Mr. Sardonicus (Sous-titres français) [Import]
William Castle's tribute to the gothic horrors of the 1930s is a ghoulish spin on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by way of Eyes Without a Face. The mysterious Baron Sardonicus (Guy Rolfe) lives in a lonely Central European castle, hiding his face behind a mask and his sadism behind aristocratic manners. Neither remains hidden for long as he pressures a London doctor (Ronald Lewis) into working miracles on his hideously disfigured face. Oskar Homolka steals the film as the Baron's loyal, long-suffering servant Krull, who wields surgical knives and slimy leeches in his reign of torture. Castle, less a stylist than a showman, has little feeling for mood but knows how to stage a shock and spring a gimmick, and this film features a doozy: the audience-participation "Punishment Poll," hosted by Castle himself in a clever (if improbable) break before the film's satisfyingly devious finale. --Sean Axmaker
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Sir Robert Cargrave (Ronald Lewis) is a noted neurosurgeon who is summoned from England by her former lover Maude (Audrey Dalton) to a castle in Gorslava where she lives with her husband Baron Sardonicus (Guy Rolfe). The baron always wears a mask when he comes out of his room and eventually he tells Sir Robert the story of a lottery ticket and a ghoulish visit to a graveyard at midnight. Sardonicus wants Sir Robert to use his skills to cure his affliction, even if it means using new and untested methods to gain success, so that Maude, who was married off by her father to the baron, might finally love her husband. When Sir Robert balks at the idea, Sardonicus reveals an alternative plan for making the baroness more sympathetic to his condition.
"Mr. Sardonicus" has every single one of the traditional elements of a gothic horror story.Read more ›
In 1880, a famous London doctor is called to a creepy castle on an urgent mission. Sir Robert the doctor receives a letter from his former lover, now married to Count Sardonicus. She instructs the doctor to hurry; something terrible is about to happen.
Sir Robert arrives to find a strange castle occupied by a one-eyed servant named Krull, Sir Robert's beautiful former lover, and of course Count Sardonicus, whom we see introduced wearing a mask. Hmmmmmm. A creepy castle, a locked door, screams from remote parts of the castle, an eccentric Count in a mask...What OTHER cliches do we need?
Sure, the cliches are abundant and the sets are nothing to impress your friends with, but the acting is generally good. The story is not believable, but we pretty much know that going in. We don't expect much, but when we get to one of the film's several creepy moments, we feel as if we've gotten our money's worth. Plus the patented William Castle Gimmick is firmly in place: The Punishment Poll, in which audience members decide whether the villain receives mercy or more punishment. (Of course Castle only shot ONE ending. In the DVD extras we learn how ridiculous it would have been to shoot two endings, poll the audience, then send a message up to the projectionist's booth to tell him which reel to show for the ending. But it's still fun!)
'Mr. Sardonicus' is not a great horror film, but it doesn't really set out to be one. But it is a fun, campy, competent entry in the early 60's horror genre. I'll take it any day over 'Scream 5' or 'I Could Care Less What You Did Last Summer.'
89 minutes in glorious black and white
Most recent customer reviews
This is a very scary movie because of his face and his father's face!! so LOOK OUT!!Published on Sept. 16 2003 by Jed Kittelson
I am sorry, but this movie struck me as being incredibly boring! There are absolutely no surpises nor horrors in stock. Read morePublished on May 31 2003 by Mart Sander
Although this movie is not one of my all time favorites, I acknowledge that this movie has one of the most unforgettable endings you'll ever see. Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2003 by Minneserenity
This is an odd movie about a man who's face is frozen into a hideous grin after witnessing a traumatic shock. Read morePublished on Oct. 17 2002 by Mark Norvell
I always loved William Castle movies but I did not think this could be such a great release. I ordered and watched it with middle interest but after all I was fully satisfied. Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2002 by Dan Rexx
William Castle usually marketed his movies with gimmicks, and for MR. SARDONICUS the gimmick was "the punishment poll. Read morePublished on July 6 2002 by Gary F. Taylor
.... and definitely never marry a blonde babe if you're a Slavic peasant.
In the good old days (which weren't really that good), the only way you could catch a little-known... Read more
William Castle never fails to amuse and entertain. Wherever he falls short in production values or his choices of acting talent, he comes up with the most unique ideas. MR. Read morePublished on May 26 2002 by R. Gawlitta
Always loved William Castle movies. Watch this one some time late and night and in the right mood and you will thoroughly enjoy it. Read morePublished on May 15 2002 by KayCeeKay