Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, November 7, 2008


MR. SARDONICUS (1961). Director: William Castle.
 In the TV show Wiseguy, an entire story arc centered around a nutty guy who was obsessed with the film Mr. Sardonicus, and who ran screenings of it over and over again. That alone created a kind of mystique around the picture, which is based on a novella by Ray Russell, who also wrote the screenplay. Castle directed this film right after Homicidal, and introduces this movie as well. But the film is quite different, a rather intelligent Gothic horror story that is well-acted and has many fascinatingly macabre and ironic touches. A specialist named Robert Cargrave (Ronald Lewis of Scream of Fear) is importuned by an old girlfriend to come to her husband's castle with utmost speed. It appears that hubby, who has rechristened himself "Mr. Sardonicus" (Guy Rolfe) after a medical condition, is horribly disfigured and Cargrave is his last hope. Sardonicus is a cruel man, and Cargrave is to discover that his assignment is fraught with peril. Rolfe and Lewis are fine, but Oscar Homolka pretty much steals the picture as the sinister servant Krull, who always carries out Sardonicus' orders. Audrey Dalton as the bride of Sardonicus proves once again that she is a very uneven actress. Verdict: Good show! ***.

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