Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

Easily the grisliest William Castle film of the initial four I’m working through, this feels at once like his take on Hammer horror and the Dracula mythos. In each subsequent film you can feel Castle pushing the envelope that little bit further with what he can get away with, while also pushing his own skills as a filmmaker. The gothic stylings and sadistic undertones are especially strong in Mr. Sardonicus even if the film’s dumbass plot and bland lead leave a lot to be desired not to mention the gimmicks, which are really starting to feel tired. None of Castle’s films lack a sense of play though, and they are all alive with a twisted and camp sense of humour that I really love. Oskar Homolka especially makes chewing gum out of the scenery. Visiting William Castle’s universe for the first time has been one of 2019’s great new-to-me pleasures, and as this is the final film in this particular box set I’m sad to leave it for a while, at least until I snap up Volume 2. Can’t wait.

Watched on Indicator blu-ray

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