Throughout the 1960s and into the mid-1970s, two very different kinds of films dominated the Italian horror genre, each accompanied by their own distinctive iconographies. The gothic style is frequently associated with the remote past, cobweb-strewn castles, and ancestral curses, while giallo films emphasize the perils of modernity, and usually feature a masked and black-gloved killer picking off unsuspecting, albeit not always entirely undeserving, victims. As a rule, these modes were kept far apart. Still, one can point to a few illustrative exceptions, like Mario Bava’s unfairly maligned Baron Blood.
Then there are a matched pair of films from writer-director Emilio P. Miraglia, an elusive figure about whom little biographical information is available. Miraglia turned out only six films over the course of his attenuated career, working mostly in the crime thriller or poliziotteschi genre, but his two horror titles make for wildly entertaining—if, at times, somewhat unfocused—case studies in the fusion of gothic and giallo styles. Judging by the outside work of his screenwriting collaborators, Miraglia seems to have been the one inclined to bring the gothic chills, and it’s interesting to see how each film tips the scales in favor of one mode or the other.