While groundbreaking director Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath) remains the most well-known purveyor of Italian Gothic horror, many other filmmakers tried their hand at the form throughout the 1960s as part of a hugely prolific and popular cycle. Gothic Fantastico presents four off-the-beaten path titles from this classic period, all of which demonstrate Italy’s ability to expand genre beyond the classic literary monsters that dominated elsewhere.
Gaslighting abounds in Massimo Pupillo’s Lady Morgan’s Vengeance – a delicate tale of romance and mystery, with a sprinkling of sadism and the supernatural – as newlywed Sir Harold Morgan (Paul Muller, Nightmare Castle) attempts to destroy his new bride (Barbara Nelli, Double Face) with help from his sinister maid (Erika Blanc, Kill, Baby… Kill!). Meanwhile, the perverse influence of Poe is used to great effect in Alberto De Martino’s The Blancheville Monster – a tale of family curses and madmen in the attic, as Emilie de Blancheville (Ombretta Colli, Gladiator of Rome) returns home to her brother Roderic (Gérard Tichy, Hatchet for the Honeymoon) and discovers her own family may be out for her blood. Mino Guerinni’s The Third Eye features not only a very early role for Italian cult film icon Franco Nero, but a plot that borrows several elements from Hitchcock, layered with a whiff of necrophilia. Finally, Damiano Damiani’s The Witch takes a more avant-garde approach, when a young historian (Richard Johnson, Zombie Flesh Eaters) is lured to work for an ageing woman, only to be held captive when he becomes obsessed with her beautiful daughter (Rosanna Schiaffino, The Killer Reserved Nine Seats).
Madness, obsession and messed up families are the order of the day in these four lesser-known monochrome gems from Italy’s peak Gothic period, now fully restored in 2K from their original camera negatives for the first time and presented alongside an array of in-depth extras.
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