“In 1961, Louella Parsons tagged her ‘Girl of the Thrillers.' Somewhat later, Cinema magazine spoke of her ‘elegance,' ‘eroticism' and ‘voluptuous sadism.' British critic Raymond Durgnat described her as ‘bland on top and very, very kinky below,' adding, ‘She is the only girl in films whose eyelids can snarl.'
“Born in Ireland, brought up in England (where she attended Summerhill, the famous experimental school), Steele has been making films since 1958 - including featured performances in ‘serious' films like Fellini's 8-1/2 and Volker Schlondorff's Young Torless. But the Cult of Barbara Steele (which, it must be said, makes Steele very nervous) is based on a series of cheap (mostly Italian) horror films made during the '60s - Black Sunday, Castle Of Blood, The She Beast, The Horrible Secret Of Dr. Hitchcock, Pit And The Pendulum (directed by Roger Corman), and many more.
“If the films were simplistic (and the point is arguable), Steele was not; her screen presence was complicated, and disturbingly sexual. She seemed to have found a place inside herself where death, sex and terror informed one another. Her witches and vampires were attractive and intelligent - which made them very frightening. Most important, the camera loved her. Directors learned to light her face from below, turning her eyes and cheekbones magical. Her dark beauty transformed potboilers into cult classics.” Michael Goodwin