|Castle of the Living Dead|
Italian film poster for Castle of the Living Dead
|Directed by||Warren Kiefer|
|Produced by||Paul Maslansky|
|Screenplay by||Warren Kiefer|
|Story by||Warren Kiefer|
|Music by||Angelo Francesco Lavagnino|
|Edited by||Mario Serandrei|
|Distributed by||Cineriz (Italy)|
|Box office||₤103.5 million|
Castle of the Living Dead (Italian: Il castello dei morti vivi) is a 1964 horror film directed by Warren Kiefer. The film is set in France in the early 19th century after the Napoleonic wars where a traveling circus visits the castle of the Count Drago (Christopher Lee). Drago's habit of experimenting on animals is revealed and the visitors are about to become unwilling participants before they are rescued by a dwarf.
Since its release, a number of contradictory production histories concerning Castle of the Living Dead have surfaced, with the film's direction being variously attributed to Kiefer (who was credited with the alias "Lorenzo Sabatini" on Italian prints), Riccardo Freda, or Luciano Ricci (credited as "Herbert Wise"). Other mysteries include the extent of assistant director Michael Reeves' involvement in the production, and whether or not Mario Bava provided special effects for the film.
American Warren Kiefer moved to Italy to pursue a career in the film industry. There he met American-born producer Paul Maslansky at Cinecittà. The two got along and decided to make a film together. Kiefer provided the script for Castle of the Living Dead. The two put in $10,000 and contacted Christopher Lee for ten days of shooting.
Many sources cite Lorenzo Sabatini as the director of Castle of the Living Dead, but the name was created by Kiefer for tax reasons while creating the film. To complicate it further, the film was a French-Italian co-production, which meant that an Italian director was required to collect certain state subsidies. In the Italian version of the film, Kiefer is credited as only for the story and script while the name Herbert Wise was used as the director. Wise was a pseudonym for Luciano Ricci, Kiefer's assistant director. All other prints credit Kiefer as the sole director. Many promotional materials and reviews of the film since the release have credited various directors as the director including Ricci, the fictional Wise, and Riccardo Freda. Among the crew of Castle of the Living Dead was Michael Reeves. Paul Maslansky met Reeves previously on the set of The Long Ships (1964) and invited him to work on Castle of the Living Dead. Reeves is credited as an assistant director on the film, but rumours have spread since his premature death that he had done more on the film including that he had shot al the sequences at the Parco dei Mostri while others have said he took over the production nine days into shooting the film. Maslansky spoke in 1999 that the rumours of him directing the film were untrue and that he remained on second unit for the entire film. Kiefer's second unit director Frederick Muller that the film was entirely directed by Kiefer without Reeves presence. Kiefer also stated that Reeves had not had anything to do with the directing in the film.
The film was shot in five weeks at Castello Orsini-Odescalchi and Bomarzo in Italy. Kiefer estimated the budget as $135,000 while Paul Maslansky stated it was $125,000. To speed up the production, Kiefer and Maslansky set each room they were shooting in the castle in order so after one scene was filmed, the next room in the castle would be ready for the following scene.
In Tim Lucas' book Mario Bava, All the Colours of the Dark, an interview with Luciano Pigozzi states that Mario Bava created a special effect for the film involving a large sailing ship. There is no scene in the film involving boats and Lucas has assumed that this effect would show up when the film was shown at its proper aspect ratio or that the scene had been cut. Muller had later noted that he did not recall seeing Mario Bava on the set ever.
- Christopher Lee as Count Drago
- Gaia Germani as Laura
- Philippe Leroy as Eric
- Mirko Valentin as Sandro
- Donald Sutherland as Sgt. Paul / The witch / The old man
- Antonio De Martino as Nick
- Luciano Pigozzi as Dart
- Luigi Bonos as Marc
- Ennio Antonelli as Gianni
- Jacques Stany as Bruno
- Renato Terra Caizzi as Policeman
Castle of the Living Dead was released in Italy through distributor Cineriz on August 5, 1964. The film grossed a total of 103.5 million Italian lira on its theatrical run in Italy. The film was released in 1965 in the United States where it was distributed by The Woolner Brothers.
- Christopher Lee filmography
- Donald Sutherland filmography
- French films of 1964
- Italian films of 1964
- List of horror films of 1964
- Curti 2015, p. 114.
- Curti 2015, p. 115.
- Curti 2015, p. 116.
- Curti 2015, p. 117.
- Curti 2015, p. 118.
- "Castello dei orti vivi, Il (Castle of the Living Dead), Italy/France, 1964". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 35 no. 408. British Film Institute. 1968. p. 58.
- "Castle Of The Living Dead". TV Guide. Retrieved July 10, 2015.