Castle of Evil is a 1966 American color horror film produced by Earle Lyon, directed by Francis D. Lyon and written by Charles A. Wallace. It stars Scott Brady, Virginia Mayo, David Brian, Lisa Gaye, Hugh Marlowe and William Thourlby. The film was released by World Entertainment Corp. in November 1966 as the first movie on a double bill with the black-and-white British science fiction film Blood Beast from Outer Space (1965). Castle of Evil tells the story of a dead scientist who, with the help of his long-time housekeeper and a robot, seeks revenge from beyond the grave on the person who murdered him.
The film’s working title was The Haunting of Castle Montego. Principle photography began on 11 November 1965 at Producers Studio in Los Angeles.
United Picture Corporation’s first films, Castle of Evil and Destination Inner Space, were shot back to back in 14 days. Director Francis D. Lyon said, “I don’t recommend this hurried approach as a practice, because quality has to suffer.”
Castle of Evil‘s first theatrical showing was in Texas in November 1966. This was followed by openings in Los Angeles in mid-March 1967 and New York City in early October 1967. However, the film was licensed by World Entertainment Corp. to 13 television stations in “several western states” months before it opened in theaters across the US.
The film was the first feature on a double bill with Blood Beast from Outer Space. American critic and psychometrist Bryan Senn writes the reason that “the awful (but color) Castle of Evil” ran first is because Blood Beast from Outer Space was “shot in moody black and white when, at the time, even low-budget efforts were almost invariable in color.”
Castle of Evil was given an X-certification by the BBFC on 1 July 1970. It was the same day that the BBFC raised the minimum age to 18 for exhibiting X-cert films to audience members; prior to then, the minimum age had been 16. No footage is known to have been cut from the film in order to obtain the certification necessary for it to be shown in the UK.
The exhibitor’s manual for Castle of Evil and Blood Beast from Outer Space describes the double bill as the “Twin Shock Show With That Big Box-Office Punch!”
World Entertainment Corp. distributed Castle of Evil in the US. It was distributed in the UK by Compton Films Ltd.
The film aired repeatedly on US television during the 1970s. For example, in New York City, it was shown on WNEW Ch.5 at 1:00 pm Saturday 27 December 1975; and on WPIX Ch.11 at 6:00 pm on 29 February 1976, a week later at 8:00 pm on 6 March 1976, and at 2:00 am on Wednesday 9 May 1979.
Few critics have written about Castle of Evil. British Critic Phil Hardy calls the movie a “tedious film” in which “A murderer’s robot (…) is programmed to kill the members of the trio responsible for disfiguring the scientist before his death.” And “The climax sees Brady gunning down the robot with a laser gun found in the laboratory.”
Clive Davies, a British critic, writes that “This kind of senseless horror with old dark house mystery trappings is not very good, but is strangely enjoyable.” He, too, makes note of the film’s “robotic electronic clone” of Kovic, the laser gun and “A gas chamber in the basement [that] turns people into skeletons instantly.”
Another American critic, Kristie Hanssen, describes the plot of Castle of Evil as “A bunch of hopeful heirs arrives on an isolated island to hear the will of a horribly scarred, mad scientist.” Besides finding the person who caused Kovic’s disfigurement, they must “also survive the rampages of a robot the scientist made in his own image.”
color, mono, fullscreen, 80 minutes. DVD-R coomes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!