and tax reasons” 2British Film Makers: Michael Reeves by Benjamin Halligan p.40

Plot Summary

During the Napoleonic Wars, a troupe of street performers is invited by Count Drago to perform at his castle. But the count has a morbid fascination with taxidermy and has sinister plans for his new guests…

Credits

Crew
Directed by: Herbert Wise [real name: Luciano Ricci [on Italian prints]; Warren Keifer
© [not given on screen]
Serena Film presents. Filmsonor (Paris) [not credited on Italian and English language prints]. A film by Warren Kiefer
Produced by: Paul M. Maslansky
Screenplay and Story: Lorenzo Sabatini [on Italian prints]
Screenplay by: Warren Kiefer [on English language prints]
Italian Dialogue: Fede Arnaud [on Italian prints]
Story by: Paul Maslansky and Warren Kiefer [on English language prints]
Director of Photography: Aldo Tonti
Edited by: Mario Serandrei
Music by: Angelo Lavagnino
Sound: Fiorenzo Magli
Make Up: Guglielmo Bonotti
Art Director: Carlo Gentili

Cast
Christopher Lee [Count Drago]
Gaia Germani [Laura]
Philippe Leroy [real name: Philippe Leroy-Beaulieu] [Eric]
Mirko Valentin [Sandro]
Donald Sutherland [Sergent Paul/the witch/the old man]
Renato Terra Caizzi [policeman]
Antonio de Martino [Anthony Martin on English language prints] [Nick]
Luciano Pigozzi [Dart]
Ennio Antonelli [Gianni]
Jacques Stany [real name: Jacques Stanislawski] [Bruno]
Luigi W. Bonos [Lewis Bonos on English language prints]

Alternative Titles

Castle of the Living Dead
Il castello dei morti viventi
Le château des morts vivants
– France
Crypt of Horror

Extracts included in
Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss (2012)

Press

1968
Kine Weekly no.3150 (24 February 1968) p.9
The story of Frankenstein started a theme that seems to have no end. This variant is as fantastic and as foolish as the majority that have since been the excuse for so-called horror films. It has all the well worn trappings: a period date, a middle-European setting, a huge Castle with cobwebby dungeons, a mad scientist, a sinister manservant and long, dark shadows pierced by screams. For extra measure it also has an aged witch with the tiresome habit of speaking only in rhymed couplets. As Count Drago Christopher Lee, made up to look like a walking cadaver, stalks through this nonsense with his usual air of menace. Philippe LeRoy and Gaia Germani give some life to the roles of Eric and Laura. – from an uncredited review

References

Periodicals

  • The Daily Cinema no.9488 (23 February 1968) p.7 – review
  • The Dark Side no.216 (2021) p.4 – illustrated note (The Dark Side horror news by Allan Bryce)
  • Films and Filming vol.15 no.10 (July 1969) p.57 – review
  • Kine Weekly no.3150 (24 February 1968) p.9 – review
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.35 no.411 (April 1968) p.58 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Supernatural no.1 (January 1969) p.9 – note (Horror film production guide)

Books

  • British Film Makers: Michael Reeves by Benjamin Halligan pp.39-42 – notes
  • Dizionario del cinema Italiano: Fantascienza, fantasy, horror edited by Enrico Lancia and Roberto Poppi pp.55-56 – credits
  • Feature Films, 1960-1969: A Filmography of English-language and Major Foreign-language United States Releases by Harris M. Lentz III p.62-63
  • The Films of Christopher Lee by Robert W. Pohle Jr and Douglas C. Hart pp.97-98
  • Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 pp.65-66 – credits, review
  • Italian Horror Films of the 1960s: A Critical Catalog of 62 Chillers by Lawrence McCallum pp.61-68 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Kine Yearbook 1969 p.110
  • by Walt Lee p.58 – credits
  • Spaghetti Nightmares: Italian Fantasy-Horrors as Seen Through the Eyes of Their Protagonists by Luca M. Palmerini and Gaetano Mistretta p.164 – credits
  • Unsung Horrors by Eric McNaughton & Darrell Buxton (eds) p.231 – illustrated review (by Kevin Nickelson)