Terror-Creatures from the Grave (Italy/USA, 1965)

Terror-Creatures from the Grave – original title: Cinque tombe per un medium “Five Graves for a Medium” – is a 1965 Italian/American supernatural horror film directed by Massimo Pupillo (Bloody Pit of Horror). The film stars Barbara Steele, Walter Brandi, and Mirella Maravidi. In the UK, it was released as Cemetery of the Living Dead.

Massimo Pupillo was apparently not satisfied with the final result of the film, and allowed the film’s American producer, Ralph Zucker, to take the director’s credit. Zucker also allegedly shot some of the more gruesome scenes that occur in the US version.

A lawyer arrives at Villa Hauff to settle the estate of its recently deceased owner. The owner’s wife and daughter reveal that he was someone who was able to summon the souls of ancient plague victims and, in fact, his spirit was roaming the castle at that very moment. Soon occupants of the castle begin to die off in gruesome, violent ways…

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Reviews:

” …a wonderfully grisly affair thanks to the plague spreaders backstory, the desolate village and Castello Chigi settings, the handsome monochrome cinematography was the work of Woody Allen’s later regular cinematographer Carlo Di Palma, and the special effects work.” Eric Cotenas, DVD Compare

“This movie has some nice moments; in particular, a bizarre shot of plants moving in a tank of water, and a shot of a row of severed hands coming to life stay in the memory. The ending itself is pretty good as well, and some of the murders are memorable. Unfortunately, the middle section of the movie feels protracted and tedious…” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

” …things only really hot up in the flashback to Hauff’s murder, when Pupillo treats us to weird close-ups of the conspirators’ insane laughter, after which Hauff’s clocks suddenly reanimate themselves and the eerie creaking of an invisible plague wagon announces the so-called “night of revenge”. The severed hands start flexing, the bottled organs begin to pulse, and the victims acquire nasty plague sores prior to slumping dead beside globes, harps and grandfather clocks. It’s a barnstorming climax but perhaps not quite enough to justify the build-up.” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic

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” …an atmospheric picture that moves at a fairly languid pace. There are some really impressive shots in here, lots of spooky imagery and of course, the presence of the inimitable Ms. Steele all working in the film’s favor, and those are all very good things indeed. The story itself is a bit clunky…” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!

” …the film is far from bad and quite arresting in parts: Dr. Hauff’s voice croaking on a phonograph record; the unsettling image of flowers slowly wilting in glass bowl; and the eerily beautiful children’s lullaby that clues the heroes how to survive the horror. Pupillo undercuts the eerie mood with chattering narration from his dopey hero…” Andrew Pragasam, The Spinning Image

Five Graves for a Medium is a fairly routine mid-60’s Italian horror film. While it isn’t nearly as goofy as Pupillo’s contemporary Bloody Pit of Horror had led me to anticipate, it certainly isn’t any good either, at least in the sense that normal people use the term. I still found it moderately enjoyable, though. There are a few outbursts of amusingly incontinent overacting, some really choice dialogue…” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

Choice dialogue:

Albert Kovac: “There’s an owl caught in the engine.”

Cast and characters:

  • Walter Brandi as Albert Kovac (The Slaughter of the Vampires)
  • Mirella Maravidi as Corinne Hauff
  • Barbara Steele as Cleo Hauff (Shivers; The She Beast; The Pit and the Pendulum; et al)
  • Alfredo Rizzo as Dr. Nemek (The Bloodsucker Leads the DancePlaygirls and the Vampire)
  • Riccardo Garrone as Joseph Morgan
  • Luciano Pigozzi as Kurt, the servant
  • Tilde Till as Louise, the maid
  • Ennio Balbo as Oskar Stinner
  • Steve Robinson
  • René Wolf

Filming locations:

Castel Fusano, Rome, Lazio, Italy (Girl in Room 2aCold Blooded Beast)

Wikipedia | IMDb

Image credits: DVD Beaver

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Categories: 1960s, Italian, supernatural

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