Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 15th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1962
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Pío Ballesteros, Juan Cobos, Jesús Franco, Gonzalo Sebastián de Erice
Cast: Howard Vernon, Hugo Blanco, Gogó Rojo, Fernando Delgado, Paula Martel, Ana Castor
BluRay released: June 9th, 2015
Approximate running times: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD Mono French
BluRay Release: Kino Lorber / Redemption Films
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.95
The cinematographer on The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus was Godofredo Pacheco (The House That Screamed, Assignment Terror). He would collaborate with Franco on four other occasions, The Awful Dr. Orlof, Rififí en la ciudad and two shorts films, El árbol de España and Oro español. Another key collaborator on The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus was composer Daniel White (The Diabolical Dr. Z, Female Vampire) in his first of many collaborations with Franco.
The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus a film that was made between The Awful Dr. Orlof and Dr. Orloff’s Monster, during Franco’s brief Gothic Horror period of his career. Besides its Gothic leanings, another area where this film owes a great debt are the German Krimi films from the 1960’s, which have been often cited as a clear influence on what would become the giallo genre. There is a scene in The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus where a black gloved killer uses a hat and clothe over their face to hide their identity. Also in this moment the killer uses a knife to caress and toy with his victim. This scene has all the hallmarks that have since become synonymous with the giallo genre.
Narrative wise The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus takes a familiar trip down murders lane as there are a few timed red herrings along the way before the killers’ identity is finally exposed. Also pacing wise things take a moment to settle in, fortunately once this film hits its stride all these issues are all but forgetting as things move along at a brisk moment.
Even early on in his career Franco shows a strong sense of visual style as he uses the black and white cinematography to its full effect. Whether it be shots of near empty streets at night of other scenic landscapes. Franco is not the type of filmmaker who would just throw away a shot.
Also besides the aforementioned giallo inspired scene, another standout moment visually is a scene where the killer, now unmasked brings a woman back to his dungeon. From there the film finally lives up to its names as it takes on a more sadistic tone where said killer turns his moment into seduction into something one would expect from Marquis De Sade.
From a performance standpoint there are two actors that carry this film. The first one being Hugo Blanco in the role of Ludwig von Klaus and the other being Howard Vernon (The Blood Rose) in the role of Max von Klaus, Ludwig’s father. The film does a superb job exploiting both actors brooding performances by keeping you guessing which one of them might be carrying on the family curse.
There are many faces of Jess Franco the filmmaker. He had long career that spanned seven decades and covered every film genre. And yet when discussing his films one often gets a strange look like are we talking about the same guy. With a lot of the misconceptions about his cinema having more to do with the fact that it would be futile categorize his output as a filmmaker into an easily defined term.
With that being said, it is always refreshing revisiting the origins of a filmmakers career. And in regards to The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus it is a well-made thriller that foreshadows many themes that would dominate Franco’s cinematic output.
The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Though the image lacks stability and there are some moments where the image looks too soft, most notably a reinstated sequence that was originally deemed X Rated. This scene which lasts about three minutes obviously comes from a lesser source. Now for the good in regards to this transfer, contrast and black levels look consistently strong and details generally look crisp. There are no issues with compression and print debris is minimal. Also when compared to Images DVD there is marked improvement in when it comes to image clarity and shadow detail.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in French and also included with this release are removable English subtitles. There are few minor instances of where the audio sounds distorted and there is background hiss that varies in degree throughout. Also dialog is always clear and everything sounds balanced and the film’s score sounds appropriately robust.
Extras for this release include are limited to a trailer for the film (4 minutes 7 seconds, in French with English subtitles). Overall The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus gets a strong audio / video presentation from Redemption Films.
Note: This film is also being released by Kino Lorber / Redemption Films on DVD.