Terror Creatures from the Grave (1965)

Article #1290 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-25-2004
Posting Date: 2-22-2005
Directed by Massimo Pupillo
Featuring Barbara Steele, Walter Brandi, Mirella Maravidi

A lawyer visits an old castle to help make out the will of a man whom he discovers has been dead for a year. He then discovers that all the witnesses at the man’s death have been dying one by one over the last year.

This movie claims that it was “inspired by Edgar Allan Poe”, which seems like a way of saying that it’s not based on any specific work of his. I could cynically point out that the any horror movie could be described as having been “inspired by Poe”, as I think the whole horror genre was inspired by him. Nevertheless, I think they mean something specific; I suspect that certain plot elements in the story were indeed inspired by a reading of “The Masque of the Red Death”. Certainly, the basic storyline (revenge from beyond the grave) isn’t very original, but the fact that the story ties itself to the execution of ancient “plague spreaders” gives it an unusual twist. This movie has some nice moments; in particular, a bizarre shot of plants moving in a tank of water, and a shot of a row of severed hands coming to life stay in the memory. The ending itself is pretty good as well, and some of the murders are memorable. Unfortunately, the middle section of the movie feels protracted and tedious, and the movie becomes quite dull on occasion. I also believe the ending makes a major mistake by refusing to let us catch a glimpse of zombie plague spreaders. Though I suspect this was done to allow our imaginations to run wild, it fails because it never really gives a sense of a real “presence” of the creatures; instead, we get the sense that the actors are reacting in horror to nothing at all. I also find it hard to believe that the zombies would have been too grotesque to show; given the number of disturbing visuals used in the movie (mutilated faces of men after having been stomped on by horses, infected with plague, and burned with acid), to not show the zombies because they would have been too grotesque would have been an act of hypocritical coyness.

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