In this eerie and effective early horror film from prolific genre director Antonio Margheriti, Alan Foster (Georges Riviere), an American tourist visiting England, takes a bet from a Lord Blackwood and his guest, Edgar Allan Poe, to spend the night in a haunted mansion. The rationalist Foster, who does not believe in the supernatural, is soon drawn into a world of ghosts and phantoms, doomed to eternally replay the horrifying murders that climaxed a long-ago love triangle. Foster also finds himself in love with one of the protagonists, the beautiful Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), and it is a love which ensures that he never leaves the haunted castle alive. It's a marvelously atmospheric gothic thriller, one of the best Italian horror films of the decade, and quite properly made the enchantingly spooky Steele -- fresh from Mario Bava's La Maschera del Demonio -- even more of a horror icon. Riccardo Pallotini's evocative camerawork enhances the mood tremendously, and the shock scenes, though perhaps too tame for modern audiences, are nonetheless strikingly effective. Margheriti remade the film in widescreen color eight years later (as Nella Stretta Morsa del Ragno), but this version remains one of the handful of definitive Italian gothics. Silvano Tranquilli co-stars with Margaret Robsahm, Henry Kruger, and Umberto Raho.
by Robert Firsching synopsis