“Death will take you in your sleep — in your sleep!”
When necrophilic Dr. Hichcock (Robert Fleyming) accidentally kills his first wife (Maria Teresa Vianello) by injecting her with too much anesthesia, he leaves home, returning 12 years later with a new wife, Cynthia (Barbara Steele). Cynthia soon believes that Margherita (Vianello) may be haunting the premises, and intent on killing her — but cannot get her husband to believe her.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Barbara Steele Films
- Mad Doctors and Scientists
- “No One Believes Me!”
This beloved, controversially-themed thriller — starring wide-eyed Barbara Steele, the lead in Mario Bava’s classic Black Sunday (1960) — is regarded by many as a staple of Italian gothic horror. As noted in Richard Scheib’s Moria review, however, it ultimately relies too heavily on genre cliches and moody atmosphere at the expense of both plot and character development. In particular, Dr. Hichcock’s motivations towards his new wife don’t make much sense, and eventually the story begins to feel like merely an exercise in spousal persecution, with strong echoes of Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) — probably an explicit homage, given the lead character’s name.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Robert Flemying as Bernard Hichcock
- Several effectively scary moments — as when Cynthia’s cries for help are muffled through the glass top of her coffin
- Atmospheric cinematography and production design
- A majestic musical score by Roman Vlad
No, but it’s worth a look for its status as a cult favorite.