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The Whip and the Body (1963)

La frusta e il corpo (original title)
Not Rated | | Horror, Romance | 10 December 1965 (USA)
The ghost of a sadistic nobleman attempts to rekindle his romance with his terrorized, masochistic former lover, who is unwillingly affianced to his brother.


Mario Bava (as John M. Old)


Ernesto Gastaldi (story and screenplay) (as Julian Berry), Ugo Guerra (story and screenplay) (as Robert Hugo) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Daliah Lavi ... Nevenka
Christopher Lee ... Kurt Menliff
Tony Kendall ... Christian Menliff
Evelyn Stewart ... Katia (as Isli Oberon)
Harriet Medin ... Giorgia (as Harriet White)
Gustavo De Nardo ... Count Vladimir Menliff (as Dean Ardow)
Jacques Herlin ... Priest
Luciano Pigozzi ... Losat (as Alan Collins)


After the announcement of the servant Losat, the nobleman Kurt Menliff returns to the castle of his family at the seaside to congratulate his brother Christian Menliff for his marriage with his former lover Nevenka. Kurt feels the hatred and the fear of his father Count Menliff and the servant Giorgia, who blames him for seducing and killing her daughter, and indifference from his cousin Katia. On the next afternoon, the sadistic Kurt meets Nevenka riding a horse alone on the beach and whips the masochistic woman and makes love with her. Late night, Nevenka is missing and everybody is seeking her while Kurt is stabbed in the neck with the same dagger that Giorgia's daughter was murdered. On the next days, the members of the family suspects of each other while Nevenka is haunted by the ghost of Kurt. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Evil Horror!!! See more »


Horror | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Sir Christopher Lee had hoped to work with Director Mario Bava on another movie, but their busy schedules kept them from working together again. Lee had also heard inaccurate rumors suggesting that Bava's mental health was in decline, and upon seeing A Bay of Blood (1971), he was so disgusted by its violence that he left the theater in protest. See more »


When the branch is hitting the window, it's clear that someone is making it do so by hand, because the motion is too unnatural and quick. See more »


Kurt Menliff: I have never had a warmer welcome.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The region 2 German DVD (PAL format, released by E.M.S./new media) has the two above mentioned shots put back into the film (film is uncut) as well as having virtually all of the same special features as the VCI DVD version. See more »


Referenced in Shock (1977) See more »

User Reviews

Lashings of great visuals but Bava is flogging a dead horse.
25 March 2011 | by BA_HarrisonSee all my reviews

Sadistic scoundrel Kurt (Christopher lee), black sheep of the family, returns home to find that absence hasn't exactly made the heart grow fonder: his father (Gustavo De Nardo), brother Christian (Tony Kendall), ex-lover Nevenka (Daliah Lavi) and housemaid Giorgia (Harriet Medin) still find him utterly loathsome. Unsurprisingly, Kurt winds up being murdered, but even death cannot stop his cruelty...

In keeping with its Sadean theme, The Whip and the Body is both a pleasure to behold and a pain to endure: aesthetically, the film cannot be rivalled, with excellent costume and set design, and exquisite direction from Mario Bava, whose camera glides gracefully through pools of coloured light and ominous swathes of shadow to great effect; the story, however, is less impressive, a trite exercise in Gothic cliché, replete with a creepy cliff-top castle continually battered by strong winds and thunderstorms, a raft of morbid characters, all of whom harbour dark secrets, loads of tiresome symbolism, and some ridiculous psychological claptrap.

The sado-masochistic nature of the central relationship between Kurt and Navenka (which is surprisingly way ahead of its time) prevents the film from attaining coma-inducing levels, but with extremely long periods where nothing much of interest happens, the film is far from the perfect perverted and poetic love story that its ardent supporters claim it to be.

8 out of 10 for the lovely imagery, but 4/10 for the story—so that's an average rating of 6/10.

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Italy | France


Italian | English

Release Date:

10 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

What! See more »

Filming Locations:

Tor Caldara, Lazio, Italy


Box Office


$66,500 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (1964) (cut)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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