A previously lost sleaze masterpiece, chock-a-block with lesbianism, whippings, black magic and dubious dubbing. This is Italian gothic with huge dollops of seventies style. A man who seeks help for an injured woman at a gothic castle finds it inhabited with his and her "darker" halves.
Two strangers who wreck their cars on a rural highway during a storm take refuge in a mansion. A doctor (James Harris), who has left an unconscious woman, Susan (the striking Rita Calderoni), in his car walks in to discover depravities behind every door when Susan suddenly appears, dressed in a flowing gown and acting as if they were old friends. The next morning, Susan wakes up in his car and enters the mansion to find a leering aristocrat, his snaggle-toothed servant, and the doctor dressed as a count and acting like a decadent dilettante. It's as if the two exist in parallel universes, confronted with ghost versions of one another in a portal to the past controlled by a devilish hedonist. Director Luigi Batzella deftly combines the weirdly stylized horror and out-and-out exploitation (scenes of bondage, torture, unmotivated sex, and an orgy are sprinkled throughout) for a film dripping in eerie mood and nightmare imagery. The doppleganger story of split psyches doesn't always make sense, and a few clumsily executed scenes are laughably silly (a hoary papier mâché and pipe-cleaner spider is the worst offender), but the handsome production is unexpectedly compelling and unsettling.
The DVD offers both original Italian and dubbed English soundtracks, with optional subtitles. --Sean Axmaker