Friday, October 17, 2014

The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus, Possession Jesus Franco Style

One of the worst parts about visiting the dentist are the magazines in the reception area.  Dental schools must instruct future dentists to select only periodicals of absolutely no interest to their patients...but why?  Tennis monthlies, photography journals, and every child molester's favorite read..."Highlights," await us as we embark on these twice a year teeth cleaning adventures.  So, when we find a movie where the protagonist is a journalist for "Murderers and Maidens" magazine, and features a castle's torture chamber, and lots of doomed damsels....well...we know we have another Jesus Franco film.  1962's "The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus" (aka "La Mano de un Hombre Muerto"), made by Spain's famous horror director is our feature today.
Baron Von Klaus died 500 years ago.  In his time he abducted beautiful young women and subjected them to sexual torture before sacrificing them with an ancient dagger.  Over the centuries, these types of ritualistic killings re-occur, always withing a few miles of the Von Klaus castle.  The superstitious townspeople believe the ghost of the Baron rises from the nearby swamps to seek fair maidens.  Uh oh, the killings have begun again.  Max Von Klaus (Howard Vernon) is a grouchy eccentric who lives in the castle now.  His brother, the milquetoast wimp, Ludwig (Hugo Blanco), has just brought his beautiful fiance and potential future sacrificial meat, Karine (Paula Martel), to visit.  Also arriving in town is Karl (Fernando Delgado, pictured above), who intends to investigate the legend and the recent murders.  The castle borders the atmospheric Gothic town of Holfen, and it's main pub is stalked with buxom bar-maidens...or shall we say future subjects of some evil ritualistic rite?
Initially Ludwig (pictured above) comes across as a loser, dating way out of his league.  When he begins spending all of his free time in his ancestor's basement/torture chamber, we the viewer wonder when beautiful Karine will wise up and give him the "I love you, but I'm not in love with you..." speech.  At the pub, both Linda (Ana Castor) the proprietress, and Margaret (Gogo Rojo, sadly, she is also pictured in the top photo) will continually make really stupid decisions that put themselves in the cross-hairs of the killer.  As evidence mounts suggesting Max is the killer, the babes of Holfen let their guard down.  After a sultry songstress is murdered in her hotel room, Max is arrested.  When the murders continue, Karl discovers some revealing clues and races to the Von Klaus castle to find Karine (pictured below), but is it too late?  Finally, how can we get our dentists to stock their waiting rooms with "Murderers and Maidens" magazine?
Of course there will be a nail biting conclusion that takes us into the Von Klaus torture chamber, and a really eerie ending.  The cinematography is stunning (black and white), and it intensifies the creepiness of this little seen Franco classic.  All the actresses are beautiful, and they play the naive damsels well.  Available on Netflix, this would be a terrific selection for your Halloween moviethon.   

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