(Il Castello Dalle Porte Di Fuoco, as the film is originally titled, should not be confused with Blood Castle made in 1972 or the other Blood Castle made another year later, nor of course with Castle of Blood.)
Ivanna Rakowsky (Erna Schürer) comes to a small town in Eastern Europe to work for Janos Dalmar (Carlos Quiney), the local Baron. The townsfolk are not pleased with their Baron. They believe he and his hounds are responsible for a series of murders of young women. It would sound a lot like the usual babbling of superstitious peasants, if not for the rather problematic fact that each of the young women had an affair with Janos before her demise.
When Ivanna arrives at the castle to take her new position as a chemist, she steps into a Gothic soap opera. Her employer is at times charming and soft, at other times abrasive, while the household's chief servant Olga (Cristiana Galloni) is homicidally jealous; the maid Cristiana (Agostina Belli) is also in love with the Baron.
Given this heated atmosphere, I wasn't at all surprised to learn that Ivanna is to help Janos continue his recently deceased brother's research into "matter regeneration". The baron seems to think that successful research could even be used to revive his brother, whose body rests in a bubbling fluid in the lab.
It does not take long for Ivanna to fall in love with the completely irresistible Janos, overlooking little problems like the murders, or the locked part of the castle nobody is allowed to enter, or that she spent her first night in the castle naked and bound to a rack while someone lovingly fondled her body and admonished her to stay pure.
What oh what might just be the secret of it all?
Blood Castle certainly isn't one of the better Italian Gothics (can I blame the Spanish influence into the production?). One problem is the pedestrian and terribly unoriginal script - although the last third of the film has some amusing Freudian elements; another one a direction seriously lacking in flair. Director Jose Luis Merino was one of those typical Spanish and Italian (he worked in both countries) filmmakers who had to dabble in each genre a little, without achieving much of artistic merit or entertainment value. Still, it is surprising to find a film taking just about every cliche there is in the Gothic handbook (and adding lots of mild nakedness), but stealing none of the genre's visual trademarks. Were the coloured lights and the fog machine broken?
Yet having said this, I must still admit I had a certain amount of fun watching Blood Castle. There was always another cliche to mark on the checklist, while the last third threw around some gloriously bad ideas a better director could have used to produce a more than decent film.