Danza Macabra Volume One: The Italian Gothic Collection [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Severin Films
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (18th April 2023).
The Film

"In a genre known for its castles, crypts and candelabras, Italian Gothic also embraced themes of violence, madness, and sexual deviance. With these 4 films, those impulses dare to go even deeper."

Monster of the Opera: Dancer Giulia (Barbara Hawards, probably a pseudonym) has been having nightmares in which she is chased through labyrinthine corridors by a vampire (Kill, Baby... Kill!'s Giuseppe Addobbati) . When her theatrical troupe manager/lover Sandro (Tomb of Torture's Marco Mariani) books the rundown Aquario Theater, not only does Giulia recognize the building from her nightmares but caretaker Achille (Mill of the Stone Women's Alberto Archetti) recognizes her too as the reincarnation of a actress who mysteriously in the theater. The atmosphere of the theater has a strange influence on the troupe, particularly Giulia who is given to wandering off during rehearsals and getting lost in the theater, and rival Rosanna (Death on the Fourposter's Vittoria Prada) is looking to step into her place. When the vampire appears "in the flesh" and the troupe discover that they are locked inside the theater, their only way out may be for Giulia to join the vampire in his dimension of shadows with the eternally damned souls of earlier victims.

The second of two vampire films directed by Renato Polselli early in his career, Monster of the Opera occupies with the previous year's The Vampire and the Ballerina – and the thematically-related The Playgirls and the Vampire by Piero Regnoli and Slaughter of the Vampires by Roberto Mauri – the flipside of Italy's "Golden Age of Gothic Horror" that gave us the likes of Black Sunday and The Horrible Dr. Hichcock among others. From the opening, the film strives for a surrealistic "pure cinema" but the spell dissipates as soon as exposition is required, and the film drags through the middle with a focus on practical jokes, backstage romances, catty behavior, and dance rehearsals that the viewer may find Giulia's behavior as tiresome as her colleagues. Things pick up once the vampire shows up and the film cuts between Giulia finding out the particulars about her earlier incarnation's tragic romance – a dynamic that calls back to that of the "ugly" vampire and his seeming aristocratic captive in The Vampire and the Ballerina – with the vampire and the dancers on stage attempting to evade becoming prey through constant movement, and it seems as though Giulia may sacrifice herself to give the vampire peace and rescue Rosanna from his clutches but the ending is far more conventional. Originally a journeyman director, Polselli's career took a turn towards rare, fetishistic loosely-defined thrillers and horror films – with a late turn to hardcore pornography – and he would refine his surrealistic approach to the vampire genre a decade later with The Reincarnation of Isabel.

The Seventh Grave is set in "Old Scotland" at the turn of the century where the heirs of Sir Reginald Thorne – a wealthy scientist who died when he was struck by a pernicious form of leprosy – are called to his castle for the reading of the will. Among them are venal American brothers Jenkins (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly's Antonio Casale) and Fred (Patrick Still Lives' Gianni Dei) along with Jenkins' mistress Mary (Bruna Baini), the Reverend Crabbe (Sex of the Witch's Ferruccio Viotti), Colonel Percival (Umberto Borsato) and his psychic daughter Katy (Stefania Nelli), and Sir Reginald's faithful retainer Patrick ('s Calogero Reale). Also in tow is Betty (Black Sunday's Germana Dominici), waitress from the local inn brought in to assist attorney Bill Elliot (War of the Planets' Nando Angelini) in accommodating the heirs during their stay. Elliot reveals that he cannot read the will until two days later as stipulated by Sir Reginald but that it may involve the legendary treasure of pirate Sir Francis Drake which is rumored to be somewhere on the estate. After a tour of the estate the next day – including a visit to Sir Reginald's crypt and his lab which seems to have been in recent use – the impatient heirs push Katy to use her mediumistic powers to contact Sir Reginald about the treasure. Katy has a hard time contacting her spirit guide who can only warn her and the heirs to leave while they still can before the connection is broken; whereupon, they see a light in the chapel and discover Patrick hanging from the bell cord while Sir Reginald's tomb has been opened and his coffin is now empty. Fortuitously, Inspector Wright (Don't Wait, Django... Shoot!'s Armando Guarnieri) arrives as part of the force scouring the countryside for an escaped leper who used to be Sir Reginald's assistant; however, even he is at pains to explain how Sir Reginald's disfigured corpse turns up in the great hall at the piano while one of the heirs turns up dead in his coffin.

Less an Italian gothic than a throwback to the "old dark house" thriller, The Seventh Grave is indeed like Universal's strain of that sub-genre from the forties without the humor and offering little else. Although the film benefits from the use of the Castello Piccolomini in Balsorano – seen throughout the Italian gothic phase in films like Bloody Pit of Horror and Terror in the Crypt along with later films like The Lickerish Quartet and Malabimba – it is rather stolidly staged in terms of camerwork (cinematographer Aldo Greci's clumsy touch is as evident here as in The Playgirls and the Vampire) and performance, with overlit sets devoid of atmosphere and Leopoldo Perez Bonsignore is as saccharine as it is overemphatic. The film's only striking scene is the sιance in which a low angle shot of the characters suspending their hands in the air over a too small table while the rest of the film consists of characters running from one room to another with even the few sustained shots of lone characters walking down corridors following sounds lacking thrills. Ultimately, The Seventh Grave is more of a curiosity piece, not only due to its obscurity but also its attempt to be different from its contemporaries (even frustratingly so).

In Scream of the Demon Lover, female biochemist Dr. Ivanna Rakowsky (Deported Women of the SS Special Section's Erna Schurer) arrives in an Eastern European village to take a job at the castle of scientist Baron Dalmar. Her attempts to hire a wagon to take her to the castle are shunned, and the only person willing to take her to the Castle Zidia is Feodor (The Great Kidnapping's Ezio Sancrotti) who has just used his wagon to carry the coffin of the latest in a string of murders of young girls. Feodor informs her that scientist Baron Igor Dalmar was killed in a laboratory explosion six months before and that the current baron is ladies man Janos (Girls for Mercenaries' Carlos Quiney) is the chief suspect in the killings; of course, then Feodor attempts to rape her so she takes what he tells her with a grain of salt. Housekeeper Olga (Cristiana Galloni) attempts to turn her out – suggesting she "peddle her wares" elsewhere – and Janos also wants to send her away; however, Ivanna stands her ground and plans to hold Janos to his employment contract. Ivanna rankles at the jealousy of Olga and younger housemaid Cristiana (Night of the Devils' Agostina Belli) that she too will not be immune to the baron's charms and intends to keep things on a formal, professional level as she sets about attempting to build upon the baron's and his late brother's work in attempting to regenerate dead matter. At night, however, Ivanna suffers from vivid nightmares in which she is bound in a torture chamber and groped by mysterious hands. Although Janos dismisses her nightmares as hallucinatory side effects of the compound used to preserve his brother's charred corpse, Ivanna herself comes to suspect that Janos is not a well man; however, she keeps her suspicions to herself when the local constabulary finally convinced the visiting city inspector (Howl of the Devil's Mariano Vidal Molina) to visit the Castle Zidia as the killings continue.

Although made a few years after the golden age of Italian Gothic horror during the time when the giallo genre was moving from jet set jaunts and fortune hunting to body counts and psychosexual traumas, the Italian/Spanish co-production Scream of the Demon Lover is perhaps the most "traditionally" Italian Gothic, sharing with The Seventh Grave a castle setting and mysterious experiments, and a climactic conflagration; but here we have a more consistently-menaced through less passive, more headstrong heroine who is as underrated by Janos as she is by the police inspector who assumes she is frightened and hiding something when she is not and later that she is being honest when she is lying to him. In addition to borrowings from Charlotte Brontλ's "Jane Eyre" – and a reference in the dialogue to "Bluebeard" when Ivanna facetiously speculates on what lies behind a locked door Janos forbids her from entering – the film also throws in a psychological treatise on lycanthropy that seems an obvious red herring that actually could have been effectively used as more than a means to throw Ivanna off the right track since Janos later expresses a surprising ignorance about the very likely possibility of who is behind the murders had he too started to wonder if he might have a split personality. The onscreen gore is restrained and much of the not-too-gratuitous nudity consists of the torture chamber bits that look like they were staged for Italian photo comics, and the battle of the sexes dynamic between Janos and Ivanna is less interesting than her phantom groper's obsession with her purity and threats to her should she not remain so. Journeyman Spanish director Josι Luis Merino and cinematographer Emanuele Di Cola (Feast of Satan) achieve a chilly atmosphere with the added production value of the infrequently-filmed Castello di Montechiarugolo, and Merino was not one to repeat himself, achieving an equally effective but different Gothic atmosphere in his only other horror film, the gorier, sexier zombie film The Hanging Woman.

Lady Frankenstein is Tanya (The Devil's Wedding Night's Rosalba Neri) – daughter of the famous Baron Frankenstein (Citizen Kane's Joseph Cotten) – who returns home from medical college with the secret knowledge that her father and his his crippled partner Charles Marshall (A Virgin Among the Living Dead's Paul Muller) have long been toiling over the challenge of human organ transplantation and discovers that they have spent the last three years building a human in order to create life artificially. When he makes a special request of grave robber Lynch (Mark of the Devil's Herbert Fux) for a corpse less than six hours old in order to give the creature a brain, he and his buddies set up rival Jack Morgan (Amuck's Petar Martinovitch) for murder and public execution by hanging. Before he and the baron are about to transplant the brain into their creation, Charles notices a lesion which has damaged the hypothalamus which regulates pleasure and anger. He implores the baron to get a new brain or repair the damage, but the baron is impatient and proceeds with the transplant. When the lightning needed to jump start the body strikes the creature's face, it wakes up disfigured and angry, killing the baron before escaping into the night. Although Charles fears that the creature will harm others, Tania wants to protect her father's reputation and uses the older man's attraction to her to convince him to go with her story that a robber murdered her father. The village's police captain Harris (Bloody Pit of Horror's Mickey Hargitay) is disinclined to believe their story of a seven-foot assailant until more killings occur. As Harris connects the killings to Morgan's vengeance on the men who set him up, Tania has convinced Charles to help her create a second creature strong enough to destroy the first; however, that appears to be her secondary goal as she wants to transplant Charles' brain into the body of studly but simpleminded servant Thomas (Nightmare Castle's Marino Mase).

With Italian exploitation's move towards the more sexually explicit in the 1970s, it was just a matter of time before the Frankenstein story got sexed up; and Lady Frankenstein – the "brainchild" of producer/director Mel Welles (The Maneater of Hydra) – is in some ways not only a better film than Paul Morrissey's subsequent Flesh for Frankenstein but just as much a black comedy in which the American ballyhoo tagline "Only the monster she made could satisfy her strange desires" is not that far off. It is as much a pastiche of visual and narrative elements as diverse as Hammer – particularly Frankenstein Created Woman – and even Frankenstein's Daughter and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daugther in which children or descendants of the baron revive his experiments and ultimately turn them towards self-interest or outright evil. Indeed, Cotten's baron is presented as arrogant ("Here on Earth, man is God") and out to show up those in the academic community who laughed at his ideas, but he tells Tania that he plans to share his discoveries freely. Tania, on the other hand, seems to have been warped as much by her obsession since childhood with her father's work as much as the treatment she endured as a woman studying science, is more concerned with her father's reputation than innocent lives, uses Charles' desire for her to commit murder, and even begs him to consider the possibilities for money and fame if they catch the creature alive; and both underestimate the cunning and intelligence of the common man be it Lynch, Harris, or Thomas' inquisitive sister Julia (A Black Veil for Lisa's Renate Kaschι). Charles' fear of what trouble Lynch could cause or whether Harris suspects their involvement in the killings is not a weakness but part of his basic human decency, which is also demonstrated in his concern for the what the effect the damaged brain may have on the creature (he is the one who actually gets to utter the line "It's alive, it's alive!") but also others who will get hurt or killed while Tania pores over her father's work in search of a solution. The investigation of Harris is as incidental as the appearance by Thomas' sister, but what actually seems tacked onto the narrative is part of the film's reason for being: the attack scenes of the monster, which almost seem like second unit work recklessly shot and looking like a zoom-happy American regional horror flick with a man in a monster mask. These bits are so devoid of atmosphere in contrast to the location work at the castle in Balsorano previously seen in this set in The Seventh Grave and the studio work (on sets that would be recycled for Flesh for Frankenstein with some repurposed effects by E.T. The Extra Terrestrial's Carlo Rambaldi including mechanical bats) as photographed by Antonio Margheriti's go-to cinematographer Riccardo Pallotini (The Virgin of Nuremberg). The score of Alessandro Alessandroni (The Devil's Nightmare) – as important a collaborator with Ennio Morricone as Bruno Nicolai – contributes a score that favors fuzz guitar over the gothic. The credits for the American version of the film cite Dick Randall (Slaughter High) with the film's story, and he would do his own Italian-produced softcore take on the Frankenstein story with Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks in 1974, while the theme of a Frankenstein creating a being for their own pleasure would get a lesbian twist from Jess Franco with the 1998 DTV film Lust for Frankenstein (known as "Lady Frankenstein" in Spain).


Shot in 1961 but not released until 1964, Monster of the Opera was primarily known in English territories through an entry in Phil Hardy's "The Encyclopedia of the Horror Movies" and its association with the other two Polselli Vampire films until an Italian-language bootleg cropped up on the collector's circuit. Until now, the only English-friendly version was the compromised French Artus Films' French DVD which combined a 35mm print transfer of the shorter French version and the video master of the longer Italian version to create a composite with optional English and French subtitle options (we have no idea about the source of the subsequent Italian DVD from Sinister Film). Severin Films' Region A-locked 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.66:1 widescreen transfer comes from a new 2K scan of the original camera negative and is a massive improvement on the combination of contrasty French theatrical print and blurry Italian video inserts, looking every bit as slick as Polselli's more "gothic" The Vampire and the Ballerina (the film was shot by Polselli's regular DP Ugo Brunelli and one cannot help but wonder how the film would have been visualized in color given the revolving color gels of The Reincarnation of Isabel). The interiors boast an excellent range of black shadows and white highlights while the few exteriors are slightly inferior, suggesting that the production did not have sufficient light to fill the shadows of the day-for-night shots.

Also unreleased in the United States, The Seventh Grave was only available on the grey market via blurry television recordings from Italian hinterland stations in which blacks were gray and faces were washed out in the highlights. Mastered from a 2K scan of the original camera negative, The Seventh Grave's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.66:1 widescreen Blu-ray is not entirely free of damage at the reel changes but blows everything that came before it out of the water. Blacks are deep but shadow detail is such that previously obliterated textures and menacing shapes are now evident in the background during some of those corridor walks while the overlit photography ensures that fine detail is such that the art direction augmenting the authentic locations looks as cheap as some of the foundation make-up on the older actors.

Released theatrically in the United States as Scream of the Demon Lover by New World Pictures in a two versions running twenty-minutes shorter – a seventy-eight minute verison with nudity and a seventy-five minute version without for drive-in screens that faced the highway – in a double bill with The Velvet Vampire, the film turned up uncut on VHS through Wizard Video as "Blood Castle" from a European master while the aforementioned shorter version was released by Charter Home Entertainment under the "Scream of the Demon Lover" title. The uncut version turned up on the gray market with the U.S. title (and may have been a composite of the two sources) and as an iffy-quality, non-anamorphic letterboxed transfer on DVD from Retromedia. An official DVD release in Germany utilized a superior-looking fullscreen transfer of the Italian version which was also used in Spain for an edition of uncertain legality. Like the former edition, X-Rated Kult Video's region free Blu-ray release from a newer 1.66:1 HD master only featured Italian and German dubs unlike the disc's co-feature Orloff and the Invisible Man (under the Canadian relase title "The Secret Love Life of the Invisible Man" which included the English dub. Severin Films' 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray bearing the export title "The Killers of the Castle of Blood" is sourced from a 2K restoration of a 16mm single-strand negative – a definite surprise since it has always seemed like a 35mm film subject to the degradation of old video transfers – but the new transfer is extremely grainy in keeping with the German transfer. The image is brighter, however, and colors are richer (highlighting the use of some blue gel lighting less evident before). The 1.85:1 image features slightly less vertical information than the 1.66:1 German master; however, the 1.66:1 version reveals itself to be cropped on the sides by the side mattes while the 1.85:1 transfer reveals more information (could the earlier transfer have come from a 35mm blow-up element?) Some of the softer shots in high definition reveal that the focus is simply off such as a medium shot of Ivanna and Olga struggling over her bag in which both look soft until they both pop into sharp focus suggesting that they were both off their marks at the start of the shot. A few zoom-in shots similarly go soft as depth of field decreases and focus is not adjusted to keep a face in focus. There are two or three vertical frame tears that had been physically repaired at some point but presumably these could not be digitally painted out without compromising the image.

Released theatrically in the United States by Roger Corman's New World Pictures in a double-billing-friendly eighty-four minute version and in the UK by Scotia Barber in that version with additional cuts, Lady Frankenstein was most accessible through Embassy Entertainment's fullscreen VHS. Unauthorized digitized copies of that transfer made the rounds on public domain DVD from the likes of Brentwood while review site DVD Drive-in put out their own (and only) special edition DVD featuring a 16mm transfer matted to widescreen featuring short interviews with Welles and Neri, along with Italian VHS-sourced scenes from the longer version as an extra. Concurrently making the gray market rounds were fair-to-poor copies of a Swedish VHS release that was fairly complete and in English, and more recently a letterboxed German broadcast that was longer but not quite uncut (along with more complete DVD-R composites). When Scream Factory released the film on DVD as part of their two-disc, four-film horror pack with The Velvet Vampire, Grotesque, and Time Walker, Lady Frankenstein turned out to be an anamorphic transfer of the New World cut with a branching option for the longer version utilizing VHS sources of varying quality.

In the U.K., Nucleus Films gave the film its Blu-ray debut as the third volume of their European Cult Cinema Collection in 2018 featuring a new 2K scan from the uncut original camera negatives with a roster of extras including a reconstruction of the New World cut of the film. A three-disc limited edition followed in Germany the same year featuring the same master and several of its own extras. In 2022, Le chat qui fume in France put out their own limited edition featuring pared-down extras but including the CD soundtrack. Severin Film's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.85:1 widescreen Blu-ray comes from the same 2K scan clearing away the murk while making more blatant the difference between location and studio work is as texturally apparent as Rambaldi's prosthetics are with their live counterparts, and the restored 1.85:1 framing is far more elegant than the sometimes harsh lighting (although that is the fault of Pallotini's approach to the gothic as evidenced in his Margheriti productions). All of the bits missing from the Corman cut are beautifully rendered here with no evidence of damage throughout the presentation. The only difference between the Severin and Nucleus transfers are the title sequences with Nucleus using the superior-quality Italian credits that came with the Italian master while Severin use the New World English credits in which the grading also looks different from the otherwise identical colors and lighting levels of the two transfers.


Never dubbed into English, Monster of the Opera sports only an Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track. The post-dubbed dialogue is always clear and the music and effects are free of any distracting damage, the better to appreciate the usual barnstorming cues of Aldo Piga (Terror-Creatures from the Grave). Optional English subtitles are free of errors.

The Seventh Grave was never dubbed into English and only includes an Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track that sounds much cleaner than the old TV-sourced bootlegs, free of hiss, with clean post-dubbed dialogue and giving the cloying score that much more umph. Optional English subtitles are free of errors.

Scream of the Demon Lover includes English and Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono tracks with the Italian sounding slightly cleaner but the English more than adequate without any distracting digital clean-up artefacts. Unfortunately, only an English SDH subtitle track is included so it is hard to tell if the Italian dub differs (more interestingly would be a translation of the Spanish dub to see if some of the dialogue was toned down).

Lady Frankenstein also includes English and Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono dubs but also English SDH and English subtitles for the Italian track. Both tracks sound similar to the U.K. disc, cleaner than the earlier video transfers with the stings of Alessandroni's score sounding bolder than the sound design. The subtitles reveal that the English dub is actually superior in scripting if not always in delivery (when Harris finds Lynch dead, he says "you cheated me" on the English track while the Italian has him say "you fooled me"). The English dub specifies no specific location while the English subtitles give the currency Lynch demands in British pounds.


Monster of the Opera is accompanied by an audio commentary by author of "Daughters Of Darkness" Kat Ellinger who notes that the film was shot in 1961 at the height of the Italian Gothic but not released until 1964 when the genre was on the wane (particularly the vampire sub-genre). Ellinger discusses the film not only in the context of the Italian gothic – more female-centered and Jungian than the British and American Freudian Gothics – tropes like the double and sexual perversion, but also in the context of Polselli's carreer, noting not only his thematic interest in fear and mass hysteria but also music and dance (describing him as the "Bob Fosse of Italian Gothic horror").

In "Terror at the Opera" (30:30), screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi recalls the lean years after graduating from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia and that schoolmate Tina Gloriani (Violent Summer) introduced him to fiancι Polselli who commissioned a couple scripts from him that went unproduced until The Vampire and the Ballerinia. He also reveals that he only contributed to the second draft of Monster of the Opera which was written by Giuseppe Pellegrini by which time he became involved with producer Luciano Martino and his brother Sergio Martino.

In "Capodimonte Gothic" (14:22), Italian film devotee Mark Thompson-Ashworth – who did not work with Polselli but socialized with him at the house of Lucio Fulci's daughter Antonella before the director's death – makes the case for Polselli as an auteur of kitsch, even noting the films of certain contemporaries as being "Polsellian" like Massimo Pupillo's Bloody Pit of Horror and Luigi Batzella's Nude for Satan.

"Radio Polselli" (21:30) is an archival audio interview with director Polselli that sheds some light on his non-horror productions – including titles not documented because of quota credits between Italian and Spanish producers like the western The Sheriff Won't Shoot credited to Josι Luis Monter and his first collaboration with actor Mickey Hargitay who would appear in his later films The Reincarnation of Isabel and Delirium – his two vampire films, working with comic Franco Franchi, and some of his less-circulated comedies, and his "Ralph Brown" pseudonym for his erotic films.

The disc also includes the French theatrical trailer (2:29).

The Seventh Grave starts off with an audio commentary by film critic and co-host of "Fragments Of Fear" Rachael Nisbet in which she concedes that this "gothic thriller hybrid" is not well-regarded, partially due to the three week shoot, its rudimentary lighting and photography, serviceable performances, its usage of Gothic elements, and the idiosyncrasies of the rendering of setting in both dialogue and signage. She also delves into the identities behind the Anglicized pseudonyms of the credits, noting that actor Casale also served as co-writer and assistant director under names different from the one he adapted for his cast credit, and citing the sources for identifying director "Finney Cliff" as Garibaldi Serra Caracciolo .

In "Seven Graves and a Mystery" (12:52), film historian Fabio Melelli also delves into the mystery of Caracciolo, noting that before his daughter shed light on his identity, it was assumed "Finney Cliff" was writer Giorgio Stegani (Summertime Killer) and discussing Caracciolo's career as an assistant during the Salς years and his continued adherence to fascist dogma throughout his career which was cut short when he died just two years after making The Seventh Grave. Of the film, he discusses the various cost-cutting moves of the production and describes the cast of mainly extras and character actors as the "reserve of the genre" apart from Casale and Dominici who went on to become an important Italian dubbing artist.

In "English Aesthetic with Giallo Blood" (14:43), Gothic scholar and author Rachel Knightley discusses the film's hybridizing of "mannered murder mystery" and giallo proto-slasher, and how the English aesthetic hinders rather than liberates the other elements (while also noting that the combination of elements played better in the photo novel than onscreen). She cites Roberto Curti who suggests that the film resulted from too many viewings of the Paul Leni version of The Cat and the Canary and notes the constant violation of the 180 degree rule.

Scream of the Demon Lover is accompanied by an audio commentary by film historian and co-host of NaschyCast Rod Barnett and writer and editor of "I'm in a Jess Franco State of Mind" Robert Monell who discuss the Brontλ connections – with Monell describing the baron as more of a Heathcliff than Rochester – the agency of the heroine as indicative of both social changes during the period of the film and the film's production in the seventies, the differences between the cuts, noting that the Spanish title "Ivanna" places her as the focal character of the film – indeed, things go happen outside her perspective but we do not often have explanations for them until she discovers them – and comparing the kink and perversion in the Italian gothics to that of the literary antecedents.

In "Scream Erna Scream!" (19:18), actress Schurer recalls the film as coming soon after the "scandal" of Alberto Cavallone's Le salamandre – in which she played a white photographer who seduced a black female model – although she had already worked with Merino on the war film The Battle of the Last Panzer. She recalls the location, Merino's interest in seances, Quiney as a "mama's boy" who spoke to his mother during the seances, Belli appearing in the film so soon after her mother was murdered, and her discomfort not beacause of the film's nudity but due to her claustrophobia while being tied up. She also recalls that Roger Corman visited the set suggesting that he may have been involved more than just picking up the film for distribution.

"In the Castle of Blood" (38:59) is a video essay by author Stephen Thrower who puts Merino's two horror films in the context of his journeyman career that included westerns, action films, and Zorro films, as well as encompassing much of Quiney's short filmography. He suggests that the romantic element of the film may have disappointed fans expecting more in the way of horror and exploitation but also notes that Merino was an accomplished genre stylist on the basis of the two films and ponders why he did not make more horror films given the wide distribution of this and The Hanging Woman. Most interesting is his discussion of the killer's anti-sexual fetish of Ivanna's ice queen demeanor and the links between repression and sadomasochism.

The disc closes with the export trailer (2:53).

Lady Frankenstein ports over several of the Nucleus extras starting with the audio commentary by film writer Alan Jones and critic Kim Newman who cite the film as an uncredited adaptation of "For the Love of Frankenstein" by Bill Warren (published in VAMPIRELLA magazine) as pointed out by Donald F. Glut, and the rumor that Warren was paid afterward not to bring suit. They discuss Frankenstein on film, the Hammer antecedents and other Frankenstein films of the seventies, noting that the trend may have been sparked by actual stories of breakthroughs in organ transplants (with the film's portraying the scientists as being ahead of their time rather than bounded by now outdated beliefs), as well as the film being a forerunner for Flesh for Frankenstein. It is a typically lively talk with the two, who also point out not only the differences between the original cut and the Corman cut, but the effect of the deletions on the story, while also amusingly noting how the film's final shot sums up the film's central theme. They also reveal that Welles had initially been presented with a script for "Lady Dracula" but that the producers did not own the rights to it which belonged to actor Brad Harris who eventually made it as a German sex comedy.

New to this edition is an audio commentary by author of "Daughters Of Darkness" Kat Ellinger and film scholar and host of "Girls, Guts, Giallo" Annie Rose Malamet who discuss the Italian Gothic as the "pervier cousin" of British and American Gothic, its sadomasochistic and psychosexual elements – noting that those elements of the British literary antecedents like "The Monk" did not carry over to that country's cinematic takes – how the Italian Gothic focused more on made-up literary sources rather than the big literary monsters (apart from the works of Paul Naschy which were inspired by his love of Universal), Welles' ambitions for the film which also aimed more towards Universal, how Neri became involved in the production through producer/unwelcome admirer Harry Cushing, and their assertion that is returns author Mary Shelley and her existential and psychosexual concerns to the forefront of the source after the likes of Universal and Hammer distanced her from it by focusing on the men and the monsters.

New to this edition is an audio commentary by author of "Daughters Of Darkness" Kat Ellinger and film scholar and host of "Girls, Guts, Giallo" Annie Rose Malamet who discuss the Italian Gothic as the "pervier cousin" of British and American Gothic, its sadomasochistic and psychosexual elements – noting that those elements of the British literary antecedents like "The Monk" did not carry over to that country's cinematic takes – how the Italian Gothic focused more on made-up literary sources rather than the big literary monsters (apart from the works of Paul Naschy which were inspired by his love of Universal), Welles' ambitions for the film which also aimed more towards Universal, how Neri became involved in the production through producer/unwelcome admirer Harry Cushing, and their assertion that is returns author Mary Shelley and her existential and psychosexual concerns to the forefront of the source after the likes of Universal and Hammer distanced her from it by focusing on the men and the monsters.

Ported from the German and French releases is the interview "Meet the Baroness" (21:48) in which Neri recalls little about the film itself but has warm recollections of Cotten, Welles, and Muller while film historian Fabio Melelli provides background on Welles career with Corman and his European work.

From the U.K. disc comes "Piecing Together Lady Frankenstein" (35:18) in which critic Julian Grainger offers up a more concise and focused overview of the origins of the film, its production, cast, and Corman's cutting – noting that Corman came in with additional funding when Welles original deal with Heritage fell through – while Welles appears in different archival interview footage discussing his casting based on who could speak English (and noting as a dubbing director and performer that he eventually let some performers speak Italian since their rhythms in English were wrong for post-synching), as well as making points about his views on capital punishment and that the film is pro-feminist. Grainger also notes that Cushing was also behind Neri headlining the giallo Smile Before Death from Amuck's Silvio Amadio).

Also ported over is "The Lady and the Orgy" (8:08) a 2017 piece on director Welles move to Australia shortly after completion of Lady Frankenstein and his attempt to distribute it as part of a Spook Show titled "Orgy of Evil" showcasing Grand Guignol-esque magic acts, choreography, and music; and how it's premiere delayed by national power cuts and sunk by protest from religious groups.

"The Truth About Lady Frankenstein: A Factual Report" (43:57) is a 2007 German TV special that is a testament to the film's popularity in Germany, featuring on-camera interviews with director Welles, and actors Fux and Neri. Welles reveals that he was approached by associate producer Cushing with a script titled "Lady Dracula" and given creative freedom and funding to do it so long as Neri starred. Welles rented the De Paolis studio space and started work only to discover that Cushing did not own the rights to the script so Welles teamed up with The Idolmaker's Edward Di Lorenzo and wrote Lady Frankenstein. While Welles covers the production and reception, Neri discusses the film in the context of her work (and her embracing her horror films later as she realized they had fans), and Fux also speaks of his experiences on this and other B-movies (noting his preference for such formulaic horror over more realism-based genre works).

A prefatory note for the clothed scenes alternate clothed insert shots (2:56) tells us they know of no version in which these bits were actually utilized whether in more censorious territories or in television versions while the "BBFC Film Cuts" featurette (2:52) does not show the scenes as cut but excerpts the uncut scenes with text from the BBFC's notes about the reasons for the cutting, including the combinations of sex and violence in two scenes and the hacking off of an arm.

The Bigfilm Magazine: 1975 "Lady Frankenstein" photo novel (2:38) reveals that much of what is seen appears to be what was filmed apart from a sequence with Fux and a nude partner that looks like it starts out as a rape scene (in the final cut, the monster burst in on them already in bed).

The Italian opening credits (2:41) are what was used on the feature presentation of the U.K. Blu-ray (and presumably the French and German discs) here cosigned to the extras.

Also ported over are the extensive image gallery (5:38), the home video gallery (1:07), 60-second and 30-second radio spots (1:33), the TV spot (0:27), and the English Export and U.S. Theatrical Trailers (5:44) while the Italian and German trailers have been dropped.


The set consists of four black keep cases packaged in a handsomely-illustrated cardboard box not unlike their recent Violent Streets: The Umberto Lenzi/Tomas Milian Collection set.


Eurocult fans hoping that Arrow Video would follow up their recent Gothic Fantastico: Four Italian Tales of Terror with a second volume have their wishes granted with this Severin set with the promising subtitles "Volume One" and "The Italian Gothic Collection" suggesting that subsequent volumes may explore other Italian (and/or Spanish) horror genres.


Rewind DVDCompare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it and amazon.es . As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.