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Mr. Sardonicus (Sous-titres français) [Import]

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ronald Lewis, Audrey Dalton, Guy Rolfe, Oskar Homolka, Vladimir Sokoloff
  • Directors: William Castle
  • Writers: Ray Russell
  • Producers: William Castle, Dona Holloway
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • Release Date: March 12 2002
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00005V4XF
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Product Description

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

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The masked Baron Sardonicus has quite a few skeletons in his closet, and one in particular he keeps in a room in his isolated, gloomy Slavic castle. And that's only part of it. Mr. S's face is frozen into a hideous grin, so socializing is, well, kind of awkward, and his table manners are appalling, making it necessary to take his meals in his room. Sardonicus is also a very cruel man, feared and hated by all, including his lovely English wife, Maude. His affliction is due to a very traumatic experience some years before, and now he seeks a cure. A renowned English physician is called for, and by coincidence, was a former flame of Maude's. Ah, the wheels of melodrama start a-turnin'!
"Mr. Sardonicus" was penned by Ray Russell, who adapted his novella for the screen. The film was directed by gimmickmeister William Castle, who came up with the "Punishment Poll". The "Punishment Poll" was an audience participation shtick in which viewers could decide whether it would be "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" for the wicked Mr. Sardonicus. Of course, no one but the extremely fickle would vote "thumbs up", so the "happy" ending (did it ever really exist?) was never seen. The film is a lot of fun (hey, it's William Castle), and the performances are first-rate. Guy Rolfe is actually quite charming as the wretched Sardonicus, and handsome Ronald Lewis and lovely Joan Bennett lookalike Audrey Dalton are stoically appealing as Sir Robert and Maude. Erika Peters is a hoot as Sardonicus' late, money-hungry first wife (before he hit the jackpot-with-a-price), and, of course, the great Oscar Homolka as "Krull". Krull is Sardonicus' sinister and loyal handyman.
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Format: DVD
You can say what you want about horror film producer William Castle. Go ahead, call him a hack, call him a B-movie mogul, call him a gimmick-grabber. But I'll bet he had a lot of fun making movies like 'Mr. Sardonicus.' I know I had a lot of fun watching it.
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
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Format: DVD
I organized a screening of this film for a college audience several years ago... everyone left with permanent smiles on their faces, due to the hilarious melodrama and sadistic nature of this early '60s chestnut.
Mr. Sardonicus is filthy rich, but has paid a price for his wealth with a mysterious facial disfigurement. He resorts to obscuring his (presumably) hideous, ugly mug behind a creepy mask, and residing in a lofty castle in the middle of nowhere. Believing his disfigurement is somehow reversible, he tests the limits of human endurance by torturing everyone in his immediate vicinity in order to contrive a remedy for his tragic condition. His wife, who remains in the loveless marriage out of fear of her crazed husband, enlists the assistance of an old friend: a physician who has made some remarkable breakthroughs with patients suffering from paralysis. One comes to discover, over the course of a new battery of treatments, how Sardonicus acquired his horrible disfigurement - and why exactly he's become such a flamboyant misanthrope.
This film was another staging opportunity for director William Castle's penchant for gimmickry... this time around, Castle concocted THE PUNISHMENT POLL. Moviegoers were issued small glow-in-the-dark cards, featuring a fist with thumb outstretched. In the tradition of the Roman arenas, where the audience decided whether a vanquished gladiator should live or die, Castle supposedly let the attendees of the film decide the fate of Mr. Sardoncius. Should one pick MERCY (thumb up) or NO MERCY (thumb down) after witnessing the trials of this ruthless rogue? Allegedly, the movie theater manager would tabulate the votes (in the dark, no less - hence, the G-I-T-D cards) and screen the ending of the film the majority of the audience voted for.
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