La frusta e il corpo (1963)

Italy, France,
77m (UK), 86m (Germany), 90m (USA), 92m (France), 2,374 metres
35mm film, Technicolor, 1.75:1
mono, Italian

Plot Summary

A sadistic 19th century nobleman rules over his family with an iron grip, even returning as a ghost after he has died.


* = uncredited

Directed by: John M. Old [real name: Mario Bava]
Richard G. Yates presents [US version] A co-production of Vox Film-Leone Film-Francinor-P.I.P.
Producer: Tom Rhodes [real name: Federico Magnaghi]
Story and Screenplay by: Julian Berry [real name: Ernesto Gastaldi], Robert Hugo [real name: Ugo Guerra], Martin Hardy [real name: Luciano Martino]
Director of Photography: David Hamilton [real name: Ubaldo Terzano], Mario Bava *
Editor: Rob King [real name: Renato Cinquini]
Music by: Jim Murphy [real name: Carlo Rustichelli]
Sound Recordist: Peter Jakson
Costumes: Peg Fax [real name: Anna Maria Palleri]
Make Up: Frank Field [real name: Franco Freda]
“Cinematographer” [actually Art Director]: Dick Grey [real name: Ottavio Scotti]
Locations: Tor Caldara, Italy

Daliah Lavi (Nevenka Menliff)
Christopher Lee (Kurt Menliff)
Tony Kendall (Christian Menliff)
Isli Oberon [real name: Ida Galli] (Katia)
Harriet White (Giorgia)
Dean Ardow (Count Menliff) [real name: Gustavo De Nardo]
Alan Collins [real name: Luciano Pigozzi] (Losat)
Jacques Herlin (priest)

Alternative Titles

The Body and the Whip
Le Corps et le fouet – French title
Der Dämon und die Jungfrau – Austrian title
Der Mörder von Schloß Menliff – German title
Night is the Phantom
Son of Satan
The Way and the Body
What – US title
The Whip and the Body

Extracts included in
Urban Gothic (2002)


The Daily Cinema no.9020 (27 January 1965) p.5
The film, another of Italy's prankish simulations of a British horror movie, is made by an ace director of the genre, Mario Bava, and a talented production team – all using English pseudonyms! Their starting point is the sort of Gainsborough picture which used to require James Mason to take a riding crop to Margaret Lockwood. On to this has been welded all the paraphernalia of recent Italian horror exercises; a doom-laden castle by the sea; crypts, mud-trailing phantoms, secret passages, slowly-turning door handles, blood-boltered ; also an enigmatic girl (Daliah Lavi) still possessed by the sex-charged spirits which made the same actress such a mysterious character in her last film, Il Demonio. Pictorially, the suffocating castle interiors and the romantic sea-beach exteriors are magnificent. There is an ingratiation sort of “Cornish Rhapsody” score to match; and the Victorian-Gothic sets and costumes are enhanced by rich Technicolor. Unfortunately, the plot is both obscure and far-fetched and the whole thing is on the slow and repetitive side. Nevertheless the acting is an enormous compensation. Daliah Lavi is brilliant as the strange and beautiful Nevenka; and Christopher Lee's name will give a boost to the box-office. Also the darkly Freudian goings-on will strike a chord in the subconscious of more people than would be prepared to admit it. – from a review by P.J.D.

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.32 no.374 (March 1965) p.40
Another of Italy's prankish simulations of a British horror movie, the film is slow, repetitive, verging on parody. Censor or distributor cuts have rendered much of the plot incomprehensible, though one doubts if it ever made sense entirely. And yet it grows on one in retrospect. Its weird and doom-laden claustrophobia is unfailingly compulsive, mainly because of the redolent Freudian associations. […] Though Mario Bava copies Freda almost slavishly, he still pulls off some arresting pictorial compositions, notably of Daliah Lavi (outstanding as Nevenka) at the piano in a vast castle hall. Even the monotonously insistent score begins to seem justified when one regards it as an echo of Nevenka's own monomania. What doesn't convince is her fixation on Christopher Lee, no less dull than usual despite his cloak and whip and those peripatetic riding boots. – from an uncredited review [given the similarities to the review above it was most likely “P.J.D.”]


La Cinématographie Française no.2150 (19 February 1966) p.15 – review
Cult Movies no.36 (March 2002) pp.60-61 – review (by Christoper Dietrich)
The Daily Cinema no.9020 (27 January 1965) p.5 – credits, synopsis, review (by P.J.D.)
The Daily Cinema no.9024 (5 February 1965) p.7 – note (Trade shows)
The Daily Cinema no.9025 (8 February 1965) p.5 – note (Trade shows)
Filmblätter no.30 (21 July 1967) p.705 – review
Films and Filming (October 1965) – review (by Raymond Durgnat)
Kine Weekly no.2991 (28 Jan 1965) p.19 – review
Metro no.110 (1997) pp.53-54 – reprinted reviews (Night is the Phantom and The Evil Eye by Raymond Durgnat, originally printed in Films and Filming, September and October 1965)
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.32 no.374 (March 1965) p.40 – credits, synopsis, review
Shivers no.64 (April 1999) p.78 – review (by Jonathan Rigby)
Télérama no.2755 (2 November 2002) p.105 – review (Télévision magazine by Aurélien Ferenczi)
Variety 26 May 1965 – credits, review

The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.153-154
English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.102
Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.9, 130-32, 139, 160, 206, 292, 352
Feature Films, 1960-1969: A Filmography of English-language and Major Foreign-language United States Releases by Harris M. Lentz III p.518-519
The Films of Christopher Lee by Robert W. Pohle Jr and Douglas C. Hart pp.92-93
The Haunted World of Mario Bava by Troy Howarth pp.88-97; 336 – illustrated review; credits
Horror and Science Fiction Films IV by Donald C. Willis p.554
Italian Horror Films of the 1960s: A Critical Catalog of 62 Chillers by Lawrence McCallum pp.234-238 – illustrated credits, review
Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957-1969 by Roberto Curti pp.102-108
Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark by Tim Lucas pp.517-539 – illustrated review, synopsis, production notes, credits
Sixties Shockers by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn pp.414-415