Adult Film Locations – Part 14: The Exploitation Film Castle

Adult Film Locations – Part 14: The Exploitation Film Castle

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the filming of Radley Metzger‘s The Lickerish Quartet, The Rialto Report went in search of the castle in which the movie takes place.

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.

During that time, the location hardly changed – and has hosted luminaries such as Christopher Lee, Mickey Hargitay, Claudia Cardinale, Laura Gemser, Moana Pozzi, Joe D’Amato, and Rocco Siffredi.

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

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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.

 

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1. The Lickerish Quartet – Title sequence

 

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2. The Lickerish Quartet – Exteriors

 

 

 

 

 

The Rialto Report’s April Hall, in the role played by Erica Remberg

 

 

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3. The Lickerish Quartet – The Dungeon Scenes

 

Lickerish QuartetThe stone detail is unchanged since the 1960s

 

 

Lickerish QuartetA panorama of the dungeon in 2019

 

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4. The Lickerish Quartet – Stairway

 

 

Frank Wolff

 

Frank WolffA different statue now stands in the same spot

 

Lickerish QuartetThe staircase in 1969

 

Lickerish QuartetThe same staircase in 2019

 

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5. The Lickerish Quartet – The Yellow Room scenes

 

 

Silvana VenturelliThe corner of the Yellow Room in ‘The Lickerish Quartet’

 

Silvana VenturelliThe corner of the Yellow Room in 2019

 

Silvana Venturelli

 

Silvana Venturelli

 

 

 

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6. The Lickerish Quartet – The Corridor

 

 

 

Erika Remberg

 

 

Lickerish QuartetThe corridor in ‘The Lickerish Quartet’

 

Lickerish QuartetThe corridor in 2019

 

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7. The Lickerish Quartet – The Main Ballroom

 

Lickerish QuartetErica Remberg sits in front of the unique wallpaper in the Ballroom

 

Lickerish QuartetThe same wallpaper still exists in 2019

 

Radley MetzgerThe Ballroom – prepared for a film screening – in ‘The Lickerish Quartet’

 

Radley MetzgerThe Ballroom – prepared for a recital – in 2019

 

Radley Metzger

 

Radley Metzger

 

Radley Metzger

 

Radley Metzger

 

Radley MetzgerThe main fireplace in the ballroom in 2019

 

Radley MetzgerThe main fireplace in the ballroom in ‘The Lickerish Quartet’

 

Frank Wolff

 

 

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8. The Lickerish Quartet – The Bedroom

Frank Wolff

 

Frank Wolff

 

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9. The Lickerish Quartet – The Roof

 

Paolo Turco

 

Paolo Turco

 

Paolo Turco

 

Paolo Turco

 

 

Paolo Turco

 

 

Paolo Turco

 

Paolo Turco

 

Erika Remberg

 

Erika Remberg

 

 

Erika Remberg

]

Erika Remberg

 

Silvana Venturelli

 

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9. The Lickerish Quartet – Surrounding Vineyards

Lickerish Quartet

 

Lickerish Quartet

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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.

Il Boa Scarlatto

Mickey Hargitay

 

Mickey HargitayOne of the entrances to the castle in 1965

 

Mickey HargitayThe same door in 2019

 

Mickey HargitayThe main courtyard in 1965

 

Mickey HargitayThe main courtyard 54 years later

 

Bloody Pit of HorrorThe dungeon

 

Bloody Pit of Horror

 

Bloody Pit of HorrorThe main ballroom

 

Il boia scarlatto

 

Bloody Pit of HorrorThe main corridor

 

Bloody Pit of HorrorThe spiral staircase to the roof

 

Il boia scarlatto

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Postscript

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.)

Lickerish Quartet

 

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11 Comments

  1. Dantoni · June 30, 2019 Reply

    I love your work. Simply the best.

  2. Neil Thomas · June 30, 2019 Reply

    Please, please, please can you interview the wonderful Silvana Venturelli?!
    Only the Rialto could do this justice.

    Apart from that, I love this series on locations!

  3. GucciBagCarrier · June 30, 2019 Reply

    Another great entry!

    But hey, where have the Avon Films entires disappeared?

  4. Annette Heinz · June 30, 2019 Reply

    Thanks, April and Ashley! So, a private tour of a castle? Thankies for all the information you gather and share. Mwah 😘

  5. Richard · June 30, 2019 Reply

    It would be fantastic to own that historical masterpiece! I congratulate Rialto on another terrific presentation. You guys are amazing!

  6. Jeff · June 30, 2019 Reply

    I enjoy these film location articles. It is always interesting to see how a place changes or stays the same. A movie, after all, preserves a moment of time. Being a fan of Italian horror films, this article is of particular interest to me. I had recognized some of the areas of the castle, especially the door, in several films, and now I have a name to put to the place. Thank you, Rialto Report. Keep up the good work.

    One film not mentioned in the list is Kill, Baby, Kill. The spiral staircase was used to great effect in that film. I am not sure if any other scenes for it were shot at the castle, though.

    Would anybody happen to have any information about the location used for the nunsploitation films Behind Convent Walls and Images in a Convent? It is a very striking building.

  7. J. Walter Puppybreath · July 1, 2019 Reply

    Meraviglioso!
    I love ‘Bloody Pit Of Horror’.

  8. David · July 2, 2019 Reply

    Super cool article you guys…..I think your list of films could be extended a lot….lots of 60s horror films made there. I was planning on a visit this Fall, so was a bit disappointed to hear that it is closed now. Hard to believe that the Italian gov wouldn’t buy and preserve given it’s central role in Euro film history.

  9. Yizmo Gizmo · July 6, 2019 Reply

    Wow, Mickey Hargitay. I wonder what his supercop daughter Mariska would think of this stuff.
    Would probably request an interrogation and a DNA sample…

  10. IluvTO · July 6, 2019 Reply

    How about am interview with the Vanessa Del Rio of Euro porn Teresa Orlowski?

  11. –E– · July 11, 2019 Reply

    AWESOME POST! I love that film and I love the Castello di Balsorano. April and TRR have done it again. Kudos!

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