Mill of the Stone Women (1960)
Cast: Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel, Wolfgang Preiss, Liana Orfei, Herbert Boehme
Director: Giorgio Ferroni
Nutshell: Creepy, Macabre and sinister tale reminiscent of The House of Wax
In the early 1900’s a young and mild mannered Dr. Hans Van Arnhim arrives in a town on the outskirts of Amsterdam in order to take up a job that involves studying a local landmark – a famed windmill that contains a carousel of figurines of ghastly female killers from the past.
Dr. Van Arnhim is met at Dr. Vaal’s windmill residence by a mysterious maid – and while waiting he is bewildered and intrigued by the sight that unfolds in front of him. From a parting in the heavy set curtains a fragile, trembling greyhound appears, almost groaning in some strange grimace. Above the simpering creature stands a beautiful mysterious woman, her face barely visible through the curtains. Hans is intrigued enough to ask a few questions at the local inn where he learns that Vaal has a daughter Elfie who for reasons unknown never, ever emerges from the windmill home.
Drawn to the mystery woman’s immense beauty and allure, Hans returns to the Windmill where a drop dead gorgeous Elfie is indeed waiting for him with lustful intent! Hans can hardly believe his luck and returns to Elfie the following night – she seems rejuvenated yet turns madly possessive especially after she realizes that Hans’s real feelings are for his childhood sweetheart and it is to her that he will eventually return. Shunned, she swears revenge. Then gradually the mystery about her beautiful façade is revealed – too ghastly and hideously macabre to behold!
Mill of the Stone Women released in 1960 follows on the footsteps of two similar classic horror films and is clearly influenced by both, namely The House of Wax and Eyes Without a Face. The movie has similar themes to the above mentioned films and also shares much of the style, atmosphere and aura. It’s a thoroughly entertaining, well acted and deliciously macabre film with numerous wonderfully chilling sequences, drenched in a smoggy evil.
There is a sinister feel to the film created partially by the background score that is once again reminiscent of the eerie carnival theme used in Eyes Without a Face. The carousel featured in the movie is alone worth watching the film for – wonderfully creepy, sinister and malevolent ‘wax’ effigies of monsters from the past lurch forward then twist and contort hideously as they make their way along, propelled by a jittery conveyor belt. Later on there is a delightfully ghastly sequence where a fresh corpse, just going into rigor mortis is injected and then carved up into the “prescribed shape”. Deliciously grisly stuff with some great sound effects for the cracking sounds of breaking bones!
Mill of the Stone Women is a thoroughly gripping, enormously entertaining slice of horror Grand Guignol very much in the style of the two films it followed, yet to its credit it scores on its own merit and not for a moment does the film come across as a cheap rip off of the two films it so resembles – in fact quite to the contrary.
The film lying in obscurity for so long has been lovingly revived by Mondo Macabro’s DVD release which presents the film in an impressive looking anamorphic transfer and boasts a choice of 3 audio tracks to select from as well as an extensive selection of advertising artwork used for the films promotion. Gives the phrase Drop Dead Gorgeous a whole new meaning!