Wednesday, May 29, 2019


The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967) d. Harald Reinl (Germany) (83 min)

Sumptuously lensed German feature (aka Castle of the Walking Dead, Blood of the Virgins, and The Blood Demon, among others) that elicits favorable comparisons to the work of Mario Bava or Roger Corman’s AIPoe series with its colorful, occasionally avant-garde imagery. Christopher Lee assays the role of the sadistic Count Regula who, found guilty of the ritualized murder of 12 virgins, is condemned to death, swearing vengeance upon his judges before having a spiked gold mask smashed onto his face. (Hello, Black Sunday.) Regula’s prophecy seems to come true 35 years later after Roger Von Marienberg, a descendant of the head magistrate (both played by former Tarzan Lex Barker), arrives in town to claim his inheritance: a neglected castle filled with (wouldn’t you know it?) torture devices.

“Inspired by” Poe’s “Pit and the Pendulum” (i.e. there is, in fact, a scene with a swinging, razor-sharp pendulum), screenwriter Manfred R. Kohler whips up a lively tale of resurrection, reincarnation and revenge, with Reinl’s exquisite visuals accentuating the fever-dream mood. Though Lee is very much relegated to the sidelines for much of the running time, with the stone-faced Barker and future You Only Live Twice Bond Girl Karin Dor (using up all the oxygen in the room with her hysterics) taking center stage, this sadly neglected effort is well worth seeking out.

The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism is available now as a bonus disc on Severin’s Hemisphere Box of Horrors (or on any number of public domain collections) and can be ordered HERE:


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