Nightmare Castle (1965)

NightmareCastlePosterDr. Arrowsmith is one of those mad scientists who is always running off to some convention or other, leaving his sexy wife at home with the hunky handyman. I’m pretty sure his wife held out as long as possible before having an affair with this dude (just until after she heard the carriage take off, I’d wager), but a sexy gal has needs that a scientist obsessed with inventing a rejuvenation formula for his girlfriend is too busy to satiate!

Dr. Arrowsmith is halfway to the Mad Scientist Convention when he realizes that he left his paper, “On the Benefits of a Young Virgin’s Blood For Rejuvenating Beauty-Impaired Hags,” in his greenhouse. He gets an eyeful when he runs into his wife and the gardener and he can’t tell where she ends and he begins.

Mad Scientist quickly becomes Insanely Jealous Mad Scientist! Next stop for these two faithless dogs is the secret torture room that the doc keeps on standby for just such an event.

Later, we see the doctor at work in his secret lab where he drains out some of their blood and I guess we were supposed to understand that his girlfriend would be using it to stop the aging process.

At this point during the movie, I had lined out two horror gimmicks the movie was going to be using: murdered lover’s ghosts taking revenge on their killer and blood used to revive someone’s decaying looks. But that wasn’t all that was going to be happening. In spite of the terminal boredom you’ll experience upon viewing Nightmare Castle, several different story elements are trotted out in an effort to get things moving. And none of it works.

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When Arrowsmith’s wife was being tortured she pulled the old laughing in his face bit about his inheritance. She had a sneaking suspicion that he would react unfavorably to her heating up the greenhouse with the help, so she changed her will so that her crazy sister would get everything in the event of her torture-related death!

Dr. Arrowsmith hears this and immediately formulates a foolproof (with emphasis on fool) plan to get his hands on the inheritance anyway.

This is where the movie finally comes in with its “torment the crazy wife into going more crazy” element that the movie had been promising. The doctor’s plan seemed to be full of, um, optimism, as it were. You see, I think it was pretty optimistic of him to think that no one would ever ask him what happened to his wife and the gardener with the rippling abs.

It was also optimistic of him to think that he could just roll on up to the asylum where the crazy sister (Barbara Steele who also played the other sister) was staying and immediately marry her (“I don’t know what happened to your sister. Do you want to marry me?”), even though they didn’t know each other and she was so crazy that she needed to be locked up.

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Once he got married to the crazy broad his plan was to either kill her or drive her even more crazy so that the titular castle would be his to share with his old, nasty girlfriend.

Doesn’t anyone think that it would be suspicious that this dude was married to first one sister, than another and somehow these two young women would just up and die leaving him with all the goodies?

Initially the doctor and his honey try to drug the new wife to drive her crazy, but there’s a screw up and they don’t get her drugged. Luckily, she’s crazy anyway and starts seeing and hearing things. Unluckily, she’s hearing and seeing the murders of her sister and her lover!

In a fit of abject stupidity, Dr. Arrowsmith calls in a doctor to hang out and look after his new wife. This new doctor soon becomes a thorn in everyone’s side when he starts to believe everything that this crazy chick is telling him!

This leads to the single funny scene in the movie where Arrowsmith rigs up a bathtub to electrocute the doctor by running wires out second story windows and into windows on the ground floor. Then he sits in an adjoining room waiting to hear the dude get into the tub so that he can throw the switch. Well, he hears someone mucking around in the tub and throws the switch, but somehow it’s the butler that ends up fried!

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Director Mario Caiano (Ulysses Against the Son of Hercules) tried everything in this one and failed over and over. All the various plot points were ill-conceived, boring, or just plain didn’t make any sense.

The worst part of all this was the villain, Dr. Arrowsmith. He never seemed to really care one way or another about anything that happened (frying the butler simply elicited one of those shoulder shrugging looks) and he didn’t seem that bent on getting rid of the new wife very fast.

I also didn’t understand the relationship that he and his girlfriend had. Why were they together? What exactly was her problem with needing blood to stop her aging? Why didn’t she just use Oil of Olay?

Nightmare Castle is such a bad dream that even the vengeful ghosts could barely be roused to show interest most of the the time!

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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