• Baron Blood



    Released by: Kino
    Released on: December 11, 2012.
    Director: Mario Bava
    Cast: Elke Sommer, Antonio Cantafora, Joseph Cotton
    Year: 1972
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    The Movie:

    BARON BLOOD belongs firmly in the middle of Mario Bava's Gothic filmography. Not quite as startling as BLACK SUNDAY or as avant-garde as LISA AND THE DEVIL it is nonetheless a gripping and fun yarn with a classic setting and excellent casting. Peter Kleist (Antonio Cantafora) has come to Austria to visit his uncle. The purpose of Peter's trip is to learn about an ancestor and he has come to see Uncle Karl who may have some information regarding the elusive Baron Otto Von Kleist. Shortly after his arrival, Peter meets lovely Eva (Elke Sommer from LISA AND THE DEVIL), a student. The two of them soon develop a mutual attraction and begin investigating the past of the shadowy Baron who was known and feared as a very evil man with rumored supernatural powers.

    The pair travel to the late Baron's castle where they find an ancient parchment which, when read aloud, can resurrect the evil Baron. Foolishly, they do this... and the fun really gets started. Seems the rotting Baron has some scores to settle and a pressing need for bloodshed. As the bodies of local handymen and other assorted locals start piling up in increasingly gruesome numbers our heroes must hatch a plan to stop him. To further complicate matters, the castle's new owner shows up (legendary Joseph Cotten of CITIZEN KANE). He seems nice enough, but, well, you never know.

    Drenched in fogbound atmosphere and garish colors that pop like a comic book BARON BLOOD is a great example of the candy-colored Bava "look" that marked films like HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD and DANGER: DIABOLIK. It's not as mean-spirited as RABID DOGS or BAY OF BLOOD but the kills are stylish and laced with black humor. Note the nod to the infamous Vlad The Impaler (the original model for Dracula) in a couple of very nasty murders. Bava takes great pains to make BARON BLOOD both a stylish "modern" film with its attention to the Austrian youth culture of the time but cleverly juxtaposes that with the overtly Gothic castle setting. The film's internal logic is pretty poor but the strength of the imagery carries the day. Bava often worked with either half-finished or confusing scripts and had to rely on his enormous gifts as a visual artist to make his films work as entertainment. That is very much the case here and the pacing of the killings and shocks is almost perfect. Bava seems to know that the audience has only so much patience for extended exposition. Performances are fine for the most part with pro Cotten being a standout.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Kino once again, much like with LISA AND THE DEVIL, delivers a solid transfer. While their work on BLACK SUNDAY was mildly disappointing, BARON BLOOD's AVC 1080p HD 1.78.1 transfer has a strong color palette with a lot of pop to the image. Sharpening, denoising and other digital manipulations are not present and the image has a very strong film like appearance. You will notice the occasional speck or scratch mark but the print used was in overall excellent shape. It is important to note the opening credits are in significantly rougher shape than the rest of the film however. As for the audio, it is a English LPCM 2.0 Mono track that is unremarkable in its efficiency. Dialog is clear, balance is good and the score sounds robust for a mono track. There are no subs or alternate audio tracks.

    For extras, we get two alternate sequences in Italian for both the opening and closing of the film that are of purely academic interest. We also get a fantastic Tim Lucas audio commentary. Anyone familiar with a previous Lucas Bava commentary track will know what they are going to get: an exhaustive history lesson on the film that never bores. He is especially knowledgeable about the physical craft involved in BARON BLOOD. Essential. Finally, we get some Kino/Bava trailers and BARON BLOOD radio promos.

    The Final Word:

    For Bava fans and those with a taste for Gothic charm and kitschy Austrian 70's youth culture or just lovers of a good classy but bloody horror film, BARON BLOOD is a winner. Not Bava's best but in his upper canon, BARON BLOOD is recommended. Kino has done another professional HD presentation and there are no complaints - it is worth picking up.