Castle of Evil (1966)

This one is strange.

The basic description looks very familiar:  a millionaire’s friends and associates gather on a secluded island for the reading of his will.  They have to stay overnight in the Castle to find out what they’ve won, but someone — or something — is trying to kill them off one by one.

But we know something is wrong when we learn that the sinister millionaire’s beautiful but murderous aide has a sophisticated closed circuit TV system — and a convenient gas chamber for stripping the flesh off any inconvenient bodies.

However, it then goes completely off the rails in an unexpected and science fictional way, turning the story we thought we were watching on its ear.  I suppose you can still call it revenge from beyond the grave, but not the way you think that means.  And, of course, when they find a death ray or laser of some sort in a secret laboratory, there is no real doubt in anyone’s mind how it’s going to get used.

I’m tempted to spoil this one, but if I did, you would have no real reason for watching this thing.

But then, I suppose you really don’t have one anyway.

This one is more routine than thrilling — and surprisingly tame, with a ridiculously low body count.  However, what it does have is an impressive collection of talented second string and washed out actors, with Scott Brady (who appeared in four other Sixties SF films, lots of action and horror films, and countless TV shows) in the lead, Virginia Mayo as the goodtime girl with the requisite heart of gold, and Fifties SF star Hugh Marlowe, looking a bit grayer, but otherwise up to par.  They all seem to have been enjoying themselves, and they manage to bring just a little bit of life to an otherwise mild film.  It’s not a bad midnight film and quite amiable in its own way.

However, it just doesn’t measure up to the Michael Crichton film a decade later which had a similar gimmick, or to the James Cameron film from the Eighties it brings to mind.

But then, very few films do.  So perhaps we should forgive it, and accept it for what it is, a minor time waster trying just a little too hard to be original.

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