Mill of the Stone Women

Mill of the Stone Women

Mill of the Stone Women

directed by Giorgio Ferroni

starring Pierre Brice, Scilla Gabel

Arrow Video

While it isn’t nearly as revered as the Mario Bava classics Black Sunday (1960) and Blood and Black Lace (1964), Giorgio Ferroni’s Mill of the Stone Women was not only Italy’s first color horror film but it was a hugely influential film that helped guide the aesthetics for horror and giallo filmmaking in Italy for two decades.

Mill of the Stone Women traverses familiar ground as a young researcher goes to do research ahead of the centenary celebration of the mill’s grotesque clockwork carousel of lifelike statues depicting the deaths of famous women in history including Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Salome, and Anne Bolyen. The figures are ostensibly stone, but for all intents and purposes they are waxworks putting the film in similar visual and narrative space with Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and House of Wax (1953). Weird occurrences pile upon each other, including an extended LSD trip, leaving our young protagonist doubting his own sanity, but with help from his friends he uncovers the truth of the dark secrets hidden within the old mill.

Following the success of Hammer Films’ Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Horror of Dracula (1958) launched a revival of gothic themed horror films which had fallen out of favor during World War Two. The cycle got going world wide in 1960 with an amazing run of classic films with Mill of the Stone Women, Black Sunday, Roger Corman’s House of Usher, Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face, and Roger Vadim’s Blood and Roses all being released within weeks of each other. If you close your eyes and picture Italian horror from the sixties you think of high contrast, heavily saturated images seemingly inspired by Hammer Films’ gothic films, yet the the palette with the decidedly unnatural colored lighting with red, amber, and emerald gels had already been in vogue in Italy in other genres. The color and cinematography of Ferroni’s film pop like never before. After decades of dodgy video releases it absolutely sings on this blu-ray that presents the film in four different versions in Italian, English, German and French) some of the versions feature some decidedly different cuts not only omitting small amounts of nudity but also adding extra scenes and other minor alterations.

If you spread one film over two discs one would rightly assume there is more to the release than just alternate cuts and language tracks and Mill of the Stone Women does not disappoint. Gothic film historian Tim Lucas delivers the goods on his audio commentary where he not only discusses the film’s production and legacy, but also delves into the likelihood that horror master Mario Bava had an uncredited hand in doing some reshoots and touch up work on the film. Kat Ellinger presents a video essay titled Mill of the Stone Women & The Gothic Body, which delves into the use of waxworks and mannequins in gothic cinema with her knack for finding unexpected depth to very niche subjects.

Mill of the Stone Women’s release from Arrow Video is a far cry from the Paragon Video release on Beta and VHS decades ago, with outstanding picture and sound coupled with serious and thoughtful extras that really elevate the package and show overdue respect for beloved genre films.

www.arrowvideo.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Tom Tom Club
    Tom Tom Club

    The Good The Bad and the Funky (Nacional). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

  • Araceli Lemos
    Araceli Lemos

    Shortly after AFI Fest 2021 wrapped, Generoso spoke at length with director, Araceli Lemos about her award-winning and potent feature debut, Holy Emy. Lemos’s film uses elements of body horror in her story about the exoticization of two Filipina sisters living in Greece and how that exploitation creates a distance between them.

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

  • Demons/Demons 2
    Demons/Demons 2

    Synapse Films reissues Lamberto Bava’s epic ’80s gore-filled movies Demons and Demons 2 in beautiful new editions.

  • Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson
    Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson

    Searching for the Disappearing Hour (Pyroclastic Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

From the Archives