Fish-Flavored Baseball Bat

It's a John Cleese reference.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Castle of the Creeping Flesh

CASTLE OF THE CREEPING FLESH (1968). Directed by Adrian Hoven. Starring Howard Vernon, Janine Reynaud, and Michel Lemoine.

(Very truncated review this time around...) Sometimes, I don't know what I'm letting myself in for when I rent one of these obscurities. When I started viewing Castle of the Creeping Flesh, it seemed like it was going to be a fun, cheesy bit of gothic ghoulishness, as a group of wealthy, bored aristocrats decide on a lark to go horseback riding in the woods near a foreboding, ancient castle. The fun ended with the first rape scene, which the film treats as merely a minor transgression (as one of the protagonists forces himself on his fiancee's sister, then blames her for tempting him). The movie gets even more repellent from there, both in its attitude towards its female characters and in its graphic content (incorporating actual open-heart surgery footage into its otherwise-standard laboratory scenes). As the movie went on, I realized "I can't write about this"...all I'll say is that William Shakespeare was surely spinning in his grave over the appropriation of a King Lear soliloquy to narrate perhaps the movie's most exploitive scene.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Howard Vernon, playing the sinister Earl of the sinister castle, does his best with the material, making the bereaved nobleman surprisingly sympathetic in spite of his desperate acts. Janine Reynaud (who, like Vernon, is probably best known for her collaborations with the prolific, controversial Spanish director Jess Franco) makes effective use of her icy beauty, but has no character to work with. The most memorable performance, however, is Vladimir Medar (or, at least, the actor responsible for his English dubbing) as the Earl's crude, robust, and LOUD manservant. I have a feeling that his pronunciation of "labyrinth" will be ringing in my ears for a long time...



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