William Castle Double Feature: Homicidal/Mr. Sardonicus [Blu-ray]

Two screamers from horror showman extraordinaire and king of the gimmicks William Castle. In Homicidal, a crafty lady murderer ($Jean Arless) uncovers a shocking family secret. And in Mr. Sardonicus, Gorslavian nobleman Sardonicus (Guy Rolfe) tells the story of how a botched exhumation led to the horrifying grin frozen on his face.
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Overview

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4.5
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Synopsis

Mr. Sardonicus
In this 1961 William Castle film based on Ray Russell's novel Sardonicus, Guy Rolfe stars as the wicked Sardonicus, a wealthy count who wears a mask because his face is frozen in a horrifying death grimace. Ronald Lewis stars as Sir Robert Cargrave, a brilliant doctor who is at the top of his field in the early 20th century. A curious letter from his former love, Maude (Audrey Dalton), draws him to Europe where she lives in a remote castle with her brooding husband, his badly scarred, but dedicated man-servant, Krull (Oscar Homolka), and a frightened housekeeper whom Sir Robert finds tied up and covered with leeches. The good doctor soon discovers the truth behind the leeches...and the true nature of his visit when Sardonicus reveals his terrible story: He dug up his father's grave in search of a winning lottery ticket, and upon seeing the corpse, his face muscles froze leaving him looking like a living skull. Dangling Maude as his ransom, Sardonicus forces Sir Robert into attempting a radical treatment to make his face normal again, but even when it is a success, the evil Sardonicus can find no cure from the curse of his father's desecrated corpse. Castle appears in the climax to offer viewers an opportunity to afford additional punishment on Sardonicus which leads to a satisfying conclusion. ~ Patrick Legare, Rovi

Homicidal
Homicidal represents producer/director William Castle's slant on Hitchcock's Psycho. The film concerns a young woman named Miriam Webster (Patricia Breslin) who seemingly has everything a girl could want - including a successful flower shop business, and a handsome beau, Karl (Glenn Corbett), who works as a pharmacist. Events take a turn for the worse, however, when Miriam's half-brother, Warren, returns from Europe - with a rather unpleasant friend in-tow: a blonde named Emily (Jean Arless). Emily promptly sets about destroying Miriam's life: the newcomer attempts to wheedle Karl away from Miriam, then rips the flower shop to pieces, then ultimately reveals a little taste for knife-wielding that directly threatens Miriam's safety. Like The Tingler and other Castle outings, this one originally featured a gimmick, preserved in the video release: a "fright-break" just prior to the climax, which allowed terrified audience members approximately 45 seconds to get out of their seats and leave the theater - to avoid the prospect of being "frightened to death." One look at Jean Arless's credit in the cast listing betrays the final twist in this one, directly (and unapologetically) lifted by Castle from Psycho. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Guy Rolfe
    Guy Rolfe - Sardonicus
  • Audrey Dalton
    Audrey Dalton - Maude Sardonicus
  • Oscar Homolka
    Oscar Homolka - Krull
  • Ronald Lewis
    Ronald Lewis - Sir Robert Cargrave
  • Vladimir Sokoloff
    Vladimir Sokoloff - Father

Overall Customer Rating

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