Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
A search for a winning lottery ticket in his dead father's grave causes Sardonicus' face to freeze in a horrible grimace, until he forces a doctor to treat his affliction--with even more grotesque results!
For more about Mr. Sardonicus and the Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray release, see Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 22, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ronald Lewis, Audrey Dalton, Guy Rolfe, Oskar Homolka, Vladimir Sokoloff, Erika Peters
Director: William Castle
» See full cast & crew
Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray Review
It doesn't come with the "punishment poll" card. Thumbs down. No Mercy!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 22, 2013
An old fashioned story full of gallantry, graciousness, and ghouls.
Curses can be ugly things, and when combined with an unimaginable lust for money -- and going to ghoulish extremes to get it -- expect something really nasty to happen. Mr. Sardonicus hails from a simpler time for Horror, a time when slow reveals, thick atmospheres, cheesy dialogue, and over-the-top performances dominated the landscape, not simple blood and guts but real, genuine terror. At least most of the time. Mr. Sardonicus isn't really all that terrifying, largely because it's wholly unbelievable. There's no real catch, few scenes of any real urgency, and a resolution that's a little too cleverly simple for its own good. Yet it's absolutely a product of its era, complete with silly Twilight Zone-inspired narrated bookends and a "punishment poll" at the end in which Director William Castle pretends to scan the audience, totaling the number of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" votes to either show the villain mercy or throw him to the proverbial wolves. It's a movie in rather good taste considering its genre, offering mostly clean fun, and it probably worked a little better back in the day when audiences (and reviewers) weren't so desensitized to cinema terror.
Dr. Robert Cargrave (Ronald Lewis) is one of London's most accomplished physicians. Working in the late 1800s, he finds himself on the cutting edge of medicine and technological breakthroughs. In fact, he's just received one of the first syringes with a hypodermic needle capable of delivering medicines directly into the bloodstream. That same day, he receives from a frightening one-eyed man an urgent letter from a long-lost love, Maude (Audrey Dalton), calling him to the Sardonicus estate, nestled in the darkest reaches of central Europe. He leaves posthaste and finds her married to the mysterious Baron Sardonicus (Guy Rolfe), a man who mysteriously wears a mask when he's not locked away in his secret room. Cargrave finds the house's maidservant a victim of medical malpractice, and she warns him of the evil deeds within the mansion's walls. Cargrave soon learns the purpose for his visit: Sardonicus has become permanently disfigured, the result of a shock to the system so severe that it's left his face hideously deformed. The disfigured Sardonicus has called upon London's finest medical doctor to cure him of his ails, and he's prepared to go to any lengths to get what he wants.
Mr. Sardonicus oozes classic stylings. There's the foggy streets; the dark, dense, foreboding foliage; big screams; and "shocking" reveals. It's a film with some legitimately creepy moments, albeit moments that come too few and too infrequent. Nevertheless, the slower pace doesn't always hurt the movie; on the contrary, it allows for some solid character development and a deeper understanding of the world around Sardonicus, both his past and present. The perspective -- through the eyes of the good Dr. Robert -- feels a little unimaginative, but it's the best style for a movie of this sort, Cargrave kind of like the Jonathan Harker of the story, the outsider coming into a frightening new central European world. Indeed, the movie does have its moments when it feels like little more than a relaxed and, admittedly, drastically re-imagined Dracula, but basic pieces certainly favor the comparison. The picture's simple premise is just good enough to drag the movie along comfortably enough, dotted with a little bit of intrigue here and there -- what's so urgent that a doctor of Robert's caliber must travel so far, what's under Sardonicus' mask, why does he wear the mask, and can Robert's techniques save him -- that does keep the audience guessing all the way through to the rather anticlimactic conclusion.
Of course, the film plods along through some unintentionally humorous bits, some overacting, a few spot where it stretches credibility even under the guidelines of the absurd premise. The picture languishes in basic dialogue and suffers through some terribly stilted moments, such as when Sardonicus defines and defends the severity of the word "ghoul," making use -- verbatim -- of the same dictionary definition Director William Castle uses in his opening audience-directed monologue. The film uses the bulk of its middle stretch to fill in Sardonicus' backstory with an extended flashback sequence that's in many ways neither here nor there, particularly considering the dissatisfying conclusion, or at least the first conclusion prior to the "thumbs up/thumbs down" audience poll gimmick (and there's only one result). On the plus side, the Sardonicus makeup is thoroughly satisfying. It's a shame the audience doesn't see more of it, though certainly there's something to be said for the "less is more" approach, and the film never does feel any less complete for its reluctance to focus in on the grisly mug any more than it does. Ronald Lewis and Guy Rolfe deliver satisfying performances, certainly a little stiff and formal to be sure but they work in tandem to give the movie another layer of unease in the sometimes nonchalant way they go about their business, Lewis in his coping with the realities of life at the Sardonicus estate, application of massage therapy to his disfigured captor, and work in cutting-edge medicine and Rolfe in his abilities as gracious host, demanding patient, and morally dubious warden.
Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray, Video Quality
The black-and-white Mr. Sardonicus doesn't represent the finest in colorless Blu-ray goodness, but the transfer is surprisingly stout and probably better than what fans might have reasonably expected of an old title on budget Blu-ray. It doesn't start too promisingly, though, showing some pale blacks and poor gradation between shades of gray, resulting in some blocky, clumpy backdrops in the London exteriors. Once the action shifts to Dr. Cargrave's office, it tightens up nicely and hardly ever lets up, save for a few more unsightly outdoor shots. The image proves very stable and nicely defined, whether primary elements, such as character and clothing details, or background elements that retain a sharpness and accuracy all around the frame. The interior of the Sardonicus mansion is also prime real estate for picturesque details; both the open, inviting, nicely appointed living areas and the grimy, rougher textured "torture chamber" area both reveal excellent details. The transfer also shows off the well done and largely seamless Sardonicus makeup, a real pleasure in those shots in which it's visible for more than a second or so of screen time. Generally, the print looks clean, with light grain intact. However sporadic pops and speckles do appear, usually infrequently but spiking occasionally. All in all, this is a solid presentation from Mill Creek.
Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Mr. Sardonicus features a terribly bland DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless soundtrack that should be the poster child for "lifeless." Certainly this is no multi-million dollar production with A-grade sound design, so the boring presentation can certainly be understood in context. It's puny and utterly unconvincing at all times, save for dialogue. The spoken word comes through with commendable evenness and accuracy, but forget much of anything more. Music plays with no range beyond the center, ditto any of the few sound effects scattered throughout, such as a ringing bell on a ship and a "rumbling" locomotive that ambles "through" the stage. There's no clarity or oomph to any of the effects, and combined with zero range, the net result is a boring listen but one that doesn't really impede one's ability to enjoy the film, either.
Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of Mr. Sardonicus contains no supplemental content.
Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Mr. Sardonicus cannot claim to be the best, most frightening film of its era, but it's most certainly a fun, albeit at times a bit stiff, Horror/Thriller. It lacks the grisly scares of today but focuses more on character and plot than gore and atmosphere, a winning combination that makes even a film such as this that stretches genre credibility a fair, sometimes even fun, little excursion. Mill Creek's Blu-ray release of Mr. Sardonicus features very good video and unsurprisingly bland audio. Recommended at its budget pricing.
Blu-ray bundles with Mr. Sardonicus (1 bundle)
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to Mr. Sardonicus. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to Mr. Sardonicus in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray, News and Updates
No related news posts for Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray yet.
Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Mr. Sardonicus Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.