Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (1974)

Known in Italy as Terror! Il Castello Delle Donne Maledette (Terror! The Castle of Cursed Women), this movie was released as Terror Castle, The House of Freaks, The Monsters of Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks in the U.S., while it was named Frankenstein’s Castle in the UK.

According to Roberto Curti’s Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1970–1979, no one can even agree on who the director of this movie is.

Suspects include Spanish actor Ramiro Oliveros (The Pyjama Girl Case), producer Oscar Brazzi (The Loves of Daphne), cinematographer Mario Mancini (who ran camera on Blood and Black Lace, as well as acting as the director of photography for The Girl In Room 2A and directing Frankenstein ’80), producer Dick Randall (who produced Mario Bava’s Four Times That Night, as well as For Your Height OnlyDon’t Open ‘Till Christmas and Slaughter High) and screenwriter William Rose (who wrote Pamela, Pamela, You Are… and shows up in the film as the Devil and in Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo).

Although director Robert H. Oliver was a pseudonym of Mancini, actor Gordon Mitchell claims that the director was Robert Oliver, while actress Simone Blondell remembered that the director “spoke English, he wasn’t Italian.” Perhaps the best answer comes from assistant director Gianlorenzo Battaglia (the cinematographer for A Blade In the Dark, BlastfighterDemonsWitchery and so many more films — he was also the underwater camera operator for Popeye, Cozi’s HerculesAlligatorScreamers and Phenomena!) said that “the American director left the film because of disagreements with the producer, and so Mario finished it on his own. I’m not 100% sure though!”

After a Neanderthal man named Goliath (Salvatore Baccaro, billed as Boris Lugosi) is lynched by villagers, Count Frankenstein (Rossano Brazzi, who was in Krakatoa, East of Java) brings the monster back to life.

Man, let me tell you about Rossano Brazzi. In 1940, he married Baroness Lidia Bertolini. They never had children, but he did have a son with Llewella Humphreys, who was the daughter of American mobster Murray “The Camel” Humphreys. At a young age, Llewella had shown fine musical talent, so her father sent her to Europe to study. After all, her father would do anything for her. There’s a story that when she went to the prom, she wanted to take Frank Sinatra. One phone call later and “Old Blue Eyes” was her date.

While in Rome, Llewella fell for Brazzi and they had that aforementioned son. When she returned to America, she changed her name to Luella Brady, an anglicization of Brazzi. Humphreys sent her and George, the baby, to live with her mother in Oklahoma, but she was so mentally unstable by this point that she was institutionalized. Man — her dad was the man who said, “If you ever have to cock a gun in a man’s face, kill him. If you walk away without killing him after doing that, he’ll kill you the next day,” taught mobsters how to plead the Fifth and inspired Tom Hagen in The Godfather and here’s the married Brazzi getting her pregnant!

After his wife’s death from liver cancer in 1984, Brazzi married Ilse Fischer, a German woman who had been the couple’s housekeeper for many years who had met the actor when she was a twenty-four-year-old fan.

But I digress…

Michael Dunn also shows up as Genz, an evil dwarf who indulges in necrophilia. Perhaps you know Dunn from Dr. Miguelito Loveless from The Wild Wild West or as Dr. Kiss in The Werewolf of Washington. Also invited to this Castle of Freaks party are Edmund Purdom (Pieces), Gordon Mitchell playing Igor (you may recall him as playing Dr. Otto Frankenstein in Frankenstein ’80), Loren Ewing (Big John from the Batman TV show as well as, get this, the transportation department for the movie Idaho Transfer), Walter Saxer (who would later produce Herzog’s films), Simonetta Vitelli (who was in four totally unrelated Sartana movies), Luciano Pigozzi (Pag from Yor Hunter from the Future) and Xiro Papas, who is, of course, Mosaic from Frankenstein ’80, the vampire monster from The Devil’s Wedding Night and Lupo in The Beast In Heat.

Somehow, all of this depravity got a PG rating.

This movie is not great, but gets many points for having 19th-century villagers wearing modern blue jeans.

Want to read more? You can check out our list of Edmund Purdom movies on Letterboxd because yeah — we’re just that crazy. And for more movies that were rated PG that don’t quite make sense, check out this list.

You can watch this on Tubi or the Internet Archive.

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