Twilight Time Goes Giallo with LA BAMBOLA DI SATANA (1969) on Blu-ray

La Bambola di Satana [The Doll Of Satan] is now available from Twilight Time in a Limited Edition of 3,000 units.

Upon the death of her wealthy uncle, a young woman (Erna Schurer) finds herself the new owner of his considerable estate which includes a large, spooky castle. The comely Elizabeth Balljanon and her hunky boyfriend Jack (Roland Carey) arrive at the castle to accept ownership and sort out the details. Along with the estate, Elizabeth also inherits the employment of its handful of caretakers. Elizabeth is notified by the house staff that her uncle had intended to sell the castle, and is pressured to honor his wish, but feels unnerved because the whole idea just smells wrong.

At night, the spooky castle unnerves her, and she hears ghostly murmuring of her name and has fitful sleep. The castle holds many secrets — she’s also surprised to learn, for example, about a subterranean foreshadowing. Er, subterranean torture chamber. As fear chips at her, it gives way to dreamlike sequences of torture and erotic acts — are they real, nightmares, or hallucinations?

The film has several minor characters in the interest of padding the whodunit angle, and while the castle’s uptight governess is clearly involved in the plot, there’s a mystery surrounding her co-conspirator, whose voice is masked and face hidden throughout the movie. The film does a nice job of keeping this angle interesting, and the climactic “unmasking” of the evildoer is as surprising as it is absolutely ludicrous.

I wish I could report that this is a lost gem that demands your attention the same way its incredible cover art (which is next-level awesome) does, but while it’s an interesting watch, it’s also plagued by lackadaisical direction and a convoluted mystery. I’m still kind of baffled by some of the subplots and goings-on, unsure if they mattered to the plot somehow or were simply random red herrings. Sadly, the title is also purely a random, interesting-sounding hook which makes no sense in the context of the film. According to sources on the troubled set, the amateur director was completely inept and the film’s star and crew basically had to take charge — yeah, I find that believable enough.

The Package

La Bambola di Satana is an obscure bit of Italian cinema, in other words — the perfect fit for Twilight Time’s high-priced, low-volume strategy. While the movie is middling, it’s been impossible to find for ages and worth shelling out for anyone who’s been aching to track it down. It’s also satisfying to see Twilight Time expand their foreign offerings, especially by diving into deep-cut Italian horror and Giallo.

Special Features and Extras

The disc features two alternate audio options. Special features are understandably sparse considering the film’s obscurity, so the inclusion of a commentary track comes as a pleasant surprise.

Audio Commentary with Film Historians David Del Valle and Derek Botelho

Isolated Score
 Did I mention the music is surprisingly wacky?


An example of early Italian horror with Gothic and Giallo elements. Genre enthusiasts might want to seek out this rare and obscure film, but generally speaking it’s rather mediocre.

A/V Out.

Available from Twilight Time.

Get it at Amazon:
 La Bambola di Satana [Blu-ray]

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