Tuesday, October 03, 2006


[Spoilers follow!] The original title of this Italian horror film is THE VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG. That's a more interesting title, but either way, the film itself is a mediocre product, which is a bit frustrating because the plot has potential. The opening sequence is well done: a woman (Roseanna Podesta) wakes up during a thunderstorm, finds her husband gone, and while looking for him, hears faraway moaning. She investigates and finds a room filled with torture chamber paraphernalia, including an imposing iron maiden (The "Virgin" of the Italian title) with blood dripping from it. When she opens it, she finds a dead woman, her empty eye sockets oozing gore. After the credits, we find out that Podesta has just come to live in a German castle with her new husband (George Riviere); the basement of the castle is a torture chamber museum, and there are rumors that a mad torturer from 300 years ago, known as "The Punisher," still haunts the place. For the next hour, we get a lot of tedious scenes of Podesta wandering around the atmospheric halls and grounds of the castle, dodging a few sinister-seeming folks: the scarred museum assistant Erich (Christopher Lee), the creepy housekeeper, a tourist who is apparently a police officer, and a masked figure who may or may not be just a display mannequin that keeps getting moved around. After another out-of-the-blue murder and a scene of torture involving a rat starting to gnaw through a woman's face, we discover that the real killer is no ghost but Riviere's father (Mirko Valentin), a Nazi who was part of the failed scheme to kill Hitler. He was caught and tortured mercilessly--his face now looks like a skinned skull, and he bears a passing resemblance to Ralph Finnes as Voldemort in last year's Harry Potter movie--and he has himself become a mad torturer. The finale is OK, but doesn't quite make the earlier 70 minutes worth sitting through. Because everyone is rather poorly dubbed, even the English-speaking Lee, it's difficult to judge the acting. The musical score is weak throughout; sometimes it's got a weird jazzy/noir feel which is out of sync with the film's tone, and other times it's wildly overdone shock music, which seems intended to make up for the film's overall lack of shocks. [TCM]

No comments: