Sometimes you come across a title so incredible tantalizing that you can’t pass it up. Titles that evoke not just certain imagery, but feelings of childhood fear and wonder that as adults, it’s difficult to recapture. One of these titles (and the accompanying film), is the 1964 Barbara Steele classic; “Terror Creatures from the Grave”. One of the very early Italian horror films, it’s odd at times but has a couple of more than memorable scenes that have never been duplicated.
Albert Kovac (Walter Brandi) is an attorney arriving at Castle Hauff to assist in settling the estate of Dr. Hauff. To his surprise, he is greeted by the man’s widow, Cleo (Barbara Steele) and daughter, Corrine (Marilyn Mitchell), who tell him that the Dr. has been dead for a year. A bit taken aback but tired none the less, he accepts an invitation to stay the night, an easy decision considering the company. The company soon wears thin however, as Corrine spills the beans on the goings on at the castle, which make her seem less than totally sane. Apparently, the castle is built on the ruins of an old plague hospital, and many of the unconsecrated remains litter the ground. Oh, and as icing on the cake, she believes that her father’s spirit now wanders the castle halls. Yep, time to go.
Instead of leaving, Albert sticks around to find witnesses starting to die off one by one in gruesome and terrifying ways. Is it the spirits of the plague ridden dead? Or is it the Doctor himself, returning from the grave for revenge?
Terror Creatures is a slow film, mostly talk and little action. This doesn’t make it a bad film, but know what you’re getting into when you pop it in. As I said before, this film does have some interesting scenes and ideas, and let me tell you, severed hands are absolutely creepy when used properly. The atmosphere is also top notch and that helps the slow moving story. At a scant 85 minutes, the slow first act is hardly a chore, especially when the payoff is quite nice.
As usual, Barbara Steele brings her "A" game with her, making the best out of a lack luster script. Though usually unmatched in the sexiness department, she gets stiff competition from Marilyn Mitchell, who has a sort of Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch kinda thing going on.
Walter Brandi, who plays our adventuring lawyer, is well known to genre fans with films like "Slaughter of the Vampires", "The Playgirls and the Vampire", and "The Vampire and the Ballerina". In fact, it's a wonder that he didn't play a vampire this time around. Hmmm, I may have to throw this film in again and watch it in a different light.
One thing I will say about the credits, ignore the whole “Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe thing. This, like many of the films that came out of the sixties, has nothing to do with Poe, not in a direct way, anyway. Much like the far superior “Danse Macabre”(also starring Steele), this film falls victim to misleading marketing, nothing more.
Watch it for what it is, a fun rainy day time killer that while not the ultimate horror film by Barbara Steele or anyone else for that matter, it keeps its heart in the right place. Wanting to bring you an interesting story and give you chills that you haven’t had before, that alone is worth the time.