Baron Blood (1972)

“I would not play with the occult if I were you. One’s obsession with it can be the real danger.”

Baron Blood Poster

Synopsis:
A young nobleman (Antonio Cantafora) visiting his uncle (Massimo Girotti) enlists the help of a plucky architecture student (Elke Sommer) in bringing his infamous ancestor “Baron Blood” — who was cursed by a witch (Rada Rassimov) — back to life. A rash of hideous killings soon erupts, and Cantafora and Sommer try to reverse their error while warning the mysterious wheelchair-bound millionaire (Joseph Cotten) who has purchased the baron’s castle.

Genres:

Review:
Mario Bava was lured to Vienna to make this Gothic horror flick, which the New York Times referred to in its review as “spectral schlock”. As noted in Cathode Ray Tube’s detailed review, Bava draws upon many of his own previous works — as well as other horror favorites — in his imagery, which is consistently atmospheric and creative (see stills below). Unfortunately, the storyline leaves much to be desired: beginning with the two reckless would-be lovers stupidly messing with black magic time and again, we can’t help feeling like the entire narrative is simply an excuse to show off gory violence and impressive sets (most of the film was shot on location in the spooky Austrian castle Burg Kreuzenstein). Meanwhile, it’s a bit painful watching Cotten — third choice for the role after Vincent Price turned it down and Ray Milland was unavailable — mouth lines like: “Now you shall taste the pain — the exquisite agony!”, especially knowing that he for some reason omitted this title from the filmography in his autobiography.

Note: In his Cult Movies book, Peary refers to Baron Blood simply as “terrible”, lamenting the fact that Bava never made another film half as good as Black Sunday (1960).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine location shooting at Castle Kreuzenstein in Austria
    Baron Blood Sets
  • Atmospheric cinematography and direction
    Baron Blood Cinematography
    Baron Blood Cinematography2
    Baron Blood Cinematography3
    Baron Blood Cinematography4

Must See?
No; this one is only must-see for Bava fans, though the imagery is consistently haunting.

Links:

One Response to “Baron Blood (1972)”

  1. Not must-see.

    I’d seen this once before while living in Tokyo (‘thanks’ to my local video shop). I had no memory of the film itself, though. Small wonder.

    It’s kind of amateurish and silly horror, even as parts of it are fairly unpleasant. Cotten stalks a lot (or is weirdly cheerfully sinister in a wheelchair). Sommer screams a lot. There’s quite a bit of dumb dialogue (esp. about “tortured spirits”…if you like that sort of thing). …Meh.

    I don’t quite get why director Bava is held in such esteem among cult film enthusiasts. I mean I don’t get it…but I get it. You have to have a certain taste for this particular kind of thing. Myself, I was mostly bored.

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