Castle of Blood

Castle of Blood (Italian: Danza Macabra) is a 1964 horror film directed by Antonio Margheriti and Sergio Corbucci. The film stars Barbara Steele, Arturo Dominici and Georges Rivière. The film was initially commissioned to director Sergio Corbucci who had Gianni Grimaldi and Bruno Corbucci set to write the film. A scheduling conflict led to Corbucci's friend Margheriti being hired to complete the film. To avoid going overtime, Corbucci was brought in to film one scene.

Castle of Blood
Italian theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
  • Franco Belotti
  • Walter Zarghetta[1]
Screenplay by
Music byRiz Ortolani[1]
CinematographyRiccardo Pallottini[1]
Edited byOtello Colangeli[1]
  • Era Cinematografica
  • Leo Lax Films[1]
Distributed byGlobe International Film
Release date
  • February 27, 1964 (1964-02-27) (Italy)
  • April 14, 1965 (1965-04-14) (France)
Running time
82 minutes
  • Italy
  • France[1]
Box office₤100.68 million

The film was released in Italy in 1964 and received low box office numbers which led to Margheriti remaking the film in colour as Web of the Spider (1970).


A journalist challenges the authenticity of Edgar Allan Poe's stories (which are presented in the context of the film as Poe's eyewitness accounts of the supernatural, not as literary fiction). To prove himself, the journalist accepts a bet from Lord Blackwood to spend the night in a haunted castle on All Soul's Eve. Ghosts of the murdered inhabitants appear to him throughout the night, re-enacting the events that led to their deaths. One of the ghosts reveals that they all need his blood in order to maintain their existence. Barbara Steele plays a ghost who attempts to help the journalist escape.



The idea for Castle of Blood came to Sergio Corbucci when producer Giovanni Addessi commissioned him to create a film that would reuse the Medieval sets from Corbucci's comedy film The Monk of Monza.[1] Corbucci had his brother Bruno Corbucci and screenwriter Gianni Grimaldi write the script.[1] The script is credited to a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, but the film is not based on any specific Poe work.[2] According to Ruggero Deodato, who was the assistant director on set, he persuaded actress Barbara Steele to star in the film,[1] although Steele had just done for director Federico Fellini, and wanted to distance herself from horror films.[1] When filming was about to begin, Sergio Corbucci found that his schedule conflicted with the shoot and called upon his friend Antonio Margheriti to direct the film.[1]

Margheriti had a tight schedule for filming, and shot the film using the same method as a television production by setting up four cameras at once.[1] To finish the film on time, Margheriti brought in Sergio Corbucci to direct the scene where Giovanni Cingriglia's characters murders Steele's character.[1][2] The film was eventually shot in 15 days.[3]


Castle of Blood was distributed in Italy by Globe International Film and released on February 27, 1964.[1] The film grossed a total of 100.68 million Italian lire in Italy.[1] It was released in France on April 14, 1965 under the title "Danse Macabre" (Dance of Death).[4] The French cut of the film features actress Sylvia Sorrente in a nude scene.[5]

The film's disappointing box office was one of the reasons that Margheriti remade the film as Web of the Spider in colour in 1970.[6] Margheriti would later comment that it was "stupid to remake it" and that "the color cinematography destroyed everything: the atmosphere, the tension."[6]

Critical reception

From contemporary reviews, The Globe and Mail praised the film, noting an "ingenious script" and the acting by Georges Rivière, stating that the film was an "example of how an imaginative director can use camera, music, and a deliberately slow pace to fray the nerve ends."[7] The review critiqued the ghost special effects as "unconvincing", and found Barbara Steele's performance to be melodramatic.[7] The Monthly Film Bulletin praised the cinematography of the film but referred to Ortolani's score as "cliche-ridden", and wrote negatively about Steele's acting and the dubbed dialogue.[8]

Margheriti would later call the film "even more boring" many years after its initial release.[1] AllMovie's review of the film was favorable, calling it an "eerie and effective early horror film."[9]



  1. Curti 2015, p. 109.
  2. Curti 2015, p. 110.
  3. Shipka 2011, p. 42.
  4. "Danza macabra" (in French). Retrieved August 3, 2015.
  5. Curti 2015, p. 112.
  6. Curti 2015, p. 114.
  7. Morriss, Frank (September 10, 1964). "Castle of Blood Fraying To Nerves". The Globe and Mail. p. 11.
  8. "Castle of Blood "(La Danza Macabra)"". Monthly Film Bulletin. London. 34 (396): 139. 1967. ISSN 0027-0407.
  9. Robert Firsching. "Castle of Blood (1964)". Allmovie. Retrieved 30 June 2012.


  • Curti, Roberto (2015). Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957-1969. McFarland. ISBN 1476619891.
  • Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano - The Complete Guide From Classics To Cult. London - New York: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-608-0.
  • Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960–1980. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4888-3.

See also

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