The Castello di Balsorano – in the Abruzzo region of Italy, 130 kilometers east of Rome – is one of the great locations in exploitation film history. It has been used in over 100 giallo, horror, sword and sandal, softcore and hardcore sex films – as well as the occasional mainstream film – from the late 1950s through to the 1990s.
Today the castle is not currently open to the public, but we were privileged to have been given a personal guided tour. It’s an impressive structure – with two restaurants, three bars, an armory, a library, a ballroom, a chapel, 35 bedrooms, various roof terraces, full parking, and two swimming pools.
In fact, it’s currently on sale for €5.9m (negotiable). So how about a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds so we can all secure this landmark cinematic location?
Castello di Balsorano – A selected filmography:
Crypt of the Vampire (1964) (aka La cripta e l’incubo) – with Christopher Lee
The Seventh Grave (1965) (aka La settima tomba)
Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) (aka Il boia scarlatto) – with Mickey Hargitay
A… For Assassin (1966) (aka A come assassino)
7 Golden Women Against Two 07: Treasure Hunt (1967) (aka Sette donne contro due 07) – with Mickey Hargitay (again)
Trap for Seven Spies (1967) (aka Trappola per sette spie)
Le 7 cinesi d’oro (1967)
Killer Without a Face (1968) (aka Assassino senza volto) – with Janine Reynaud
Pensiero d’amore (1969) – with Silvia Dionisio
The Lickerish Quartet (1970) (aka Esotika Erotika Psicotika) – directed by Radley Metzger
Lady Barbara (1970) – with Paola Tedesco
Riuscirà il nostro eroe a ritrovare il più grande diamante del mondo? (1971) – with Ray Danton
Lady Frankenstein (1971) (aka La figlia di Frankenstein) – with Joseph Cotten, Rosalba Neri, and Mickey Hargitay (again!)
The Long Shadow of the Wolf (1971) (aka La lunga ombra del lupo)
Put Your Devil Into My Hell (1972) (aka Metti lo diavolo tuo ne lo mio inferno)
The Lusty Wives of Canterbury (1972) (aka Canterbury n. 2 – Nuove storie d’amore del ‘300)
The Reincarnation of Isabel (1973) (aka Riti, magie nere e segrete orge nel trecento) – with Mickey Hargitay (again!!)
E Continuavano a mettere lo diavolo ne lo inferno (1973)
The Devil’s Wedding Night (1973) (aka Il plenilunio delle vergini) – with Mark Damon and Rosalba Neri
Farfallon (1974) – with Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia
The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance (1975) (aka Sanguisuga conduce la danza) – with Femi Benussi and Giacomo Rossi Stuart
A Common Sense of Modesty (1976) (aka Il comune senso del pudore) – with Alberto Sordi, Florinda Bolkan, Silvia Dionisio, Dagmar Lassander, and Claudia Cardinale
Sister Emanuelle (1977) (aka Suor Emanuelle) – with Laura Gemser
The Malicious Whore (1979) (aka Malabimba)
There is a Ghost in My Bed (1981) (aka C’è un fantasma nel mio letto) – with Lilli Carati and Renzo Montagnani
Bollenti spiriti (1981) – with Gloria Guida and Lory Del Santo
Erotic Flash (1981) (aka Moana e Marina ingorde di sesso, aka Homo Eroticus) – with Moana Pozzi and Marina Hedman
The Blade Master (1982) (aka Ator 2 L’invincibile Orion) – with Miles O’Keeffe
Marquis de Sade (1994) (aka Il Marchese De Sade – Oltre ogni perversione) – directed by Joe D’Amato, with Rocco Siffredi
Sexy caccia al tesoro (1994) – directed by Luca Damiano and Joe D’Amato
Hamlet: For the Love of Ophelia (1995) (aka Amleto – Per amore di Ophelia) – directed by Luca Damiano, with Sarah Young
Il Barone von Masoch (1995) – directed by Luca Damiano, with Christoph Clark
Decameron X – Racconti arguti… di mogli puttane e mariti cornuti (1995) – directed by Luca Damiano
Decameron Tales II (aka Decameron X2 – Novelle maliziose (di bernarde assai vogliose) (1995) – directed by Luca Damiano
The Balsorano Castle (also known as Castello Piccolomini) was originally a Guelph building first built in the 1200s when it belonged to the Naples crown.
In 1463, the Barony of Balsorano was passed to Antionio Piccolomini who restored and enlarged the building. The castle stayed in the Piccolomini family for several centuries until it was purchased in 1850 by the French industrialist Carlo Lefebvre.
The building was badly damaged by a 1975 earthquake in the area – and the Lefebvre family and the Italian government spent millions restoring it. Evidence of the damage is still evident today.
Over the last century, the castle has changed hands twice: in 1929, it was sold to the Zanelli-Fiastri family who, in the late 1950s, approached several film companies in Rome offering the building as a film set. It was a perfect location – just over an hour away from the many film production companies based in Rome.
In 1975, the castle was acquired by the current owner, IASM srl, who continued to rent the facilities out to film crews – increasingly of a pornographic nature. In recent years, the complex was renovated and turned into a destination for weddings and a conference center.
Today it stands empty, awaiting a buyer and the next chapter of its storied existence.
1. The Lickerish Quartet – Title sequence
2. The Lickerish Quartet – Exteriors
The Rialto Report’s April Hall, in the role played by Erica Remberg
3. The Lickerish Quartet – The Dungeon Scenes
4. The Lickerish Quartet – Stairway
5. The Lickerish Quartet – The Yellow Room scenes
6. The Lickerish Quartet – The Corridor
7. The Lickerish Quartet – The Main Ballroom
8. The Lickerish Quartet – The Bedroom
9. The Lickerish Quartet – The Roof
9. The Lickerish Quartet – Surrounding Vineyards
Epilogue – Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) (aka Il boia scarlatto)
Five years before Radley filmed ‘The Lickerish Quartet’, the same castle was used for the film Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) (aka Il boia scarlatto) starring Mickey Hargitay.
The film was one of many that used the identical locations in the castle as Radley would use.
Thirty years after ‘The Bloody Pit of Horror’ was filmed at the Balsorano Castle, the location became a staple for shot-on-video historical porn films, many of them filmed by Joe D’Amato.
These included Marquis de Sade (1994), Hamlet: For the Love of Ophelia (1995), and Decameron X (shown in the screen shot below – clearly showing the same wallpaper visible in The Lickerish Quartet.)