Πέμπτη, 27 Αυγούστου 2009

DANZA MACABRA (1964, ANTONIO MARGHERITI)


It's the Samhain and a young journalist meets up with Edgar Allan Poe in a London tavern and agrees to spend a night in a haunted castle from where no one comes out alive for a wager. True to its title, this is a macabre dance as the journalist staggers around the castle with a candelabra at hand and meets up with a variety of characters that may or may not be ghosts, including a seductive Barbara Steele in a nightgown, a creepy bearded Dr. Carmus whose name recalls Camus the writer but whose appearence has something of Ze Do Caixao/Coffin Joe, and a shirtless buff guy who seems to have wandered off a Maciste set. There's not much plot to speak of (in a script co-written by Sergio Corbucci no less, a director who'd go on to have a great career in the spaghetti western field, where Margheriti also dipped later in his career with AND GOD SAID TO CAIN) and whatever plot thereis is deliberately handled in the manner of a spooky story told at midnight around a campfire, the details intentionally vague and simplistic and with only a semblance of reality as is often the case with oral stories that pass from mouth to mouth for and have to be easy to tell and remember for that reason. I like movies where characters wander through weird/surreal/eerie architecture (MARIENBAD, THE TRIAL) except DANZA MACABRA sabotages that hypnotic quality with goofy shenanigans such as candelabras being knocked over to the sound of cymbals and the character tripping over stairs. Whatever the movie has going for it comes from those very qualities that mark it as an Italian gothic horror film. The eerie dreamlike atmosphere and b/w cinematography capturing images of cobweb-strewn catacombs and skulls. Passable but not a patch on BLACK SUNDAY.

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