Inspector Kruger (Piero Lulli) calls coroner Paul Eswai (Giacomo
Rossi-Stuart) to a remote village somewhere in the Carpathian mountains,
to help him investigate the death of Irena Hollander (Mirella Pamphili),
who died under mysterious circumstances after she had written the
inspector a letter promising him quite some evidence about crimes going on
in the village.
But in the village, everybody from Burgomeister Karl (Luciano
Catenacci) downwards seems to be much too afraid to make any kind of
testimony, & the villagers even try to bury Irena before an autopsy
can be performed.
At the autopsy, performed by Paul with Monica (Erika Blanc) - a woman
new to the town so not (yet) caught up in the local superstition - as a
witness, Paul finds a coin inside the corpses heart ... to not turn her
into a remorseless ghost, as Ruth (Fabienne Dali), the local sorceress,
Meanwhile the Burgomaster reveals to the inspector the story of 7-year
old Melissa (Valerio Valeri), the daughter of Baroness Graps (Gianna
Vivaldi) - who pretty much owns the city -, who has died during a village
celebration while trying to toll the churchtowers bell ... & since she
wanders the city as a restless spirit & whoever sees her must die,
preceded by chiming of the bell.
However, the knowledge doesn't do the inspector too much good, soon he
too ends up dead ... & so do quite a few other villagers, including
the Burgomeister, all killing themselves under hypnotic influence after
they have seen the girl.
Paul & Monica start an investigation at the local cemetary, but
soon find themselves locked into the Graps' family crypt, & the only
way out they find eventually is right into Baronesse Grasp's castle, where
Monica learns that she is actually dead Melissa's sister, before being
dragged off by something (Melissa perhaps) & prepared for her death.
Paul, who tries to find her in the castle, suddenly finds himself at the
towns square where he breaks down ... to wake up in the care of Ruth, the
sorceress, who now - finally - promises to help him, because the Burgomeister
was her husband & now she wants revenge (& seems to be the only
one with enough knowledge to be able to do it).
So while Paul looks for, finds & rescues Monica, Ruth goes after
the Baroness, who's really behind the terror (though in a supernatural
way) & strangles her, which stops the horror once and for all.
Now admittedly, the story of that film is as silly as it sounds (maybe
even more so), but that never kapt Mario Bava from making a good movie out
of it: A great use of cheap & unconvincing sets, unusual lighing &
camera angles, surreal dreamsequences & editing that consciously
defies orientation create a wonderfully creepy atmosphere which probably
owes more to nightmares than than anytghing else ... & what better
could one say about a horror film.