The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism (1967)

Recently viewed this little gem as “The Torture Chamber of Dr. sadism”. Originally released in the US and UK as “The Blood Demon”, while it’s German title was “Die Schlangengrube und Das Pendel”. An odd film that seemed to be a sort of German take on a mixture of Bava with one of Corman’s AIP Poe efforts.

Count Regula (Christopher Lee) is drawn and quartered for the death of 12 maidens, but swears his revenge. 35 years later a disparate group ends up at the Counts ruined castle. The 4 travelers are Baroness Lillian (Karin Dor of Bond fame), her maid Babette, Roger (Lex Barker, former Tarzan and a huge star in Germany) and the monk Fabian (a hilarious turn from Vladimir Medar). As it turns out, Roger and the Baroness are the descendants of the folks that originally put the Count to death and he wants revenge. The crazed servant Anatol lures them to the castle and reanimates the Count. The Poe elements then come into play as Roger faces a deadly pendulum and Lillian is faced with a pit full of snakes. Do they foil the reanimated Count or meet their doom? Check this fun film out to see for yourself!

I expected this to be a really bad film, but was very surprised to find that I enjoyed it tremendously. Christopher Lee’s performance is all menace, but with just a smattering of black humour to keep things moving. Lex Barker, more than a decade after playing Tarzan, looks great and is a perfect heroic figure. Karin Dor is lovely and does a fair bit of over the top shrieking, but still manages to give a convincing performance. This was a whole lot of fun! A bit of dark humour, Grimm’s fairytale mixed with a Mario Bava sensibility and a little Poe thrown in for good measure makes for a superior European horror flick. Hopefully a nicer print will turn up or a DVD release, as the Magnum Entertainment video that I viewed was murky, faded and very badly edited.