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Mr. Sardonicus (1962)

Edith Atwater , Ilse Burkert  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

Price: $26.35 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Mr. Sardonicus + 13 Ghosts + The Tingler
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Product Details

  • Actors: Edith Atwater, Ilse Burkert, Constance Cavendish, Albert D'Arno, Audrey Dalton
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Columbia / Tristar Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 12, 2002
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005V4XF
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,881 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mr. Sardonicus" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

William Castle's tribute to the gothic horrors of the 1930s is a ghoulish spin on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by way of Eyes Without a Face. The mysterious Baron Sardonicus (Guy Rolfe) lives in a lonely Central European castle, hiding his face behind a mask and his sadism behind aristocratic manners. Neither remains hidden for long as he pressures a London doctor (Ronald Lewis) into working miracles on his hideously disfigured face. Oskar Homolka steals the film as the Baron's loyal, long-suffering servant Krull, who wields surgical knives and slimy leeches in his reign of torture. Castle, less a stylist than a showman, has little feeling for mood but knows how to stage a shock and spring a gimmick, and this film features a doozy: the audience-participation "Punishment Poll," hosted by Castle himself in a clever (if improbable) break before the film's satisfyingly devious finale. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Good Gothic Fun! July 6, 2002
William Castle usually marketed his movies with gimmicks, and for MR. SARDONICUS the gimmick was "the punishment poll." When the film played in theatrical release, audience members were issued a voting card, and near the movie's conclusion Castle himself appeared on the screen and asked the audience to vote: show the card thumbs up to show mercy, thumbs down for none. Now, in theory, there were two different endings, and the ending shown depended on the audience vote--but no one ever saw the "show mercy" ending and it seems unlikely that it ever existed at all. And you certainly won't find it here: Sardonicus is punished every time.
For once Castle should have left well enough alone. The Punishment Poll is the only seriously weak thing in the entire film, which has a considerably better script and over-all better cast than most Castle outings. The story, which shows influences from everything from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to DRACULA to THE MAN THAT LAUGHED, concerns a grotesquely disfigured man who uses his wife to lure a noted specialist to his castle in the wilds of "Gorslavia"--and who then proceeds to make every one's life as miserable as possible, and that's throwing roses at it. Young women are molested, hung from the ceiling, nibbled on by leeches, and threatened with surgery designed to make them look as hideous as Sardonicus himself.
The cast is quite good, with Oskar Homolka a standout as Krull, Sardonicus' equally depraved servant. The lovely Audrey Dalton is also memorable as Sardonicus' unwilling wife. But the real star of the film is the make-up, which was quite famous in its day and is still capable of giving you a jolt. And along the way we're treated to a number of campy Castle florishes that add to the fun. But MR.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Baron is an unusual man, of unusual convictions." August 13, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
William Castle...producer, writer, director, and sometimes actor, but first and foremost a showman. All right...the man was a hack (in the kindest possible sense), pure and simple, often regarded as a Hitchcock imitator (he even adopted a number of Hitchcockian mannerisms like appearing briefly in his own movies, etc.), and his films maybe have not been of the highest caliber, but he knew how to draw in and entertain audiences by use of sometimes very clever gimmicks, at least in terms of his horror films of the 50s and 60s, and made going to the movies an interactive event, rather than a passive activity, ensuring those who came got their money's worth. While Mr. Sardonicus (1961) isn't my favorite Castle film (I've always been partial to House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler), it's still a lot of fun, especially if you're a fan of schlocky, sleaze-tinged, lurid spectacles like I am...written by Ray Russell (The Premature Burial, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes) and produced and directed by William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, 13 Ghosts), the film stars Guy Rolfe, whom I last saw in Ivanhoe (1952) as the evil Prince John, Audrey Dalton (The Monster That Challenged the World, Kitten with a Whip), Ronald Lewis (Taste of Fear), and Austrian born actor Oskar Homolka, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film I Remember Mama (1948)'ve come a long way since then, Babaloo...

The story begins in London, the year being 1880...Castle comes on the screen for a brief intro, which leads into our tale proper in that we meet Sir Robert Cargrave (Lewis), a young, prominent English physician who's done quite well for himself.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Willaim Castle costume romp! June 23, 2006
I watched "Mr Sardonicus" shortly after "I Saw What You Did", and I was relieved to see that William Castle hadn't sunk into comedy territory for this one. It's actually made earlier, around the same time as Castle's other most successful outings, although, this is one of his lesser known movies. "Sardonicus" is a period piece beginning with a successful young doctor, who recieves a cryptic letter from his former fiancee urging him to visit her and her mysterious husband Baron Sardonicus at their remote mansion somewhere in the middle of Europe. She hints that she is in some danger, and as she is the only woman he has ever loved, he drops everything and sets off immediately. When he arrives he finds that Sadronicus is more than just a little strange, in fact he rules over the household like a tyrant, and never appears in public without wearing a strange face mask...

Much of the film is very reminiscent of Roger Corman's "Fall of the House of Usher", although without the fabulous colour photography and on a much lower budget. Although Guy Rolfe (who plays Sardonicus) is no Vincent Price, he does a very good job of selling the character as thoroughly unwholesome and with a very cruel streak. What impressed me about the film is that it is surprisingly harsh in it's depiction of Sardonicus' sadistic past-times. He keeps a disfigured manservant as his most loyal servant, and together they devise cruel tortures which are carried out on the only other member of the household staff, a terrified maid. As well as this, Sardonicus lures girls from a nearby village to his mansion for some kind of peverted sexual desires which are never explained or depicted on the screen.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars So many plotholes you risk blowing a tire
Spoiler alert - don't read this if you want plot surprises.
The nasty doc and his wife don't get along well. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Spike3
5.0 out of 5 stars William Castle's Mr. Sardonicus
One of William Castles' BEST! Great story, great ending. I can remember seeing it in the theater and being issued a polling card for the ending of the movie.
Published 4 months ago by Ronald oleksiak
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than I remember...
My poor wife, who has to put up with watching my collection of B-horror movies from the mid 50s to mid 60s from time to time should really be the judge on this one. Read more
Published 5 months ago by RAM
5.0 out of 5 stars Major Masterpiece
I don't know why this film hasn't attracted more attention. The writing is out of this world good. The acting is the same. It's as perfect as any film you'll see. Read more
Published 6 months ago by hugh parker
5.0 out of 5 stars mr. sardonicus
a doctor receives a letter from a woman who he knew years ago. she is married to a man who wears a mask to hide his disfigured face and needs the doctor's help for her husband. Read more
Published 15 months ago by sjlennon
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual movie and good
I had seen this movie as a young girl and that's in the 50's and this was well done, for those days. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Joan Vincent
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction movies
I am very pleased with this DVD, especially because it was produced by William Castle. He put a lot of his own personal heart and soul into all the work he did.
Published 16 months ago by Kenneth M.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Classic
This is a wonderful film for all classic horror film lovers. Poignant, psychological insight into the power of guilt and greed.
Published 16 months ago by ruah albi
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting.....................
.....but that's a good thing! I love all of the William Castle films, but had never seen this one---heard lots about it, and that it used to scare my friends when they were little... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Rex Jacobsen
4.0 out of 5 stars do not covet
Second only to Roger Corman when it came to B movies, William Castle lets viewers "pick the ending" at the end of this tale of envy, greed, and lust.
Published 22 months ago by likes good books, music, movies
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