6 February 2010 | Witchfinder-General-666
Creepy and Delightfully Macabre Early Franco
Too often is the prolific Spanish Exploitation-deity Jess Franco dismissed as a producer of nothing but sleazy trash. Fact is that the man's impressive repertoire of over 190 films, especially his earlier work, includes several creepy, elegant and downright brilliant films, such as "Gritos En La Noche" ("The Awful Dr. Orloff", 1962) and "Miss Muerte" ("The Diabolical Dr. Z.", 1966), just to name the two most outstanding examples. While "La Mano De Un Hombre Muerto" aka. "The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus" of 1962 is not nearly as great as the aforementioned two film, it is yet another good example for the stylish creepiness of Franco's early Horror films, and the man's well-deserved status as a pioneer of European Exploitation cinema.
"The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus" is set in a German village the residents of which are still haunted by its past. Once, their ancestors had suffered from the evil deeds of a sadistic Baron, who terrorized the area. When a young girl gets brutally murdered, the first suspect is the Baron's descendant (Howard Vernon), who happens to be the spitting image of his murderous ancestor...
Franco creates a morbid and creepy atmosphere by employing the typically elegant black-and-white cinematography, eerie settings and macabre set-pieces of his early films. Most of the film is set in gloomy alleys, a dark forest, Gothic castles, tombs and other eerie places. Franco also delivers pioneering Sleaze - the film features female nudity as well as sadistic sexual perversions, which was not exactly the norm in 1962. Franco once again employs the great Howard Vernon, the most regular leading-man of his early films and a true master of sinister roles. The film drags a tiny bit in the middle, but the second half is truly intense. Overall, Franco's second Horror film is not as essential as the masterpiece "The Awful Dr. Orloff", which was released shortly before, but definitely a very good Horror film and early Euro-Exploitation effort that my fellow Franco-fans can not afford to miss. 7.5/10.