Friday, 16 July 2010

IL MULINO DELLE DONNE DI PIETRA/ Mill of the Stone Women/ Drops of Blood (1960)

I first saw this back ib the early 1960s as DROPS OF BLOOD in a print that was quite inferior to this DVD version. Was Giorgio Ferroni a good director or was this the one time in his career that all the elements came together at the right time? A good cast, a good story by Flemish writer Pieter van Weigen, great sets and good photography. Ferroni seems to have spebt most of his career churning out Peplum and Spaghetti Westerns but on the strength of MILL OF THE STONE WOMEN I'd like to sample more of his work. An Italian/French co=production (the copy I saw had French dialogue with some scenes inexplicably in English as though it had been put together from two different prints) which has the benefit of some scenes that are seemingly filmed on location in Holland. As a horror film it has less in common with the other Italian shockers being made at the time than it does with the older tradition of Carl Dreyer's classic VAMPYR (although Ferrori's vampirism is of the medical variety), Andre DeToth's HOUSE OF WAX and Franju's EYES WITHOUT A FACE, a film with which it shares certain plot elements. Ferroni conjures an atmosphere that effortlessly evokes the weirdness and beauty of the Dreyer masterpiece - I particularly liked the macabre funeral entorage at the ferry - and I do not exaggerate when I say that there are moments when he approaches the exquisitely cruel poetry of the Franju film. The cast, headed by Winnetou the Warrior himself, Pierre Brice and Scilla Gabel is fine with the villainy in the very capable hands of Wolfgang Preiss and Herbert Bohme. Impressive. Rating ****

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

I must agree the print was startlingly good. Also I have no idea why the soundtrack randomly cuts to English in some places. The dvd makes no explanation and a couple other films on the label I've noticed do this as well. All I can think is that the scenes were cut out of the original print (doubtful since there seems to be no cut evident on the print) or else for some reason the soundtrack for each particular segment was somehow damaged or erased. Puzzling. However, I totally agree about the sumptuous look of the film and yes there was very much about the film's look and feel that called to mind HOUSE OF WAX and EYES WITHOUT A FACE. I haven't seen VAMPYR in quite some years but, on reflection, I think you've got something there. My copy of VAMPYR I recorded offa TCM so I should rent the new dvd version which I hear is exceptional.