Baron Blood (1972)

Peter Kleist, an American student on holiday in Austria, wants to (and these are his exact words) "scare up some old family ghosts". Seems his ancestor, the notorious Baron Otto von Kleist, is still known in the vicinity as 'Baron Blood' - basically, he was Vlad the Impaler without any of Vlad's good qualities. Peter, being a moron, reads an incantation - twice - that will bring his infamous forebear back to life, then manages to burn the parchment containing the incantation that would send the walking corpse back to his grave. Soon the Baron is up to his old tricks, using the rusty old torture equipment in his dungeon and killing passers-by so he'll have someone to impale on his towers...

Though it's nowhere near as bad as in some other European horror films, you will soon find yourself wishing the zoom lens had never been introduced to the Continent. This is not one of Mario Bava's better movies, but it does have its moments. Unfortunately, those moments seem cribbed from other movies. There is a chase in the fog that is far too reminiscent of House of Wax, and the climax is straight out of Island of Lost Souls. Elke Sommers proves herself to be less than a world-class screamer; her screams of terror are more like barks of outrage.

The print employed is the usual fine source material we've come to expect from Elite Entertainment, with only some very occasional damage evident; there's also an abundance of grain in many scenes. None of these detract from Bava's usual fine compositions and use of color and light.

There is a theatrical trailer which has, as usual, fallen victim to the ravages of time; the fuzzy image and soft colors belie a videotape origin. "Cast Filmographies" only bothers with Elke Sommers and Joseph Cotten. A "Poster and Photo Gallery" travels at it's own rate, defying any attempts to pause, that one may savor any detail - a criminal method of doing things when Elite has blown up several passages of hyperbolic prose from the American poster and pressbook, and there is nowhere near enough time allowed to read any of them. How else can I learn to make the Baron Blood Cocktail? A Mario Bava Biography and Filmography round out the package. These are well written, and while necessarily brief, still seem quite complete; small wonder, as they are written by Video Watchdog and Bava enthusiast Tim Lucas.

Dr. Freex, 4/2/00

Running Time: 100 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Format: Widescreen 1:85:1
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 1
MSRP: $24.99

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