Following an almost consistent series of flawed discs, whether it be typos, framing issues, and other technical goofs, Shriek Show has bounced back in 2004 with a handful of very good discs, including FACELESS, SLAUGHTER HOTEL, and this long-awaited entry in the Italian Gothic horror genre, THE VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG. It was well worth the wait; fans of the film will not be disappointed!
Young newlywed Mary awakes in her husband's ancestral castle to the sounds of screams in the dungeon one stormy night. She ventures down into the dark underbelly of the house, populated with medieval torture devices, to discover an eyeless woman's body in the Iron Maiden. Her husband Max and the local doctor believe that she is imagining things, but Mary begins exploring the strange house, finding more instruments of death and incurring the wraith of the mysterious maid Marta and the horrifically scarred servant Erik (Christopher Lee, dubbed here). She then learns the history of her husband's ancestor, known as the Punisher, a sadistic brute dressed in black with a red hood over his face who found pleasure in torturing innocent young girls in the dungeon. Has the Punisher returned to wreak havoc or is the culprit a more human threat....?
First things first: VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG is not your typical Gothic horror, as it was shot in color and the crisp black-and-white photography of earlier Gothics is sorely missed. Margheriti also shot THE GHOST with Barbara Steele the same year, also in color, leading the genre in a new direction. It's certainly not as effective as earlier Gothic masterpieces (BLACK SUNDAY, CASTLE OF BLOOD), but the atmosphere of dread is well-established in the shadowy castle and the name of the game is suspense. Rossana Podesta gives a very compelling performance as the inquisitive young bride, and the scenes of her bedroom door being smashed in by the Punisher and witnessing the maniac attach a rat cage to a poor victim's face are highlights of the film. Packed with screams, hidden passageways, plot twists and turns aplenty, and surprising violence, VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG does take a while to get started, but the pace is quick once it gets kicking and evolves into a minor Eurohorror classic.
Good news! Shriek Show's widescreen (1.85:1) anamorphic transfer of VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG looks great! Colors are vivid and bold, blacks are solid and deep, and the framing is accurate. Some scenes seem a little too dark for comfort, and green speckles appear at a few moments during the film. The mono audio is far too thin, however, which could be the fault of the English dub track during its preparation. Music is loud and clear, while dialogue is muffled.
The extras on the disc are limited, which is surprising considering Christopher Lee has been interviewed on many of his film's DVD incarnations, but what supplements there are include a stills gallery comprised of German lobby cards, international posters, and for some reason locandinas of THE DEVIL WEDDING'S NIGHT and SLAUGHTER HOTEL (?!), and trailers for VIRGIN OF NUREMBERG, FACELESS (another excellent Shriek Show disc), Shriek Show's in-house horror film FLESH FOR THE BEAST (not that bad), and FLESH EATER, the low-budget zombie atrocity directed by Bill Hinzman of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. (Casey Scott)
BACK TO REVIEWS