Castle of the Walking Dead DVD Review
Reviewed by Peter West
DVD released by Eclectic DVD
Directed by Harald Reinl
Written by Manfred R. Köhler & Edgar Allan Poe (story)
1967, Region 0 (NTSC), 81 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on December 2nd, 2003
Lex Barker as Roger Mont Elise/Roger von Marienberg
Christopher Lee as Count Frederic Regula, Graf von Andomai
Karin Dor as Baroness Lilian von Brabant
Carl Lange as Anathol
Vladimir Medar as Pater Fabian
Christiane Rücker as Babette
Dieter Eppler as Coachman
In a effort to achieve immortality Count Regula (Christopher Lee) is stopped after killing 12 virgins, one short of the necessary 13. He is sentenced to be drawn and quartered by Judge Roger von Marienberg (Lex Barker, better known for his Tarzan films). After the execution we are taken thirty five years into the future where Roger Mont Elise (son of von Marienberg) is on a quest to find his identity. He receives a invitation to have his questions answered by Count Regula at his castle.
On the road to the castle he meets Baroness Lilian von Brabant (Karin Dor), who has also received the same invitation. The Baroness has just had her carriage stolen and she agrees to accompany Roger to the castle. Their journey is on a frightening road with corpses hanging on trees as they near the castle. Once inside they meet their host Count Regula after his servant resurrects him from the dead. The Baroness it turns out is the daughter of his last intended victim 35 years ago whose escape resulted in the Count's undoing.
Count Regula has only this evening to reap his revenge upon the son of the man who condemned him and add the Baroness as the 13th virgin and complete his quest for immortality! Using instruments of medieval torture to dispose of and install the proper fear in his victims Regula is only a hour away from immortal life. Will Roger escape the pendulum and save the Baroness from her predetermined fate? Great sets and eerie atmosphere highlight this early Euro Shocker!
Castle of the Living Dead is an abbreviated version of the film! I have read that under another name The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism, it runs much longer. This is really a film for fans of the genre. Today's viewers will find it very tame. Not having seen this in any other version I have no idea what type of footage has been edited. It really could have benefited from nude shots of "Bond Girl" Karin Dor (You Only Live Twice released in the same year 1967).
What I really found funny was Christopher Lee's performance! This was filmed during his stint as playing Dr. Fu Manchu and it seems that he never left character for this one. He plays more of a Count Fu Manchu in his approach to the character, I almost expected him to say "I will return!" at the conclusion of the movie. The history of director Harald Reinl is very interesting. With the exception of Lee, most of the actors are regulars from his films of the '60s. He took over the helm of Frtiz Lang in resurrecting the Dr. Mabuse series. Reinl died in 1986 at the hands of his wife, who stabbed him to death. Maybe he did not give her as many roles as he did previous wife Karin Dors?
Overall I found this to be a interesting film that is historic in being part of the beginning of the Euro Shock genre, most notably made famous by Mario Bava. Lee completists also need this film as well, though it's not his finest moment. Listing for $14.99 and with a online price around $10, it won't break the bank either!
Video and Audio:
Castle of the Walking Dead is presented in pan and scan (IMDB lists the OAR as 2.35:1). This is a fairly obscure movie and whether original elements exist is not clear. The beginning of the films suffers from some damage during the English credits. After the opening scene, it is in far better shape. The colors are a little faded in parts and really not too bad in others, this does not detract from the viewing of this film. Not perfect, but I've seen much worse!
Listed as enhanced audio on the back cover, the sound is crisp and clear. I find most European films have decent soundtracks and Castle of the Walking Dead is no exception. It lends itself to the overall eerie atmosphere of the film quite well.
The only extra is a filmography of Christopher Lee that extends to the mid '90s.