The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus (1962)
Director: Jess Franco
Starring: Howard Vernon, Hugo Blanco & Gogo Robins
Released by: Redemption
Reviewed by David Steigman
When one thinks of Euro-sleaze, most die-hard fans of this genre will immediately think of the one and only Jess (Jesus) Franco. He was the master filmmaker for Euro-Sleaze movies, which were often eclectic with many ladies often appearing nude in his films. During the early 1960s, when Franco had started to direct some period black and white, Gothic films including The Awful Dr. Orlof, there was always a little touch of his groundbreaking style including some nudity and sadism. The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus, Franco’s second horror film, was another step closer to the type of films most Franco aficionados are familiar with.
The story of The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus concerns women who are being stabbed to death in a European village by an unseen killer. Many of the residents there strongly believe it’s the ghost of Baron Von Klaus, a sadist (hence the title Sadistic) from the 17th Century who brutalized women. They feel his spirit lives on within his modern day relatives. The film turns into a creepy mystery as the villagers try to discover who has the spirit of Baron Von Klaus within him. Appearing sinister and strongly resembling the baron based on a picture on the wall in the Von Klaus castle, Max Von Klaus (Howard Vernon) becomes the main red herring of the film. Ludwig, played by Hugo Blanco, also has a key role in the movie as a pianist and the son of Baron Von Klaus. The film does have one really powerful scene for its time which eventually became a Jess Franco trademark where a woman, Margaret, played by Gogo Robins gets stripped, molested, whipped and chained up by the killer. This one scene alone really makes the picture; otherwise, it is an at times tedious film with some musical numbers. The crisp black and white cinematography also helps the viewing experience as it captures the atmosphere found in many international films from the period. Ultimately, Franco achieves a very creepy, artistic and yet, slow paced movie.
Redemption has released The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus in a beautiful 1080p AVC encoded letterboxed transfer. Outstanding and sharply detailed, black levels are strong as are whites while, film grain is present throughout. The audio is a robust LPCM 2.0 in its original French language. What really stands out in the audio are all the musical numbers with the piano. Since the movie was never dubbed into English, there are very easy to read English subtitles on this release. No extras are included on this release.
Fans of Jess Franco should not pass up this film in their collection. It’s a chance to see his early work which is atmospheric, stylish and with a small touch of the Franco sleaze that he would become renowned for.