The Whip and the Body (1963)

the whip and the bodyA wild little Italian chiller from the early 60s directed by Mario Bava, The Whip and the Body has ghosts, insanity, aristocratic incest, and the wonderful color and style that’s always a trademark of the maestro’s horror works. Some Mario Bava fans consider this to be one of his best, and it’s certainly a contender with its effectively stylish pulp ghost mystery, but, Black Sunday is “the” quintessential film for anyone who wants to know more about the films of Mario Bava.

The always awesome Christopher Lee of Hammer horror fame, stars as Kurt, an errant, outcast son who returns to his family mansion, much to the chagrin of everyone there. Before long, he turns up dead but his ghost continues to cause trouble. Kurt’s brother Christian has married Kurt’s former lover Novenka, but secretly loves a beautiful servant girl. An older servant woman blames Kurt for the death of her daughter, and has saved the murder weapon a dagger in a glass case, hoping to use it again in the same way. Kurt’s father doesn’t think too highly of his son either. So everyone’s a suspect, but as usual Bava is more interested in using his trademark gloomy colors to establish a mood and an atmosphere than he is creating suspense or logic. The film dabbles in sadistic eroticism as Kurt lashes his former lover Novenka with a whip and she appears to like it.the whip and body 2

This is a good flick that shows all of Bavas trademark atmospheric use of color and strange plots. The seaside castle setting is used wonderfully, and there is some great 60s Italian eye candy here, though I can’t help thinking it would have blown the top off the awesome meter if Barbara Steele had played Chris’s lover instead of the lovely but less mesmerizing Daliah Lavi.

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