Castle of the Walking Dead (1967)
Castle of the Walking Dead (aka The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism)(1967) is another well-constructed European horror vehicle that played frequently on UHF TV in the 1970’s. It’s loosely based on the Poe story The Pit and the Pendulum, and would make a perfect late night companion film opposite Roger Corman’s 1961 Vincent Price classic. Castle of the Walking Dead (not to be confused with the moody Castle of the Living Dead) features Christopher Lee as the diabolical Count Frederic Regula, who returns from the dead to seek revenge after he was drawn and quartered.
The films stars Karin Dor as Baroness Lilian von Brabant and Lex Barker as Roger von Marienberg, who are descendants of council members that ordered Regula’s death. Fans of 007 will immediately recognize the beautiful Karin Dor who appeared in You Only Live Twice (1967). She also appears in Hitchcock’s Topaz (1969). Barker was a handsome actor popular in the 1960’s, having parts in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and in several German-made TV westerns. Carl Lange plays Regula’s servant Anatol. In the copy I watched he sounds like a dead ringer for John Furlong, who narrated the prologue for Faster, Pussy Cat! Kill! Kill! (1965). I’m wondering if Lange was dubbed by Furlong. The film is well cast with solid actors. The film’s script doesn’t allow much screen time for Christopher Lee, but when he’s in it he delivers the goods.
This film is loaded with bizarre props, such as bodies suspended from gnarly old trees, castle dungeons and corridors filled with skulls, weird murals, a pit filled with snakes, spiders and scorpions and nefarious torture devices.
Castle was directed by Austrian Harald Reinl, best known to sci-fi enthusiasts as the director of the pseudo-scientific Chariots of the Gods (1970) and In Search of Ancient Astronauts (1973)(a TVM reworking of Gods). He was a capable director known for a visual flair. I’d love to see some more of his films including The Carpet of Horror (Der Teppich des Grauens)(1962), where he directed Karin Dor, and Deadly Jaws (1974), a sunken treasure film. His Dr. Mabuse films, starring Gert Frobe are entertaining, fast paced vehicles.
Ah, and then there’s that pendulum!
Christopher Lee vs. the Cross.
My copy of Castle of the Walking Dead ran about an hour. I suspect it was heavily edited. The print is crappy and appears to have been derived from a video tape. I would love to see a good copy of this film in its entirety. This is another Christopher Lee gem and perfect Halloween fodder.