The 70s ushered in a new era of sex and violence to the screen, but some films well-blended it with traditional gothic trappings. BLOOD CASTLE happens to fit this category to the hilt. Known in Europe as IVANNA, it was released here by Roger Corman's New World Pictures as SCREAM OF THE DEMON LOVER on an R-rated double bill with Stephanie Rothman's THE VELVET VAMPIRE.
Pretty young biochemist Dr. Ivana Rakowsky (Erna Schurer) travels to the castle of Baron Janos Dalmar (Charles Quiney) as his assistant. Faced with hesitance and discrimination at first, the Baron unwillingly lets her stay on with frenzied results. Sleeping in the raw, Ivanna has constant nightmares about an unearthly being visiting her bedside for some late-night fondling and torture. Expectedly, she and the Baron fall in love and later wed.
But the Baron is one strange dude. Walking about with his fierce guard dogs, he becomes tied to the murder of some local girls. His association with his horny housekeeper results in more torture and death, but we soon learn that his presumed dead brother is alive, living in a closed off section of the castle. The brother was burnt really badly, looking like a pepperoni pizza from head to toe, but he covers his bald cranium with a Tony Orlando wig to resemble the Baron--well at least in the dark of night. More kinkiness and violent depravity ensue until the fiery climax.
BLOOD CASTLE is a Spanish/Italian co-production, which is the best of both world for Euro horror fanatics, and its director would later helm the Paul Naschy vehicle, BEYOND THE LIVING DEAD (aka THE HANGING WOMAN, RETURN OF THE ZOMBIES). Although poorly paced, it gives us an opportunity to see the lovely Ms. Schurer strut around in a nightgown clutching a candelabra, and there's enough T&A and an interesting enough monster to keep the casual viewer intrigued. Agostina Belli from the Richard Burton BLUEBEARD also has a feature role in the film.
Retromedia presents BLOOD CASTLE on DVD fully uncut, as some versions possess a shorter running time. It's letterboxed (non-Anamorphic) at about 1.85:1 and the framing looks accurate. Colors are good, but sometimes the image looks soft and darker scenes are a bit murky, but overall, a decent transfer (the title "Blood Castle" is superimposed much like the previous Wizard video release). The mono audio is acceptable with no major flaws. Extras are the U.S. combo trailer and liner notes by Mirek Lipinski, who intelligently compares the film to the earlier works of Antonio Margheriti. (George R. Reis)
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