• Castle Of The Creeping Flesh (Severin Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 27th, 2020.
    Director: Adrian Hoven
    Cast: Janine Reynaud, Howard Vernon, Michel Lemoine, Elvira Berndorff, Claudia Butenuth
    Year: 1968
    Purchase From Severin Films

    Castle Of The Creeping Flesh – Movie Review:

    Adrian Hoven , who wrote, produced and co-directed the infamous Mark Of The Devil, is the man responsible for 1968’s Castle Of The Creeping Flesh (also known under the more fitting title Castle Of Bloody Lust), a quirky German trash-horror picture populated by a few Jess Franco regulars.

    The story begins at a swinging shindig – people dance on tables, they drink, there’s lots of bad flirting and hot chicks are everywhere! Baron Brack (Michel Lemoine) is hosting this throwdown at his awesome house but as hopping as it is, he wants something more. As such, he gathers up a few people – most importantly sex bomb Vera (Janine Reynaud) and sister Elena Lagarange (Elvira Berndorff), but joining them are Elena's fiancé Roger (Pier A. Caminneccis), the Baron's fiancée Marion (Claudia Butenuth) and her brother George (Jan Hendriks) - to go horseback riding with him. After a scene where people ride horses through the woods for longer than you probably want them to, the Baron and Elena ride ahead of the pack, at which point the lusty Baron tries to rape the poor woman. Brack and the four others arrive at aging but admittedly very fancy castle home of one Count Graf Saxon (Howard Vernon). Elena doesn’t bother to mention the rape to anyone for some reason.

    Saxon seems unfazed by the arrival of his unannounced guests – in fact, he’s keen to show them around the grounds and talk up his family history before then letting them know that his beloved daughter just passed away… like really just passed away an hour or so ago. She was assaulted in the nearby woods, just like one of his own ancestors many years ago – is there a family curse? Her rape got Saxon so upset that he released his pet bear into the woods! Not surprisingly, Saxon and his servant Alecos (Vladimir Medar) have come up with a way to resurrect the poor dead girl – but in order to do that, they’ll need to scavenge around for suitable body part replacements…

    Never scary but occasionally atmospheric and always entertaining, Castle Of The Creeping Flesh is hard to take seriously but it is a fun watch, particularly if you have an affinity for European trash films. The cast are in decent form here. Lemoine’s eyes seem to go in two different directions at once, making him an odd choice to play the studly rape-happy male lead, but he’s enthusiastic enough in the part to make it work. Janine Reynaud and Elvira Berndorff both get plenty of screen time and are frequently running around in the nude, so that’s a definite plus that almost makes up for the fact that the great Howard Vernon is woefully underused in the film. Pier A. Caminneccis produced the picture, so it’s unlikely he was cast for his acting skills, but hey, check out pretty Claudia Butenuth.

    The movie is pretty rape happy and the sex scenes plentiful and fairly graphic (never getting close to hardcore, mind you, but there is a LOT of skin on display in this picture). At one point one of the women in the film tries to catch the Baron’s eye by making sexy eyes at him and chewing on a chicken leg – it’s an odd way to flirt, but it sort of works. People stare at one another with long, knowing glances every couple of minutes. The scenes that take place in the basement, where Saxon has a secret laboratory, are fairly gory as the filmmakers decided to splice in what appears to be footage from actual human heart surgery into the proceedings. This happens a lot. At first it’s shocking but then after you’ve seen it a few times it loses its impact.

    Still, this moves at an okay pace and features enough strange moments to keep your attention. We won’t spoil what happens to the bear that Saxon let loose during his moment of anguish, but it’s pretty great. The dialogue is so overwrought that you can’t help but get a kick out of it and the eclectic score is kind of fun and the locations are awesome. We get some decent cinematography here too. Rumors abound (well, maybe they don’t abound but they do at least exist) that Jess Franco wrote this one – it does have a fair bit in common with his Awful Dr. Orloff and feature a few of his stock players, so it doesn’t seem like such a stretch, but he didn’t really have much to do with it at all.

    Castle Of The Creeping Flesh – Blu-ray Review:

    Severin Films presents Castle Of The Creeping Flesh on Blu-ray framed at 1.66.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 50GB disc that has a lot in common with the German release from Subkultur Films that came out a few years ago. Taken from a new 4k scan of the interpositive of the uncut version, the picture quality here is excellent. There’s a load of detail present here and very little in the way of print damage, the image is remarkably clean. Skin tones look nice and natural and texture is good. Solid color reproduction makes some of the film’s more garish color schemes really pop while deep black levels are present throughout. Shadow detail is good, there are no problems with any crush or with any macro blocking or compression artifacts to note. Grain is present but never overpowering and the transfer is free of any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement. The screen caps below don’t lie, the movie looks great on Blu-ray.

    DTS-HD Mono tracks are provided in English and German with subtitles available in English and German. The English subtitles translate the German track it would seem, as there are noticeable differences between the subtitles and the spoken English dialogue (meaning it doesn’t seem like these are dubtitles). Quality of the audio is also quite good. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the levels are properly balanced throughout.

    Extras start off with Adrian In The Castle Of Bloody Lust, a twenty minute interview with Joyce and Percy Hoven, Adrian Hoven’s son and widow respectively. They talk about how he form Aquila Films, why he chose a Spanish name for it and how successful the company was in its day. They also talk about some of the actors and actresses that he worked with over the years, his penchant for importing foreign films like Claude Chabrol’s Les Biches, Janine Reynaud and Howard Vernon’s roles in the film (Joyce describes Howard Vernon not as a friend of the family but a gentleman) and quite a bit more. They also show off an old pressbook for the film under the Appointment With Lust title, how and why the heart surgery footage used in the picture stressed Adrian out the different titles that the film was put out under and quite a bit more.

    Also included on the disc is a Q&A session with with Joyce and Percy Hoven that was recorded from their appearance at the Austrian Pulp Film Festival that took place on October 15th, 2015 after a screening of the film. This runs thirty-one minutes and while it covers some of the same ground as the interview, it also has some new information. Joyce talks about how the scenes of cruelty seen in the film were commonplace in the time it was set, she then goes on to talk about how she got involved with Adrian in 1964 just as he was transforming his career. Percy talks about things that he noticed in some of his dad’s films when he was a kid and how he worked on one of them for his fee – a bicycle. They also talk about Joyce’s roll in the production company, whether or not he really directed some of the pictures he is credited with directing and where the confusion over those credits comes from, and quite a bit more.

    Up next is a thirteen minute long location tour segment called Return To The Castle Of Bloody Lust that shows off the locations used in the film as they look today. It’s interesting that the castle itself looks fairly unchanged since the movie was made – even the balcony where the rape is watched from is still there, looking pretty much identical to how it appears in the film.

    Rounding out the extra are English and German trailers, and alternate Appointment With Lust retitled traier, the textless opening credit sequence, the German opening credit sequence as well as menus and chapter selection.

    Castle Of The Creeping Flesh – The Final Word:

    Severin Films has rolled out the red carpet for the Castle Of The Creeping Flesh, presenting it in fantastic shape and with a seriously impressive array of supplements too. The movie itself is a kick, a trashy German gothic horror film chock full of sex, sleaze and strangeness!