Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Italy, 1960. Galatea Film, Jolly Film. Screenplay by Ennio De Concini, Mario Serandrei, based on the short story by Nikolai Gogol. Cinematography by Mario Bava. Produced by Massimo De Rita, Lou Rusoff. Music by Les Baxter, Roberto Nicolosi. Production Design by Giorgio Giovannini. Costume Design by Tina Grani. Film Editing by Mario Serandrei.
Centuries after a woman (Barbara Steele) is burned as a witch in medieval Russia, an eminent surgeon and his associate disturb her grave on the grounds of an aristocratic estate and, without realizing it, awaken her vampiric self from the grave. Now, the princess of the castle, who happens to look exactly like the undead villainess (and is also played by Steele) is in danger of being taken over by her double, unless our heroes can do something to save her. That’s pretty much the bare bones of the plot, but in the hands of director Mario Bava it becomes a thing of beauty: the visuals are all achieved to perfection, the stunning cinematography and excellent makeup effects (for their time) doing much to elevate this gorgeous film above its B-movie trappings. It’s a cult classic with a deserved following, and Steele is hilariously ravishing in both roles.