Sunday, November 20, 2016

Mr. Sardonicus

Director - William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts)
Starring - Audrey Dalton (Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color), Guy Rolfe (Snow White and the Three Stooges), and Ronald Lewis (Warship)
Release Date - 1961
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "A man of evil...with a face that could stop your heart"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I was looking forward to this film but deep down I was not looking forward to it.  I had heard so much about this film and really looked forward to it.  Sadly, I knew that this film would be the last of my four film streak of William Castle flicks.  For years people have told me to check out Mr. Sardonicus because they knew how much I loved Castle.  Sadly, I never did.  Lucky for me, my friends over at Mill Creek Entertainment added as the second film in a double feature with Homicidal.  Once again, thanks for sending this one my way!
     The film follows Sir Robert Cargrave (Lewis) who receives a letter from an old flame.  Her father would not let her marry Robert and the two separated.  Now, she has taken the title baroness and he husband is a disfigured man who summoned Robert.  Robert is known the world over for his work with muscles and helping the crippled walking again.  When the Baron was younger his father won the lottery but was buried with the ticket.  He dig up his grave but once he opened the casket his saw his father's decayed face.  The site was so dreadful that it froze his facial muscles.  He wants Robert to help him regain his face or he will torture his former love.
     I had heard a lot of great things about Mr. Sardonicus but what I was told did not do this film justice.  House on Haunted Hill will always be my favorite William Castle film but this film is easily my second.  I was very surprised by what I saw.  The acting in this one is great.  Ronald Lewis was brilliant as Sir Robert Cargrave.  He was a very strong lead character that was very intelligent and caring.  Some careful thought was placed into bringing him onto the film.  Audrey Dalton did great as the baroness.  She was not overpowering and did not dominate her scenes.  She went along with the story and still gave the film's title character his space.  With that being said, I really enjoyed Guy Rolfe's performance.  He was great and brought a lot of personality to his character.  On top of that he had to redefine his character and portray him in a different manner.  In certain spots of the film he is able to interact with other characters in a more traditional sense with dialogue and conversation but once his character becomes disfigured he communicated with his body why the dialogue is voiceovered.  This is very tasking for an actor but he pulled it off.  The story for this one is a solid period piece that doesn't really offer up scares but does give us some great atmosphere and a story that we can not predict.  The film is slow paced but we get a lot of backstory and character development along the way.  This helps keep the viewer entertained without losing them.  Though the film is not chilling we still get some solid tension and a little suspense.  Finally, the film lacks on screen kills but has one of the best looking villains I have seen from this time period.  The effects are great and the Baron looks fantastic.  I can see people having nightmares after seeing this dude.  Overall, Mr. Sardonicus is an underappreciated masterpiece.  It may not be that embedded in horror but it still delivers.  Well worth the watch.

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