Starring: Mickey Hargitay, Walter Brandt, Ralph Zucker, Alfred Rice
DIR: Max Hunter (aka Massimo Pupillo)
Blurb: At a remote castle, a group of models and a photographer are on location for a photo shoot. What the group doesn't realize is the castle is not abandoned as they were led to believe as a deranged and muscular madman has taken up residence in the castle. He believes himself to be the reincarnation of an executioner who was assigned to protect the castle against invaders and the photographer and models are his next victims.
Note: This review is being taken from the "NIGHT SCREAMS 50 Movie Pack", and therefore I can't rely on crisp, clean screencaps.
Scene 01: We open on a piece of parchment with a quote from the Marquis De Sade, "My vengeance needs blood!" We get an evil laugh on the soundtrack.
There is thunder and lightning and evil laughter....
Scene 02: We fade onto the interior of a castle, in which a pompous somebody or other is reading out an order of condemnation. The year is 1648, and the condemned is 'The Crimson Executioner', who has been sentenced to death by a Justice Tribunal. He is marched under guard to the execution dungeon chamber.
The Tribunal has sentenced the Executioner to be put to death using one of his own self-devised torture devices, which he has been found guilty of using on innocent victims. Pompous Judge rambles on about The Crimson Executioner being a bad, bad man who did bad, bad things and now will have bad, bad things done to him in turn.
The Executioner warns that he will come back from the dead to be avenged. As he continues to tell the squad of two soldiers who've escorted him to be executed without any of his judges in attendance, he spouts off about being above any man's law... yadda-yadda-yadda... which does nothing to keep him from being put in a dagger bearing Iron Maiden and having the door shut on his torturing ass.
It takes him several long seconds to die, which I'm sure if he'd been using it on one of his victims, would have taken longer, so I have no sympathy for the bastard. He hangs inside the Maiden as the camera pans down to the blood seeping out of the bottom.
You'd think this would take us to opening credits, but first, we have to hear more pompous intoning by our representative of the Justice Tribunal. As our two soldiers affix a wax seal over the latch for the Maiden, keeping the Executioner's body left within, the Judge assures us that his body and evil soul will be kept forever behind the seal.
The Tribunal guy continues droning on that Crimson's castle will stand forever abandoned with him sealed away in it, never to be looked upon again.
Commentary: Okay, I'm being a bit snappish about this opening, but it isn't badly done at all. Except for the pompous narration, which is never a good idea, the execution itself was handled well, the pan down from the Executioner dying to the blood seeping out of the Maiden was a nice touch, and now we see that there is a passage of time taking place, first by a fireplace extinguishing and then cobwebs formed over chandeliers and such. I just wish the Judge would also age and die ... his voice is that fake, baritone commercial-spokesman voice.
OPENING CREDITS, and a theme score that has a bit of Giallo to it. Under the credits/song, we get shots of the exterior of the castle on a bright, sunny day.
Scene 03: More credits, but our POV has switched from the inside of a car looking out of the windshield, as the camera jitters around enough to make you motion sick. This goes on for quite awhile... you may want to FF or take dramamine prior to viewing.
Scene 04: More credits, but our POV has changed again to the top of the castle's parapet, as we watch a trio of cars arrive out front. The three cars pull up to the front door.
Scene 05: Three men, one an obvious photographer, another in a business suit and a third who I'll assume is the photo shoot's director confer on the perfectness of this site for the shoot, as the various female models exit the cars.
The group surveys the outside of the location, impressed with what they see, because as you know, professional modeling agencies don't do things like "advance scouting" when deciding on possible location shoots. They just hear about a place, load everyone up, and go.
One of our group actually says, "I wonder what it looks like inside....", because - as you would - they have apparently decided to schlep the models and the equipment to a castle in the middle of nowhere (there has been mention of a several hour drive) on the off chance that hopefully there will be a setting appropriate to photo-shoot. And, it's about to get even more idiotic.
But first, we have to spend some time with a pair of couples. Perry is the male half of one of these, and his model girlfriend is complaining about 'bad vibes'. The second couple is Raul and another model. He tries to get some play, she objects that someone will see them.
At the front door, the business suit guy is ringing the bell at the door, hoping someone is actually living there and will also not mind if they traipse in and take over the castle for their photo shoot.
Scene 06: It is decided that since no one is answering the door, they'll just send one of them scaling up the wall using the vines growing on it to illegally enter and let everyone else in (as you would under these circumstances).
ACK - CONTINUIITY WHIPLASH!
We don't get to see anyone scale the wall - instead, we're suddenly seeing them entering the foyer.
Scene 07: Within the entryway, the castle is shockingly clean and web-free, indicating that someone must be at least tending to the place. Everyone has no problems whatsoever wandering upstairs.
Perry's model girlfriend tells him again that there is something evil in the castle. He ignores her.
Scene 08: Upstairs, model in pink (and I believe Raul's girlfriend) has seperated from the others and is looking for her stud-muppet. She is startled by a suit of armor, even though she's just passed half a dozen suits of armor just like it in the corridor. I hate her.
Raul is a putz and comes up behind her and grabs her by the shoulders to put a fright in her. I hate him.
She turns to march away in a huff and complains about his propensity for childish joking. But, when she turns around to gaze angrily at him, he's gone again. She starts calling his name some more and returns down the corridor.
She knocks over a skeleton propped in the corridor in monk's robes, thinking it was Raul. Everyone else joins her and they all stare at this strange sight. Raul remains missing.
Everyone finally notices that there is no dust on anything, so the castle must be inhabited.
Scene 09: A man in a sailor shirt and tight white pants confronts them and wants to know who they are and why they're there.
Business suit guy apologizes, stating they thought the castle was empty (And therefore breaking and entering would be entirely okay?). He asks to speak to the owner about a business proposal... because, as you know, you don't arrange location shoots in advance. You just show up where you think maybe there would be some cool ambiance ... with the models, the photographer, all of the equipment... and then bargain for the space on the spot.
These people are too effing stupid to be in business.
Commentary: What I will give props to, since I obviously can't give the script anything, is the set design. The castle looks very impressive from the outside and the interior design is well done for an Italian B-Movie.
Scene 10: They're brought to the owner of the castle, who complains about their entering illegally. The business-suit guy once again apologizes and explains that they thought the place was empty. The owner (who is Travis Anderson) points out that doesn't excuse their breaking in (THANK YOU!) and complains that he doesn't like having his privacy disturbed.
Anderson complains about them disturbing his peace, while business suit guy asks that he make an exception to his 'no visitors' policy as they've been traveling for several days and everyone is so tired.
Commentary: Right. We've travelled several days to reach a place which we had no idea if we wanted to use or if we'd be able to secure use for a modeling shoot involving possible book covers? THIS is what the writer came up with to get these folks to the castle of Nutbar Anderson?!
I hate you script writers.
Scene 11: Back in a room where the models were told to wait, Business Suit Parks reports that they have to leave. Perry and the models complain that they've been dragged all over looking at castles for this shoot and they're getting tired of it. Perry-Girlfriend asks why they don't just build their own and get it over with, and although she's being facetious, I do have to wonder why they don't just build a set since this whole thing is for a few book jackets.
As everyone glumly gathers their things, Anderson has seen one of our models through a one way glass behind a shelving unit of object d'dust collectors. He immediately decides he must have her - and naturally, she's the most demurely dressed, so she'll be our final girl. Anyway, he speaks to them over a speaker on the wall and tells them that he might have been too hasty. He reports to Parks that he apologizes, that he is usually not so inhospitable. He offers them rooms for the evening and agrees that they can shoot their photography, as long as they don't disturb him.
He reports that the servants will show them the space they can set up for their shoot - but they're all warned in no uncertain terms that the dungeon spaces are off limits to everyone... Uh-Huh.
Scene 12: We get this bizarre shot of someone playing with this swing of daggers - but their face is blocked and it's so quick that it seems pointless.
In one of the rooms, our Poofy-Haired Blonde Model is stripping down to change. Final Girl helps her with her costuming. Also present are Raul Girlfriend and Perry Girlfriend. Since there is no nudity, not even a bra-shot, this scene is also filler.
Scene 13: Business Suit Guy rushes the models and tells Edith (Final Girl) to get them downstairs. The models complain that he never knocks before entering their dressing rooms... he complains that they know he's like a father to them all and isn't lecherous.
Scene 14: At the same time, far below in the catacombs, Perry and Raul are exploring. Perry is apparently the sole male model (and I'll resist pointing out that he isn't really model material... oh, no, I guess I won't) because he's dressed in a skeleton body stocking. Would it shock you to learn that they've wandered right into the dungeon, that they had already been warned to avoid?
Perry is startled by Bat-on-a-String, which causes him to fall back into an axe hanging on a wall. This axe falls perfectly to break the seal on the Maiden holding the Crimson Executioner.
The door on the Maiden swings open slightly, but the living men don't notice and continue on.
As our POV drifts away from the skeleton of the Executioner, there is a shadow of a muscular man cast against the wall near the Maiden.
Scene 15: We startle-jump-cut to Poofy-Haired Blonde Model lying with her eyes open and a knife in her throat lying across a floor. We pan out, and then jump out to see that this is a staged scene. Photographer Guy and Final Girl are working on getting some good photos.
They get the shot and then Blonde tells everyone on the sidelines that being dead isn't any fun. We get a photo montage to what I can only describe as clown music as Perry and the Models (that should be a band name) are posed in various murderous tableues for photographer's camera.
Scene 16: After the montage scene, which is played for comedy, we join a new modeling scene in the set-up mode. The set involves the daggers swinging on a contraption that was in the bizarre shot of Scene 12, and Perry is to be the victim (Hah, I bet).
Scene 17: Upstairs, Final Girl attempts to meet with the castle owner for some unspecified reason, but is rudely blocked by one of the servants. Rick suddenly appears in the room, for no discernable reason, and tells the rude guy that that isn't any way to treat a lady. Final Girl leaves with Rick without getting to see Anderson.
Rick and Final Girl head down the corridor, where Rick points out that the house is very strange. The windows, even on the upper stories, are barred and have planks of wood nailed over them. He mentions that he used to be a reporter and wonders what sort of interesting things he might be able to find out about the Castle's master.
Commentary: This plot point is useless, since he'll never actually do any research or contact anyone to ask about Anderson so it's being introduced is just to waste time until we can get to the Crimson Executioner killing the nubile models. The big minus for this movie (in addition to the ludicrous set up to get everyone trapped here) is the dreadful pacing. And also, I can't stand the self-conscious acting of our Final Girl, either. But, we've started this, so we must go on....
Oh, we learn that Rick is the writer - which makes his inclusion in this expedition utterly pointless. He asks Final Girl Edith about what she needed to see Anderson about, but she just gets a glassy look on her face (Which I'm not sure is deliberate acting - ow, snap!) and tells him it was just curiousity.
Scene 18: Back in the forbidden dungeon, Raul has done his part (I believe that he is in charge of setting up the lighting), so drags Suzie (aka Raul's Girlfriend) off into a corridor so they can make out between shots. In the meantime, Photographer Guy has Perry hold his pose on the Dagger-Pendulum Slab. The other models aren't needed for this shot and back out of camera range, but are watching the shoot with Business Suit Guy.
Just as the Photographer snaps his first picture, the Pendulum swings down, and because everyone on this production are imbeciles, the daggers are low enough to rake down Perry's naked chest. Perry's Girlfriend screeches in horror.
Poofy-Haired Blonde Model screams.
Other Brunette Girl cries out, "Oh, no!"
Commentary: Yes, all of the girls kindly wait until their co-worker is done with their dramatic exclamation before proceeding, giving this a bizarro-world round-robin of horror effect.
We next get a reaction shot from Business Suit Guy, which causes me to bust out laughing, so I here share it with you:
Oh, the horror of it all.
So, next Rick and Final Girl, who have by now returned to the shoot, express their mutual revulsion at poor Perry's ridiculous and unnecessary fate. Rick stares up at the rope that was holding the swinging blades of death, but doesn't ask just what the hell they were doing having lethal torture paraphrenalia in working condition hanging above Perry and without any attempt to make sure that if a weird accident happened that the blades wouldn't cut him open (or so it is being implied).
Scene 19: Meanwhile, we join Raul and Raul's Girlfriend who feel the need to wander to the other end of the compound before he can pressure her to make out with him. They finally end up in the room with the Maiden, which actually means that they've walked in nearly a complete circle while Perry was meeting his maker. Raul's Girlfriend is able to distract him from his horndogging by asking about it. Raul opens it, only to find it empty - The Crimson Executioner's skeleton is missing.
The empty Iron Maiden is enough to get Raul's Girlfriend in the mood and she draws him into her flimsily dressed embrace (Aren't dungeons usually cold, dank and damp - not one of the only half-clad women seem to notice). Just as he starts kissing her neck, she pushes him off, complaining that she's suddenly scared (except she says it in the most bored voice imaginable).
She runs off a short distance, to collapse in a dark corner, with him following and calling her name. He helps her to her feet and returns to kissing her throat. He then lowers her onto some old, probably moldy, burlap sacks on the floor so he can start with the luuuuuvve-making, while she glances off to her right, still looking bored to me.
He moves to kissing her chest, and I'm expecting them to get deaded, but no. Apparently, it was just important for us to know what they were up to while Perry was getting stabbed.
Scene 20: Back at the scene of Perry's shishkabobbing, Perry's Girlfriend stands over his covered body, weeping. Final Girl draws her away, while Business Suit Guy confers with Photography Guy and Rick. They're standing with one of Anderson's goons, who assures them that he has been informed. Business Suit Guy tells Rick that the rope was badly worn, and they had overlooked it.
Rick asks Business Suit Guy what he's going to do now, but he says he doesn't know. Obviously, they aren't going to immediately leave for the nearest town to get the authorities. For some reason, Rick still doesn't ask why they were using a real and working piece of torture equipment, set low enough to kill Perry, in a photo shoot.
Scene 21: Upstairs, Other Brunette and Poofy-Haired Blonde are somber when Business Suit Guy and Rick join them. As expected, Business Suit Guy insists on going on with the shoot. He claims that Perry was like a son to him, but you know... money is involved, after all. At first the models are resistent, but he offers triple wages to complete the project.
Photographer comes in at that moment and gets Rick's attention. He shows him the negative of the photograph he took at the moment the blades of doom fell, and Rick immediately picks up on the mysterious shadow in the doorway at the edge of the shot. He wonders what it is. Both Rick and Photographer Guy agree it looks like it may be a man's head caught in the background of the shot. In addition, Photographer Guy points out to Rick that it looks like the man is wearing a hood... dah-dah-dah!
Scene 22: Back with Raul and Raul's Girlfriend, they're still making out on the floor. She gasps in shock, and there standing and watching them is some pervert in a red hood!
He stalks in their direction, and Raul tries to attack him, but gets put in a hold, instead. Which is entirely appropriate since the Crimson Executioner both looks and sounds like he should be on WWE or WWW or RAW or whatever the current wrestling conglomerate is called. Raul quickly has his neck snapped. Raul's Girlfriend sits there like a lump of useless.
She crawls on the floor for a bit as he closes in on her and then just lies there and waits....
Scene 23: We cut to the Photographer Guy developing his negative. Rick is with him, and they exposition that the figure in the background should be clearer on the print. As they're trying to puzzle out the fuzzy detail, admitting it doesn't tell them much more than they had before, Anderson joins them. He's wearing... something colorful, I give him that... and asks to see the photo.
Anderson leads Rick and Photographer Guy back to the lobby, relating that he may have an explanation for the shadow in the photograph. He tells them the tale of the Executioner. He points to the way to the dungeon, which everyone already knows, and tells them his theory that there may be an evil spirit at work.
Blank Faced Final Girl joins them unexpectedly and there is something that passes over her and Anderson, but since both of them are a blank slate, it's a guess as to what. Whatever it is, Rick notes the intense staring contest between them.
The clock tolls in the background which seems to break the ... whatever... between the two blank faces. Anderson announces he's going to retire, as he's a creature of habit and wishes them a goodnight.
Scene 24: We follow him to his rooms. He stands for a moment, lost in thought. Suddenly the fakest of fake laughing is heard by him and he goes to a painting on the wall. Moving this, we see that he has a face-shaped indentation in the wall behind the painting. It is fitted with spy-holes, which he now uses to watch Poofy-Haired Blonde and Other Brunette as he listens in on what they're talking about.
They're not saying anything interesting.
He puts the painting back in place, and wanders in a daze for a second. He goes on an "I'm a psycho" rant about their desecrating beauty and stares at nothing intensely....
Scene 25: Meanwhile, Rick and Photographer Guy have left Final Girl behind and are in the dungeon catacombs, wandering around again. They both wonder if their host isn't a bit nutso-cuckoo, being isolated (except for his couple of goons) in this big castle.
Commentary: Wow, this film is draggy. It's about here that I start entertaining Rick/Photography Guy slash fantasy, figuring this would be a good place for them to fall into one another's arms, admitting that something is wrong here and they want to admit their feelings in case the worst should happen. This doesn't happen.
They've come across the Iron Maiden, again....
Commentary: You know, everytime somebody comes across it, they act like they've never seen it sitting there before. But from what I've seen of previous scenes, everyone passed it on their way to the bed of swinging knives where Perry was killed. And, I'll tell you now, this isn't a ghost story, or a killer skeleton story, so constantly returning to this thing is wearing thin.
They open the Iron Maiden, only to find that Raul's Girlfriend was stuffed within and had it closed on her! Rick helpfully observes that this couldn't have been an accident.