Log in

No account? Create an account
30 December 2014 @ 12:51 pm
Movie Reviewed: Nightmare Castle, continued.  

imdb cover

Scene 40: In her bedroom, Jenny sits Dereck down on her bed. But she doesn’t recognize him and asks who he is, as we hear Muriel’s tune on the soundtrack again. She goes on to correct the doctor about her being Jenny at all by telling him that she hates Jenny and introducing herself as Muriel.

She then immediately starts a passionate kiss on him and lays him back on the bed. He puts up about the weakest resistance known to mankind before allowing himself a make out session.

Meanwhile a ghostly wind blows into the room. With this interruption, Dereck rushes to the doorway to look in the hallway, while Jenny has a fit of some sort. When he returns to the bedside, he finds Jenny as herself. She asks if he saw what she did and he has to admit that he did. He now seems to believe that something unnatural is happening at Castle Hampton.

Scene 41: The following day, Solange goes to the greenhouse. She hears Jenny discussing with Dereck their belief that Muriel haunts the castle and is reaching out to Jenny. The doctor wants Jenny to leave the castle for a little while where she can be in calm and quiet until they understand more about what is happening. She reluctantly agrees.

Commentary: I want to comment on this development, because it surprised me. I had figured that we were looking at the doctor buying into Jenny’s infirmity more than he has and I didn’t see him becoming her ally in uncovering what happened to Muriel, while believing that they are dealing with the supernatural. So, I was interested in how he was going to play into things. But I am also having an issue with Solange in this scene… her small smile when she hears the doctor taking Jenny’s side that something weird is going on doesn’t make sense to me. She should be throwing irritated glares at the doctor for not playing his part in her and Stephen’s script, or she should actually look terrified that maybe Muriel is haunting the place.

She has after all brought this up to Stephen before and been slapped down for it. You’d think with a psychiatrist now believing that Muriel may be reaching out from behind the grave, she’d be more afraid than ever at a spirit stalking the halls looking for vengeance.

I at first took the little smile as some sort of pleasure in seeing Stephen’s carefully choreographed play starting to unravel for him, as transient as that pleasure may be since it will also screw up her own end goal but it still doesn’t really make sense to me without her deliberately expressing that perhaps through some more snark thrown at Arrowsmith.

Scene 42: In the study, Solange has run to Stephen to tell him how dangerous it is for the doctor to continue being there. She brings up Dereck’s trip to the crypt the night before [apparently it was mentioned off screen].

Stephen is convinced that the doctor saw enough in Muriel’s empty tomb to cause real problems for them if they make him any more suspicious. Apparently the fact that Muriel isn’t in her tomb is damning for some reason.

Solange now insists they find a way to ensure that the doctor doesn’t leave where he can blab that Muriel isn’t where they were supposed to have placed her. Stephen curtly tells her to be quiet.

Dereck once again interrupts them. Doctor Joyce is there to insist that Jenny leave the castle. For some reason, he chooses to go with the ghost story to convince him, despite knowing Arrowsmith is a scientist. Nevertheless, he tells Dereck that he’ll abide by his advice… though after Dr. Joyce leaves he glares after him.


Commentary: This part is deeply flawed storytelling. It doesn’t make sense that if Arrowsmith went to the trouble of proving his wife’s death in the first place to the authorities that it would then be a problem that he cremated her remains. Unless that is somehow deeply illegal at this point in time, but it’s not mentioned.

I’m not seeing how not having Muriel’s body is the thing that puts the entire scheme in danger or why Stephen and Solange would be convinced that it would be their undoing.

Scene 43: Dr. Joyce goes to his room and jots down some correspondence. In the meantime, Arrowsmith is rigging up an electrical wire to the metal bath tub with a switch in the hallway.

He feeds the lines down to his lab on the floor below, where he has a generator for experiments. As you’ll recall, he got rid of Muriel and David the same way ultimately.

Solange wonders why not use poison as it seems more sure, but Stephen replies that there isn’t a poison in existence that doesn’t leave some trace to be found. He wants to ensure that Joyce’s death comes across as simple heart failure.

Scene 44: The doctor readies himself to take a bath, conveniently enough when the butler comes in with fresh towels [HEY- this is the first indication that more than Solange and David were servants in this entire castle… where the hell was this guy for the entire rest of the movie??].

Scene 45: Alas, as the butler is leaving the bathroom, he knocks soap into the bath tub. Of course that will never do. Stephen is in the hallway and hears the water disturbed, so trips the switch.

The effect is immediate as butler keels over with a minimum of fuss.

In the hallway, Arrowsmith hears Dereck’s voice call out as to what happened. Our butler, Jonathon, isn’t to be saved and dies with his eyes wide open in shock.


Scene 46: Later, Dr. Joyce is telling Stephen that poor Jonathon had a sudden heart attack. The rest of the household had been called in but now Solange is instructed to return Jenny to her room.

Stephen asks Dereck to make out a death certificate for the authorities and also to help him get Jonathon to his room until the remains can be properly disposed of.

Scene 47: In the bedroom, Solange gets Jenny comfortable with a throw as she’s sitting in her chair, looking dazed. She tells Solange how much she wants to leave this house before it’s too late.

Scene 48: Once Solange leaves, Jenny is joined by her husband. He tells her she looks a bit distraught and she tells him of her plans to leave with Dereck come morning for wherever he wants to take her… presumably back to the clinic.

Stephen suddenly sounds aggrieved and accuses Dereck of placing her under his spell with his ridiculous ghost tales. He accuses Dereck of outrageously flirting with her and trying to seduce her with his “patience” and “affection”. He tells her that he’s noticed Dereck’s unprofessional level of affection and begs her not to fall for it and leave him. He promises that the two of them will leave the house if she’s so unhappy for anywhere that she wishes. She agrees half-heartedly and he kisses her on the forehead.

Scene 49: Sometime later, Dereck has joined Jenny in her room where he tells her that he believes anywhere that there is fresh air will do her good, but he’d prefer some other solution. She takes this as a sign that her husband was correct in Dr. Joyce’s caring being a pretense toward seducing her from him and turns on the doctor to his complete surprise.

Dereck tries to grapple with how to salvage the relationship between he and his patient while Jenny tells him that she feels like she is just a curious subject for him to keep locked away for study, but the alternative is worse and goes on to imply that she does now suspect him of harboring some sort of plans for a romantic tryst when he gets her alone and thinks that if that is what is in his mind, she finds him contemptible.

Dereck considers what she has said. He tells her that nothing he will say now will convince her that one of her suspicions is correct and offers that since he’s lost her trust, he’ll have to leave. But he also offers that he’s always been fond of her and if she should ever require any further assistance from him, it is hers to ask for.

She’s left to burst into tears once alone, not sure who to trust or what to believe.

Scene 50: In the drawing room, Solange and Stephen warm themselves by the fire. Solange complains that she can’t get warm and that she feels like the blood he gave her  is like ice in her veins poisoning her. She’s come to believe that Muriel is calling out from the grave to have her blood returned to her [and this is the first solid statement that the youth serum did derive from Muriel’s harvesting… it’s so damned strange that it’s taken an hour into the movie to have it stated outright that this is why Solange is youthful].

She pleads with Stephen to help her. She demands that she be given new, young blood… the blood of Jenny to replace that of the witch, Muriel flowing through her. With the psychiatrist to be out of their way come daybreak, Stephen promises Solange she’ll get what she thinks she needs the very next night.


Commentary: This late into the film, I’m finding myself less convinced by the relationship between Solange and Stephen. I’ll put this down to the wildly differing ways he keeps treating her from scene to scene. In one they appear to be barely capable of holding a civil tongue in their heads, and then you get a scene like this one, where Stephen is practically loving toward her. I’m having a lot of trouble understanding why he hasn’t killed Solange for making a pest of herself already, unless he does have some sort of affection toward her… perhaps his feelings just run hot and cold?

But I also think that this part of the film is trying to fill up run time, rather than moving the ghost vengeance story forward toward conclusion because it’s too long and/or the story isn’t focused enough on the ghostly happenings, which should be what the Jenny scenes are about especially when she’s left alone for any length of time.

Scene 51: Later that evening, Dr. Joyce returns to Jenny’s room to find her thrashing about in nightmares in her bed. He listens to her heart without waking her and as he kneels at her bedside, she calls to David not to leave her.

He shouts to the sleeping Jenny as to whether she is Muriel and when he gets confirmation, he asks her to tell him where her body is located. Jenny/Muriel mentions her heart being removed. Dereck asks if Stephen murdered her. She directs his attention to a statue and mentions a dagger before she suddenly stills for a moment.

She then suddenly cries out through trying to catch her breath to go away. Dereck seems to sense something as he looks behind him.

Scene 52: Out in the hallway, we see a shadow on the wall just before Stephen comes up the stairway. He hears Jenny’s distress and stops by her room. He ominously stares down at the dreaming Jenny… Dereck is nowhere to be seen.

Jenny is now quieted, but her eyes are half open in a glassy stare and she doesn’t react to her husband waving a hand in front of her face. He makes a gesture as if he’s thinking about strangling her, but she suddenly looks at him and lets out a terrible scream of terror before seemingly dropping back into a sudden sleep.

Stephen stares at her as he backs his way out of her room. After the door is shut, Dr. Joyce comes out from behind the heavy drapery. He also slips out of the room.

Scene 53: The following day, Stephen is seeing Dereck to the door. Jenny joins them unexpectedly and wonders why Dereck is going so soon. She doesn’t seem quite herself as she brings his attention to the two hearts carved into the fireplace mantle that represent the Hampton crest. Doctor Joyce wishes her a goodbye and a safe trip and hopes to see her again soon.

Scene 54: With the psychiatrist out from under foot, Stephen rushes off for somewhere but is intercepted by Solange who wants Jenny’s unwilling transfusion immediately. She also wants them to escape from this place before Dereck can mention the strange goings on at Hampton Castle and draw unwanted scrutiny on their heads. He tells her that he’s prepping the machinery but it will still take a few hours. He promises that she’ll get her new treatment by this evening.

He tells her that late that evening the three of them will officially leave for their trip… though of course unofficially Jenny won’t be going anywhere. Solange nearly collapses into a chair in a fit of weakness as Muriel’s piano tune plays.

Scene 55: That evening, Jenny is packing a travel bag as a storm begins to rage. She leaves her room suddenly to find her husband.

Scene 56: Stephen is in the drawing room, sitting with Solange. When Jenny joins them to ask her husband something, he gets up with a dead eyed stare at her.



She immediately recognizes the evil in his eyes and is brought to screaming for David, before he slaps her hard across the face knocking her to the floor unconscious.

Scene 57: With Solange, he rushes her to the lab. By the time that she comes awake again, Jenny has been strapped down to a gurney. Stephen is looking at her madly and to her questioning what he’s doing, he tells her that he’s going to free her of her nightmares forever. He torments her that Muriel is calling for her and after tonight, her damned voice will be silenced forever. He takes to shaking her around, yelling at her as if she were Muriel. Even Solange starts screaming for him to stop acting crazy-cakes.

Stephen grabs a cotton rag of ether to put Jenny into a long, unending sleep as she struggles with her free arm to stop him. Even as Jenny succumbs to the liquid over her face though, a mysterious wind starts blowing through the house.

He instructs Solange to lie down on the other gurney while he gets Jenny ready to drain her blood.

Commentary: I’m a little disappointed by this because it feels like the actual ghostly haunting has had very little impact on anything, actually. In fact, since Muriel hated Jenny so much, I had expected that we’d see a lot more evidence of her trying to take over her body and assume her life out from under her while trying to kill her murderous husband and servant. But once Muriel is dead, she doesn’t do very much for being so angry and she seems to be interested in helping her half-sister for despising her so. And what of David? The closest thing we get to his spirit is a dream sequence seen from Muriel’s point of view. Where is his avenging ghost? This could’ve been more interesting if Stephen had come close to killing Dereck so that David could borrow his body, help Muriel-in-Jenny bring Stephen and Solange to a brutal justice and then convinced Muriel to come away with him and leave Jenny in peace to resume her life.

Scene 58: Outside in the storm, we see that Dereck hasn’t actually gone anywhere. He skulks back to the house, checking his time piece and using a secreted key to get in the front door.

He sneaks through the castle, stopping at the statue near the mantle where Jenny deliberately pointed out the two hearts crest.

Scene 59: In the lab, Jenny’s blood has begun to fill the container of the transfusion machine. It’s a slow process and so Stephen tells Solange to stay very still while he goes up to pack their bags to be ready to leave at once when they’ve finished.

Scene 60: In the sitting room, Dereck has found that the crest twists out of position and hides a secret safe. He withdraws something with a look of revulsion, but we don’t see what he’s holding.

Scene 61: He goes into the music room and sets something down. When he steps aside, we see it’s a heart in a tank of fluid. Muriel’s heart.

He reaches in and withdraws a dagger from it. As soon as he does, ghostly laughter echoes around him throughout the castle. He sees both Muriel and David’s ghosts standing on the floor above him, looking down over the railing for a moment, before they fade.

Suddenly, they’re standing in the doorway nearby, looking ghoulish. Dereck backs away from them as moans of torment echo in the room from Muriel.

Which is why he doesn’t notice Stephen in time to avoid getting bashed over the back of the head.
[Nice going distracting spirits.] Our ghouls stare at Stephen as he drops the candlestick he used on Dereck in shock.


The ghoul of David backs away into the dark recess of the corridor, apparently at Muriel’s unspoken command. But she wears a snippy smile at Stephen and calls him name. They walk toward one another and he actually reaches out to touch her. She’s solid. She tells him he can’t destroy her.

He asks what she wants as she was punished already for her treachery. Muriel claims that she’s come to reward him, by showing him that he had given her pleasure… the pleasure of agony turned to ecstasy… which, uh…

Stephen in a shocked trance, allows himself to be led by the hand by his deceased former wife.

Commentary: Yah… I’m not sure about all of this talk about the ecstasy of the torment of the flesh, considering her treatment included acid and fatal electrical shock. I’m thinking that Muriel’s ghoul is a bit crazy-cakes on top of being vengeful. But what I’m really interested in is poor David who seems to me to be more of a thrall to Muriel’s vengeance than actually acting on his own behalf. I don’t feel right about his sense of agency in all of this and it’s making it difficult to want to be on Muriel’s side as she tries to get her own brand of grave-justice on her murdering husband because honestly she appears to be acting more evil than righteous in all of this. Plus, let’s face it -- she wasn’t exactly a nice person to begin with.

I was really sorta hoping by this point that I could look to David as my sympathetic character, but it appears he’ll have very little to do with actually gaining justice for himself.

Scene 62: In the lab, Solange is still receiving the transfusion from unconscious Jenny. She hears footsteps and looks up to find not Stephen, but the ghoul of David strolling across the room for her.

He snatches up a scalpel and slits her wrist. She screams and passes out. Evil laughter follows by the ghoul.

Commentary: See, I don’t really like this part on David’s behalf either because Solange wasn’t responsible for David’s murder. Yes, she’s a bitch but that’s due to what she wants from Jenny -- the only thing she’s guilty of in relation to David and Muriel is telling the doctor about their affair and possibly being more than thrilled to help Stephen dispose of the bodies in exchange for his youth serum attempt. I could certainly see Muriel wanting Solange to suffer and die for using her body to make herself young, but David doesn’t seem to have a real reason to also want her to die. The evil laughter also makes me feel like there isn’t any justice for him, but that he’s a force of vengeance for Muriel, rather than getting his own.

Scene 63: In the bedroom, Muriel tells Stephen she’ll be with him body and spirit until her heart is destroyed as she holds his head tenderly against her bosom. She plays at seduction of her husband.

But of course when he moves her hair aside, half of her face is mutilated and she laughs gaily in his face. He tries to stand to get away from her, but finds himself in the chair with the pinning arms, trapping him. Muriel tells him she wants him to beg and plead and scream for her. She picks up a lantern and throws it at his feet, setting him ablaze.


He dies screaming for her help as she laughs and laughs.

Scene 64: In the lab, David’s ghoul is smashing things. Solange goes through a rapid aging fade as she bleeds out on the gurney. She continues to age right into skeletal remains. David shares in the vengeful laughter.

Scene 65: Upstairs, Muriel continues to gaze upon her handiwork. She continues to dementedly laugh.

Scene 66: Meanwhile, Doctor Joyce continues to lie on the carpet in the music room. We see him come to and look around dazed.

Scene 67: In the lab, Jenny comes around just in time to find herself being strangled by David’s ghoul.

With the ghosts having a physical manifestation, Dereck is able to shove it away from Jenny and rescue her.

Scene 68: But they don’t get far as he rushes again upstairs and instead of rushing out of the castle, he rushes them into the music room. Muriel is there to greet them while David pounds on the door.

His ghoul rushes in. Dereck suddenly grabs the heart of Muriel and throws it into the fireplace and instantly both ghouls vanish.

Our two survivors rush away from the castle out into the storm. Joyce tells Jenny that her nightmares are over and done with forever.

We close on a shot of the heart burning in the fireplace….

The Good: First among the good is the acting of Barbara Steele, Paul Muller and Helga Liné who were all great. I'm also going to give a kudo to Mario Caiano for some very interesting shots, to Ennio Morricone for Muriel's theme and to cinematographer Enzo Barboni for some wonderful uses of shadow and dim lighting.

I really liked the defiant Muriel in the dungeon with her husband, as the acting and scripting was really well done. I also thought it interesting that Muriel is never presented as the "good guy" in all of this. She's just as contemptuous a person as her husband, as evidenced by her seething hatred toward both him and her half-sister who she insults with spite.

I liked some of the wonderfully twisted relationship stuff implied between Solange and Stephen. The scenes between Paul and Helga were fun.

I liked how Muriel doesn't just kill her former husband, but actually seduces him into trapping himself. Burning him alive is also a rather gruesome and twisted vengeance, although I don't see why they didn't have her use the acid that had been used on her before her murder.

The Bad: Well Solange as the aged crone in the beginning is a real makeup failure and it's quite obvious we're looking at a young woman in a wig.

There are some holes in the story, such as the involvement of the rest of the servants which seem to not exist on an estate so large, except for one butler who only shows up finally to die in Dr. Joyce's place and there is never any sign of any authorities that would be necessary for Arrowsmith then to be free to marry Jenny. It also doesn't make much sense why Muriel not being in a crypt is the damning factor that convinces Solange and Stephen that he can unravel their whole evil plan, or if this is what they truly believe, why they allow him to leave the estate alive, anyway.

The entire attempt to kill Dr. Joyce with an electrocution, but killing the butler goes nowhere and there is no second attempt on Dereck before he "leaves", so this whole plot felt like nothing more than a time filler that could've been better used elsewhere, like clarifying the many things in "Other Thoughts".

Other Thoughts: I'm not putting it in the bad, but I don't really like the way that David - so important in the set up of Muriel's death so she can come back later for vengeance - is treated as an afterthought once the deed is done. He never seems to be anything but a shade under Muriel's control but we don't get any indication as to why he'd be so dominated by her or why he isn't out for his own vengeance for his murder. It would almost make more sense for him to go after Stephen, while Muriel's hatred should be directed at not only her husband, but Solange and even her own despised half-sister. David as Muriel's dominated puppet could've worked if we'd actually seen evidence that she controlled him previous to their murder, or if it had been made explicit that he was in her thrall and unable to resist after being undead but it's very muddled.

Also a bit muddled is Stephen's description of his plan for Jenny to Solange. It's worded as if he's going to find a local doctor to impress on that Jenny is unwell so he can have her committed, but then later instead, he goes and sends for her clinic psychiatrist who would know too many details of her case for Stephen to convince the man of anything... it just seems too convoluted to bring somebody in who already is well aware of Jenny's history and what her problems are or are not.

There is also relatively little done for this type of story in regards to whether Jenny is going bonkers, is being haunted, or a little of both. In fact, the story really focuses on the Stephen/Solange partnership more than it does on Jenny being manipulated or dominated by her undead sister.

I liked that Solange was all too ready to assign strange things like the details in Jenny's dream to supernatural causes, while Stephen treated such thoughts with open contempt but again, much more could've been done with this.

I'm a little unclear why exactly Stephen decides to go from committing his new wife to murdering her; It seemed like a sudden change of tactics, when Jenny was seemingly losing her mind as he originally planned. It seems tied to Solange's desire to have a blood replacement, but I'm not convinced that this would do it for Stephen, rather than he getting rid of the "servant" and pain-in-the-ass partner. It'd be more easy to get rid of her than to lose another wife that just happens to leave him a rich widower.

Dereck's belief in Jenny having some sort of unnatural experiences in Hampton Castle feels too rushed to me and comes quite suddenly based on an earring and a dream. It's just not credible if we're to take him seriously as a psychiatrist who is aware of Jenny's previous emotional challenges.

I also found the Solange-returned-to-youth to be sudden, ill-explained, and treated almost flippantly as a throwaway when you'd think this would be utterly amazing and somebody... not least of all herself... would react to this miracle of mad science!

I also found David's place in the story after his death to be badly conceived/explained because he seems more of an extension of Muriel's vengeance than having his own agency, but it's never addressed as to why he isn't more focused on seeing Stephen suffer for murdering him.

The defeat of the ghouls of Muriel and David seems a little abrupt and gave Jenny no agency in conquering her fears and demons... everything is done to her, and then for her. It's disappointing that she wasn't more involved in sending her sister to the beyond in the end.

The Score: Despite the scripting problems mentioned, I really liked the movie due to the performances and some of the fun dialog. But, you can see that so much more could've been done with the story using the elements set up by the script and that makes it disappointing that I can't offer it a higher score. Still, it's a good film if you like the gothic ghost tales, or a Hammer Films-ish sensibility in your movies.

3.5 out of 5 stars