Even though color film was becoming the norm in the ’50s, studios kept making horror movies in black and white. This was mainly done for two reasons. The first was a large cost bump when a production went color at that time. The second was fear that color would upset the delicate sensibilities of censors. But that began to change at the end of the decade when Hammer went color on their versions of Frankenstein and Dracula. While Italy was making their various Hercules and Bible films in color, they used black and white for their scary films until Mill of The Stone Women began production. The first color horror film from Italy became such a success at the time that they made at least 4 different cuts. Now these four cuts have been collected for a special boxset of Mill of the Stone Women so you can have a sense of what different countries saw inside the windmill.
Hans Van Arnim (Apache Gold’s Pierre Brice) is a journalist that has to travel to a distant part of Holland for his next assignment. The Mill of the Stone Women is a unique art exhibit/roadside attraction. Inside a windmill, Professor Gregorius Wahl (Elephant Fury’s Herbert Boehme) has created a series of statues about infamous women that rotate around the floor so everyone can see the parade. It’s like a really creepy version of Disney’s It’s A Small World. People come from all over to see the realistic wax statues. Hans runs into Dr. Wahl’s daughter Elfie (Modesty Blaise’s Scilla Gabel) and becomes smitten by her. But before he can do too much, he’s warned from being near her by Dr. Bohlem (The Fifth Cord’s Wolfgang Preiss). She’s not in good health and can’t deal with too much stimulation. Turns out she’s got a lot of health issues and the doctor and professor are using their art project to keep Elfie going.
Mill of the Stone Women has all the good things you’d want from a European horror film in 1960. There’s a creepy location involving the Dutch countryside and the windmill. There’s the always creepy element of a wax museum where you think things look alive and then you discover the horrible secret of making things life-like. A creepy relationship between the artist and his daughter. An even creepier element as what the artist had to do to keep his daughter looking so pretty and breathing. The end when the nightmare of the Mill is brought to an end. The use of color adds so much to the experience. While it’s not a vivid gore fest of today, there had to be a few people that were shaken when the blood flowed. The film also has a classy angle to it with the European charms. There’s a reason why this was hit nearly 60 years ago and deserves to be rediscovered by horror fans.
The boxset gives you four versions of Mill of the Stone Women so you can see how different territories viewed the move. They are all subtitled so you can follow along in Italian and French. The running time for each is: Italian version (95:36), English Export Version (95:37), French Version (89:51) and US Version (94:29). You’ll eventually watch each version to see the little changes.
Video is 1.66:1 anamorphic. There are black bars on the side of the screen to fill your HDTV. The color looks so nice in the new transfer. The audio is English mono LPCM. Things sound sharp even though it’s all done in post-production. All four movies are subtitled in English.
Audio Commentary by Tim Lucas give plenty of background on the film and the filmmakers.
Mill of the Stone Women & The Gothic Body (24:10) is a video essay by Kat Ellinger. She goes into the uncanny in relation to the horror film.
Turned to Stone (27:07) interviews with actress Liana Orlei and historian Fabio Melelli. Orlei reveals the influence Fellini had on her career. Melelli dips into how the Dutch location influenced director Giorgio Ferroni look of the film.
A Little Chat with Dr. Mabuse (15:52) is an archival talk with actor Wolfgang Preiss. He shows off his scrapbook and talks about being directed by Otto Preminger in The Cardinal.
Alternate Opening Titles includes the UK “Drops of Blood” Title (1:30) and German Titles (2:43). Both are rather rough.
Trailers feature US Theatrical Trailer (2:02) and German Trailer (3:19) for the original release. The film promises plenty of shocks.
Image Galleries includes Posters, Stills, Lobby Cards, German Pressbook and US Pressbook. You’ll be able to open this film in your living room with the proper hype. The ads promised a film that’s “Chilling, Monstrous, Grisly, Macabre and Frightening!” There’s also a warning that you might lose your head.
Arrow Video presents Mill of the Stone Women. Directed by: Giorgio Ferroni. Starring: Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel, Wolfgang Preiss, Dany Carrel, Herbert A.E. Böhme and Liana Orfei. Rated: Unrated. Boxset contents: 4 movies on 2 Blu-rays. Release Date: December 14, 2021.
Tags: Arrow Video, horror, Italian