Monday, January 29, 2024



Vinegar Syndrome's partner label Deaf Crocodile has been doing a stellar job of restoring obscure cinema from around the world (e.g. SOLOMON KING, SAMPO, et al.), and one of their latest titles is a little Czech number called THE MYSTERIOUS CASTLE IN THE CARPATHIANS. Loosely based upon a Jules Verne novel, this difficult-to-categorize film has been given a great release from the fledgling boutique label. Along with the much-touted restoration, there's also a pretty good number of bonus features included on this release! Let's pull out our collective magnifying glasses and take a closer look at this one Vault Dwellers!

Synopsis: A unique and almost indescribable mix of Gothic fiction, steampunk gadgetry (designed by Czech animation wizard Jan Švankmajer), slapstick comedy and romantic opera, director Oldřich Lipský's wonderfully bonkers delight has elements of THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS, Terry Gilliam, Mel Brooks and "The Benny Hill Show." Based on an 1892 Jules Verne novel The Carpathian Castle (which partially inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula), the film follows Count Teleke of Tölökö (Michal Dočolomanský) on the trail of the count's lost lover, opera singer Salsa Verde (Evelyna Steimarová) – only to discover she's been abducted by fiendish Baron Gorc of Gorceny (Miloš Kopecký), whose castle home is filled with the bizarre inventions of mad scientist Orfanik (Rudolf Hrušínský).

Littered with puns, sight gags and non-sequiturs – "Later, in Werewolfston", an invented dialect, a detached golden ear for eavesdropping, a staff topped by an enormous TV eyeball – MYSTERIOUS CASTLE was the third fantastical film from the team of director Lipský and writer Jiří Brdečka after their much-loved musical western spoof LEMONADE JOE (1966) and their detective/horror satire ADELA HAS NOT HAD SUPPER YET (1977), both major Czech cult hits. (Note that actor Miloš Kopecký and Jiří Brdečka worked on the supernatural anthology PRAGUE NIGHTS, also released by the Národní filmový archív, Deaf Crocodile, and Comeback Company.)

Disc Specs:
Not Rated | Color | 98 minutes | Region A
Video - 1080p (1.37:1)
Audio - Czech LPCM 2.0 (w/ English subtitles)


  • NEW! Restoration of the film by Craig Rogers for Deaf Crocodile!
  • NEW! Video interview with Czech film critic and screenwriter Tereza Brdečková on her father, Jiří Brdečka, writer of MYSTERIOUS CASTLE. (In English)
  • NEW! Essay by film historian and expert on Eastern European cinema Jonathan Owen
  • NEW! Audio commentary by Tereza Brdečková and Czech film expert Irena Kovarova of Comeback Company.
  • Two eerie and stunningly beautiful Jiří Brdečka animated short films:
    • Vzducholoď a láska (Love and the Dirigible) (1948, 9 min.)
    • Třináctá komnata prince Měděnce (Prince Copperslick aka Prince Měděnec's Thirteenth Chamber) (1980, 9 min.)
  • UNIVERSUM BRDEČKA (2017, 84 min., dir. Miroslav Janek) - A feature length documentary on the life and career of filmmaker, animator, screenwriter and illustrator Jiří Brdečka, covering his childhood, his work as a screenwriter with Jiří Trnka, Karel Zeman and Oldřich Lipský, and his own acclaimed work as an animator and director. In Czech with English subtitles.

Reviews seem overly positive about the film itself ('s review called it a "laugh riot"), and the restoration work done by Deaf Crocodile is reportedly top-notch, so this is looking like another win for them! For titles like this, I typically adopt a "try before you buy approach" these days (especially with the skyrocketing price boutique Blu-ray releases) but if you've been keeping pace with Deaf Crocodile up to this point, and enjoy eccentric international cinema, this will definitely be a must-own for you! THE MYSTERIOUS CASTLE IN THE CARPATHIANS arrives on Blu-ray tomorrow (January 30th!) and should cost between $21 - $30! Order a copy today from AMAZON, BULL MOOSE, DIABOLIK DVD, VINEGAR SYNDROME, or directly from DEAF CROCODILE!

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