Mill of the Stone Women - Mill of the Stone Women( Blu Ray/ DVD) [Artus Films - 2019]Mill of the Stone Women or Le Moulin des supplices to give it the French title is sold under here. Is one of the lesser known entries in the early 60’s euro horror genre- it’s an at times overly melodramatic blend of gothic horror & mad doctor sub-genres. Here from Artus Films is a recent duel Blu Ray & DVD presentation of the film, presented in a sixty four-page media book format.
Released in 1960 Mill of the Stone Women was a Italian/ French production- which was directed by Giorgio Ferroni- a Umbria based director/ writer/ producer- who between the late 1930’s & late 1970’s directed forty three films- moving from historic documentaries, comedy romances, drama, historical adventures, and westerns- he directed one other horror film, 1972’s Night Of The Devils- which was a vampire/ witch movie.
Mill of the Stone Women is set in 19th century Holland- with the often stark & eerier flat Dutch landscape & windmills, as its backdrop. The plot finds a young artists/journalist going to windmill of a mysterious sculptor who has an automated waxworks- featuring various historical posed female figures. Fairly soon we are introduced to the sculptor's daughter- who quickly falls in love with the journalist- and within the time we find she has a rare blood disease, that means she needs transfusions. These transfusions are done by her father, and his unbalanced doctor friend- who are kidnapping local women, draining all their blood then added them wrapped in wax to the waxworks.
The whole thing starts off nicely moody with grimly dramatic shots of autumnal Dutch canals & windmills- as the journalistic makes his way via boat the sculptor’s mill. When he arrives we get a keenly creepy atmosphere with female hands through a curtain & other atmospheric touches- sadly shortly after this great start, the pace does rather slow & for much of the films first three quarters we dwell in rather confusion character introduction, over ebbed melodrama, and overly dramatic acting. Though thankfully we do get some creepy & eerier set pieces- like the automated carousel like waxworks, a family tomb, and the shadowy inside of the mill its self. When what’s going on is finally revealed- we do get some generally unsettling imagery of the sculptor twisting the women’s rigor mortis limbs in the shape, effective if overdone mad doctor action, a surprisingly bloody stabbing & fleeting flashes of female flesh- which were fairly risqué for the early ’60s.
On the whole Mill of the Stone Women is certainly worth seeing if you’re a fan of gothic euro horror- as it’s an important, and ahead of time film. Sure the first three quarters is slow & often confusingly plotted, but if you have the patience to sit through this there are some very memorable & creepy moments along the way, and the wonderfully overblown & dramatic finale is great.
Moving onto discuss this recent reissue- the Blu ray & DVD are packaged inside a hardback media book, and in it’s middle is a sixty four page glossy inlay booklet- this is a blend of color stills, white & yellow text on a black background, and poster artwork- as this is a French release all the text here is in French, but as far as I can gather there’s a fair bit of ground covered with the texts- as it goes on from discussing the film in context to other Euro gothic horror films, the films cast, original press review quotes, and how the film fits in with other horror films set in waxworks- including a selected filmography of said films.
Moving onto the discs- and we get a 2k Restoration of the film- which is on both the Blu Ray & DVD- you can select which version of the film you want to watch be it English, French, or Italian- the English features turn off French subtitles. The new print looks nicely balanced, even in its color pallet, and for the most part nicely defined- for a film from the 1960s. On the extras front, we get a forty-minute featurette from French horror expert Alain Petit- this is in French, and once again it seems a fair bit of ground is covered. Next, we get an italian langue featurette that features French subtitles- this is seemingly with the films lead actress & Itlain genre film historian Fabio Melelli- this comes in at twenty-five minutes mark. Next, we get a selection of alternative opening credits, a British trailer, and poster/ stills gallery.
All in all, this is a very nice looking release and a great new scan of this lesser-known entry in the euro gothic sub-genre. Obviously, if you can read/ understand French you’ll get more from the booklet, and extras- but us a none French speaker I found it still most worthy..so if you’re a fan of euro gothic horror this is well worth a look. Head here to pick up a copy Roger Batty