Reviewer: rkellner Review Date: October 3, 2016 Released by: Severin Films Release date: 08/15/2015 MSRP: $29.98 Region A Progressive Scan Codec: AVC, 1080p Widescreen 1.78:1 1965 “I’ve summoned them from their graves, and now I am among them.” Included as a bonus feature on Severin’s excellent Nightmare Castle blu ray, we have Terror Creatures From the Grave, another staring vehicle for Barbara Steele. Once again keeping the Italian gothic horror picture motif, we are wisely treated to the US Theatrical cut, which for once is the most desirable version of the movie due to added gore scenes not present in the original Italian version. However, does the movie hold up to the rest of the black and white Italian horror output of the time, or is this just a B-movie quickie? The Story After a man is brutally mangled while trying to saddle a horse, a mysterious letter arrives to attorney Albert Kovac (played by Walter Brandi who would also show up in The Vampire and the Ballerina, The Playgirls and the Vampire, Slaughter of the Vampires, and Bloody Pit of Vamp…err...Horror) to check over the will of a doctor named Jeronimus Hauff. He sets out to the residence of the deceased physician; however upon arriving at his residence, he finds out that the man in question has been dead for two days shy of a year. He now finds himself in the presence of the man’s wife (played by the seductive gothic horror icon Barbara Steele) and his daughter, Mirella Maravidi (who had a short film career with this as her only horror film entry). The residence in question is a nice homely place but it harbors a dark past. We come find out that thousands of those suffering from the plague were brought to here to die when it used to be a hospital. What’s more, its sinister days do not seem to be confined to the past. The local villagers speak ill of it and refuse to stay there past sunset. There are also rumblings around town that Jeronimus used the house to practice his black arts, which is confirmed by an ominous recording in Albert’s room of the dead man himself who claims to have not only made contact with dead spirits, but to possess a power over the former victims of the plague. Interestingly enough, that scene is fairly reminiscent of a key scene out of The Evil Dead. Despite all of the macabre happenings, Albert sees the opportunity to spend some quality time with the young daughter and the widow, especially when he learns that those who were present during the death of Jeronimus have started to end up dead as the anniversary of his passing approaches. And then there is that business of people hearing the creaking wheels of the Corpse Collectors… The movie gives the credit that it is “Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe,” but in my opinion, the story of a man of science who moves into an old hospital where thousands have died in hopes of conducting occult experiments in trying to contact the dead, and ultimately controlling them sounds more like the territory of HP Lovecraft to me, rather than Poe; however I can’t quite pinpoint where the alternate source material could have come from in the Lovecraftian cannon. What starts with a good classic gothic opening, devolves into a really, really talky movie as characters move from one conversation to another. Sadly, walking around town talking about ideas and characters is not what makes Italian Gothic films interesting, and this film drags because of it. The version here has some really out of place expositions where the main character thinks aloud which is jarring to the flow of the film. I would not be surprised if this was not in the original Italian version of this film. Originally released in Italy to decent success under the title 5 Tombe per un Medium (“Five Tombs for a Medium”), it had various versions for different global film markers. The US print that we have here adds in the Edgar Allan Poe credit (to a non-existent source material) as well as extra shots of gore for the blood thirsty American drive in crowd where it played as a double bill with the director’s other bombastically titled horror film, The Bloody Pit of Horror. The main antagonists here seem to be derived from the legend of the “monatti” who were said to dispose of the dead via push carts in the Middle Ages, as well as being attributed to the spread of the plague itself. The creeky sound that these wagon pushing spirits make may also be a tribute to the classic surreal silent horror film The Phantom Carriage from 1921, of which Criterion recently did a superior release. However, to cut to the heart of the matter, the greatest sin of this film is that for a movie entitled Terror Creatures from the Grave we get about 30 seconds worth of A HAND of one of the terror creatures from beyond the grave. The hook of the creaking wheels of corpse collectors is a novel and interesting one and may have resonated better with a population that knew of the folklore growing up, but it requires a payoff to properly channel that suspense into something worthwhile for a modern audience. In fact, by the end, you kind of wish the movie had a third act that was more visceral like the Spanish Blind Dead films. In fact, the addition of a couple decent gore set pieces such as a mutilated eyeball and a grotesque disembowelment involving pulsating intestines on the US print makes it more jarring and obvious that the makers of this film chose to skimp out on any payoff by the titular monster. All in all, this movie has all the right ideas, atmosphere, and buildup, but sadly has no intentions of showing you what it promises…TERROR CREATURES FROM THE GRAVE. Lame. Image Quality This print shows a decent amount of hair and debris at times but otherwise is a nice looking 2K scan of a US 35mm print in 1080p and 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image shows good depth, contrast, subtle grain and resolution. Overall it is a pleasing presentation, and surely the nicest that this title will ever look. Just don’t expect anything up to Criterion’s standards. Sound This is a sufficient dubbed mono audio track for a 50 year old film at 192kpbs. Don’t expect any miracles here or crazy 11.2 surround sound tracks. That said, it gets the job done well, and shows off the soundtrack, vocals, and eerie theremin music well, but due to the wear of the print, shows some ragged areas near occasional reel changes, especially around minute 35 where it sounds like a beat up record. Supplemental Material There is a pristine DVD quality set of 14 minutes worth of deleted scenes in French including the alternate opening titles, Kovac getting the request to go to the residence of Hauff, Kovac driving to the villa, the maid cleaning his car, Kovac wandering around the house alone, and an alternate death scene of the gentleman in the wheelchair by hanging. There is also a lower quality US trailer. However the main extra on this release is a 26 minute conversation with director Massimo Pupillo, actor Riccardo Garrone, and Italian film historian Fabio Melelli that was tape recorded in 1993. This audio is in Italian but has English subtitles. They cover how some of the special effects were done, and some of the history between the director and producer. Final Thoughts While this is a nice and substantial extra to have on a blu ray disk, Terror Creatures from the Grave fails to leave much of an impact as a stand alone film. It has all of the right elements to make it a worthy part of the Italian gothic horror cycle, but its sum is less than its parts. Good for a rainy afternoon when you have exhausted everything else in your collection, but not much more. Rating Movie - C- Image Quality - B Sound - B- Supplements - B Technical Info. B&W Unrated 1 Disc Mono Subtitles Supplements Deleted scenes Trailer Conversation with director Massimo Pupillo, actor Riccardo Garrone, and Italian film historian Fabio Melelli.