nightmare castle

Queen of Schlock! The B Movies Queens: Gothic Scream Queen Barbara Steele

Tis the time of year, when things are gloomier, night falls faster and the night air carries an eeriness. On our evening walk, guided by the brightness of the full moon, we can hear the howls of werewolf in the distance, and when we pass the seemingly abandoned manor, we see the curtains flutter, leaving use to wonder if it is a ghost or the wind finding its way through a broken pane. Do we run or stand and observe the night as it creeps in around us? In a situation like this, it’s best to take guidance from the dark Goddess herself, Barbara Steele. What would she do in a situation like this? Barbara would grab the biggest candelabra she could find and would wrap her delicate fingers around it, holding onto her skirt, walking forward, fearless, letting curiosity win her over as we’ve known her to do in every single gothic horror she has starred in!

I’m sorry… did I hear someone in the back ask who Barbara Steele was? How DARE you! Barbara Steele is the ultimate gothic horror scream queen. She is the dark Goddess!

Barbara Steele is a British actress, best known for the Italian Gothic horror movies she starred in, mostly in the 1960s. Many will know her for her breakthrough role in Black Sunday (1960) while others will know her from her later role as Dr. Julia Hoffman / Countess Natalie Du Pres in Dark Shadows (1991).

***During the 1960s, Steele starred in a string of Italian horror films, including Black Sunday (1960), The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962), The Ghost (1963), The Long Hair of Death (1964), Castle of Blood (1964), Terror-Creatures from the Grave and Nightmare Castle (both 1965). She also starred in Roger Corman‘s 1961 adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe‘s short story The Pit and the Pendulum and the British film Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968).

Steele returned to the horror genre in the later 1970s, appearing in three horror films: David Cronenberg‘s Shivers (a.k.a. They Came From Within) (1975), Piranha (1978), and Silent Scream (1979). *** {source Wikipedia}

My all time favourite Barbara Steele movies are Castle of Blood, Nightmare Castle and Black Sunday. I’ve seen all three on both DVD and on the big screen. Viewing them on the big screen is of course the best way to view them, and I’m grateful that The Bloor Cinema showed them (they are no longer around) Recently, we showed The She Beast at Killer B Cinema. Right before Covid struck. It was a definite crowd pleaser. A little She Beast trivia, because Barbara Steele was only available for one day, she was kept on the set during 18 hours of shooting. It was a gruelling day, but the producer felt it was necessary. Apparently, she was beyond angry with him.

One thing that has always bothered me about movies starring Barbara Steele is they dubbed her voice and British accent in many of them. This was done for American audiences and unfortunately, in many cases, the only copies available. (they did the same to Caroline Munro)

I’ve been a fan of gothic horror for a very long time and I owe that to Barbara Steele. I was introduced to her when I was a teenager and I have adored her ever since. I get cravings to watch her movies when the gloom of November creeps in. There is a spookiness about the wind blowing through the barren trees, that goes hand-in-hand with the ultimate scream queen.

What is your favourite Barbara Steele movie?

Each month I run a b-movie night called Killer B Cinema. Join Lizzie Violet & Zoltan Du Lac for a monthly evening of b-moves from the 1950s to 1990s! There will also be trivia with prizes & much more! Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook!