Release Date(s)1968 (February 23, 2021)
Studio(s)Aquila Film Enterprises (Severin Films)
- Film/Program Grade: D
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B-
- Extras Grade: C+
Castle of the Creeping Flesh has been released in different territories under a myriad of assorted titles with varying degrees of censorship. Sold to some as a straight gothic horror film and to others as a slice of softcore madness, the truth is that it’s somewhere in between. Shot in Austria, directed by Adrian Hover (Mark of the Devil), and made up of horror, shock, and titillating moments (without ruling out the possibility of intentional parody), it’s a bizarre film that can be as slow as much as scandalous. There are genuine items of unwholesome curiosity, including one of two rape scenes featuring a narration overlay that quotes lines from King Lear, as well as footage of actual heart surgery. The film is also colorful and shot well, and depending on which dub you’re watching it with, contains moments of laugh out loud absurdity. If that’s your bag, Castle of the Creeping Flesh is for you. Otherwise, it’s for deep-diving genre fans only.
The basic plot involves a group of people having a party, including the deceitful Baron Brack (Michel Lemoine) and his wife-to-be Marion (Claudia Butenuth), Marion’s brother George (Jan Hendriks), the flirty Elena (Elvira Berndorff) and her fiance Roger (Pier A. Caminnecci), and the sex-starved Vera (Janine Reynaud). When Marion disappears into the wilderness, they search for her on horseback and make their way to a remote castle, only to find themselves invited in by the mysterious Earl of Saxon (Howard Vernon). Unbeknownst to them, the Earl and his personal physician are performing secret surgeries in order to revive his long-dead daughter Katharina, whom Marion bears a striking, if not altogether convenient, resemblance to.
Castle of the Creeping Flesh comes to Blu-ray for the first time in the US from Severin Films. Presented here is the original, uncensored German version of the film, taken from a new scan of the interpositive. As explained in the extras, the original camera negative was damaged from “heavy usage and mechanical stress” due to the original distributor re-editing the film for its various releases. It’s an organic presentation with high levels of detail, though leftover scratching, speckling, and a few lines running through the frame remain. Grain levels are healthy and everything appears sharp outside of a dream sequence that intentionally uses heavy soft focus. The color palette offers a variety of hues, including reds, greens, and blues, though blacks are a tad too bright. It’s also a stable presentation with good contrast.
The audio is included in English and German 2.0 mono DTS-HD with optional subtitles: English for the English soundtrack and English SDH for the German soundtrack. The English track features mild hiss, crackle, and occasional thumps, but the dialogue and score are both potent in the mix. The German track has obvious hiss and a low flutter, but is much more narrow.
The following extras are also included, all in HD:
- Adrian in the Castle of Bloody Lust (19:55)
- Mark of the Devil (30:45)
- Return to the Castle of Bloody Lust (13:02)
- Castle of the Creeping Flesh Trailer (3:04)
- Im Schloss der blutigen Begierde Trailer (3:07)
- Appointment with Lust Trailer (3:06)
- Appointment with Lust Opening Credits (1:35)
- Im Schloss der blutigen Begierde Opening Credits (1:30)
- Castle of the Creeping Flesh Alternate Opening Credits Design (0:16)
- Textless Opening Credits (1:29)
- Alternate VHS End Sequence (1:36)
- Film Notes (1:00)
Adrian in the Castle of Bloody Lust features an interview with wife and son of Adrian Hoven, Joyce and Percy Hoven, in which they discuss the filmmaker and his work. Mark of the Devil features a Q&A session from the 2015 Australian Pulp Film Festival with Joyce and Percy Hoven, with Uwe Huber sitting in as a moderator. Return to the Castle of Bloody Lust is a location featurette, taking us on a tour of the Austrian filming locations with comparisons to the final film. Also included are three trailers for each version of the film, as well as three alternate opening credits sequences, and an alternate home video ending sequence. These extras (and high definition master) appear to have been sourced from the recent German Blu-ray release of the film, which also includes a few that haven’t been carried over: an introduction to the film by Joyce and Percy Hoven, a Flash Frame montage, and a photo gallery.
Castle of the Creeping Flesh is a genre mix-up with plenty going for it in terms of visuals and outrageous content, but in between are moments that are too slow to keep up a comfortable pace. Nonetheless, Severin Films brings this long out of print oddity to Blu-ray with a pleasing transfer and a fine set of extras.
- Tim Salmons