Plot: What’s it about?
It seems as a curse from the distant past has begun to haunt the village of Holfen, as some young women have been found murdered. The instrument used is what appears to be an ancient dagger and this is what has spooked the locals. In the 17th century, a man called Baron von Klaus was a sadistic fellow who countless women fell prey to, meeting their death at his hands. His reign of terror ended when he died in the swamps near his castle, but he left behind the promise of a curse, to be visited upon the residents. So now the locals are worried, since more young women have been killed in the same fashion. The obvious solution would be to investigate the Baron’s descendants, but the current Baron is Max (Howard Vernon), who has a solid alibi and his nephew Ludwig (Hugo Blanco) arrived just after the most recent attack. Ludwig has returned to pay his respects to his mother, who is near death and has little time left. She hands him the key to the former Baron’s torture chamber and asks him to open it & demolish it, which would end the legacy once and for all. But will he be able to do so, or will his past take control of his future?
A fine addition to Image’s Euroshock Collection, this release marks the first time this film has been issued in America. Although some of director Jess Franco’s efforts have become well known over time, The Sadistic Baron von Klaus is not too famous, at least not outside of the exploitation fanbase circles. I found this to be much of what I expected, very dark & atmospheric and of course, with some nice visual touches scattered about. Much like Franco’s The Awful Dr. Orlof, this one is quite well made and while it has some elements of exploitation, don’t expect a tidal wave of blood and naked women here. You’ll see some flesh though, as this is a Franco film and he loved to showcase the female form, as we all know. I was not sure of what to expect from this one, but I was pleased with the results and will be adding The Sadistic Baron von Klaus to my own collection, without a doubt. Perhaps not the shocking experience some folks are looking for, but the movie has some good tension and is a more than solid thriller. I recommend this to all those interested and even if you’re not a frequent Franco fan, this one is well worth a look.
He has been involved in hundreds upon hundreds of feature films, spanning countless genres and such, but director Jess Franco is best known for his exploitation work. As he often pushed the limits of what could be shown, from nudity to blood and beyond. I think he was most liberal with the naked ladies however, as a great number of his film feature parades of them, some even have alternate hardcore sequences. But just because he liked to show some flesh doesn’t mean he is a bad filmmaker, as Franco’s film often have a lot of style, visual flair, and high entertainment values. I don’t think he worries much about the stories in some cases, but the movies usually look good and have interesting moments, to say the least. Other films directed by Franco include Esmerelda Bay, Revenge in the House of Usher, Ilsa The Wicked Warden, Female Vampire, and Vampyros Lesbos. The cast here includes Howard Vernon (Black Sin, Zombie Lake), Turia Nelson (The Magnificent Three), and Hugo Blanco (Texas Adios, Dr. Orloff’s Monster).
Video: How does it look?
The Sadistic Baron von Klaus is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The image here is more than acceptable, but due to the ravages of time, the print used is in less than pristine condition. I saw only a few serious flaws however, so most of the problems are smaller ones, like simple flecks and some grain. On the whole, it looks as good, if not better than most low budget films from this era, so no reason for panic there. The contrast is smooth and well presented, no evidence of detail loss I could see, as black levels are clean and always accurate. As this is a low profile, low budget film from 1962, I am slanting my usual scale, as I am quite surprised the image looks as good as it does here.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono track is in French and sounds good, but I did notice some hiss at times. It never becomes extreme however, even when I turned the volume up beyond the needed levels, so no need for concern there. A few other age issues pop up, but this is still a solid mono option, given the nature and limits of the production involved. The vocals are clean and the other elements seem in fine form also, if a tad aged, as I mentioned before. This disc also includes optional English subtitles, should you need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes two minutes of alternate footage, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.