Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Blood Clot: "Baron Blood" (1972)

In Europe, Dr. Hummel (Massimo Girotti) meets his hunky nephew Peter (Antonio Cantafora) at the airport, and begin verbalizing one of the most inane horror scripts ever written (by Vincent Fotre).

Peter decides to do a little family history research, and he meets up with cutie restoration expert Eva (Elke Sommer) at the old ancestral castle. It was owned by a baron, known as the title, thanks to his penchant for torture in the dungeon and hanging impaled victims from the tower ramparts. Baron Blood was cursed by a witch, and sent to a very hot place run by a very red angry former angel, but Eva and Peter happen to have the witch's incantation to revive the Baron.

Incantated, the decomposing Baron wanders around the countryside, killing Austrians. As most of the supporting cast is dispatched by a caped figure with a broad brimmed hat, Eva and Peter cannot figure out how to get rid of him again. Their ancient parchment was accidentally torched. They go back to Dr. Hummel for help. Cue the mysterious Becker (Joseph Cotten) who swoops in and buys the castle, fixing it up and taking a special interest in Eva. With the help of clairvoyant Christina (Rada Rassimov), Hummel, Eva, and Peter tour Becker's castle, and defeat the baron.

Mario Bava is a cult icon in the world of Italian cinema, and this film proves why. He has some horrifying shots, the Baron is very scary. There are too many shots of Eva being chased, but enough creepy shots happen to make it entertaining. On the other hand, Elke Sommer. Elke is awful, overacting and constantly screaming at the slightest provocation- zombie or otherwise.

The script will have Eva running for her life one minute, then smooching with Peter the next, never keeping her in any sort of character. Many scenes here could have been cut, it is unbelievable that poor Joseph Cotten is not wheeled in until almost half way through. I forgot he was in the picture.

This is the ninety eight minute version of "Baron Blood," the film released in the U.S. was only ninety minutes. The added gore scenes are not all that spectacular, I have seen bloodier on "The X Files." Elite/Video Treasures has released this on video letterboxed, but the sound quality is awful. I kept having to max the volume out on my television trying to hear dialogue, only to be deafened by the silly European score.

All in all, if you are an Italian horror buff, you might take this out. Bava's direction is worth the price of rental. Just do not get this expecting a great work of literature. Once again, Bava outclasses his material. (* * *) out of five stars.