The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967)

Article 2139 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-23-2007
Posting Date: 6-21-2007
Directed by Harold Reinl
Featuring Lex Barker, Christopher Lee, Karin Dor

A lawyer receives a mysterious message which promises to unveil the secret of his past. He visits the castle of Count Regula in the company of a baroness, her servant, and a priest, only to discover that Count Regula was a sorcerer who was drawn and quartered thirty-five years ago. However, this doesn’t mean that he’ll remain dead…

Despite the fact that a lot of the krimi have horror elements to them, the fact of the matter is that not a lot of horror movies came from Germany during the sixties. This is one of the exceptions, and it’s an odd one; the basic plot is very familiar indeed, but it has bizarre and decidedly eccentric touches to it. The music is pretty uneven, the American title is a lie (there is no Dr. Sadism in the movie) and the credits weren’t carefully researched (just for the record, “The Pit and the Pendulum” was not a novel). The German title is accurate enough; there is a snake pit, and there is a pendulum. Outside of the debt it owes to Poe, it also owes one to Mario Bava’s BLACK SUNDAY; in fact, heroine Karin Dor looks quite a bit like Barbara Steele. It’s not a particularly coherent movie, but the best scenes stick in the memory; my favorite moment is a carriage ride through a spooky forest littered with dead bodies, and the scene where Count Regula rises from the dead (which involves his body attaching itself back together) is great. The set design is excellent; Count Regula’s castle walls are decorated with paintings that look like they were done by Heironymous Bosch. I saw this one as a kid, and I never forgot it, and I think it still holds up pretty well today.


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