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  • In the village of Holfen, a number of young women are found stabbed to death by what is determined to be an ancient dagger with a curved and rusty blade . The superstitious locals believe the murders to be the fulfillment of a curse placed on them in the 17th century by Baron Von Klaus, a sadistic libertine who killed many women before dying in the swamps surrounding his castle. The Baron's spirit is said to live on in his male descendants, but Von Klaus heir Ludwig (Hugo Blanco) along with his girlfriend (Paula Martel) don't arrive in town until the day after the latest murder . He is entrusted with a key to his ancestor's torture dungeon and begged to bring an end to the family curse by visiting it, destroying it, and leaving the castle, never to return again. But will he have the willpower to resist the lure of his horrific heritage? . Meanwhile , Inspector Borowsky (Georges Rollin) investigates the strange murders along with a journalist (Fernando Delgado) . There are some suspects , as a doctor (Sergio Mendizabal) and a Baron Von Klaus's descendant called Max Von Klaus (Howard Vernon) .

    This average-budget film contains thrills , a criminal intrigue and lots of murders . It's a passable slasher movie directed by prolific filmmaker Jess Frank and also produced by his own production company, Manacoa Films along with Albatros SA . Here Franco manages to give us an adequate ambient , an evocative production design by Antonio Cortes , being rightly narrated , including a murder plot enough to keep you intrigued throughout the flick . Based on a story by David Khune or Jesus Franco and screenplay by Pio Ballesteros , Juan Cobos and by the same Jesus Franco or Uncle Jess . The picture was well starred by good Spanish actors , such as Fernando Delgado , Paula Martel , Gogo Rojo and Hugo Blanco , who subsequently worked for Jesus Franco in "The Secret of Dr. Orloff" . And of course , Howard Vernon , Jess Frank's usual , ordinarily playing Dr. Orloff . The Spanish support cast is frankly fine as Sergio Mendizabal , Maria Frances , Jose Luis Coll and the great Manuel Alexandre , among others . The picture belong to Franco's first period in which he made acceptable pictures such as ¨Gritos en Noche¨, ¨Miss Muerte¨ or ¨Necronomicon¨, developing a consolidated professionalism . However , his career got more and more impoverished in the following years, but his endless creativity enabled him to tackle films in all genres, from "B" horror to erotic films.

    Atmospheric cinematography in black and white by Godofredo Pacheco filmed on Northern Spanish locations . Good musical score by Daniel White , Franco's usual musician , including Jazzy soundtrack , wonderful songs and musical numbers . The motion picture was professionally directed by Jesus Franco. However , here he doesn't use his trademarks , as he carries out a traditional narration , without zooms , neither lousy pace . Jesus uses to sign under pseudonym , among the aliases he used, apart from the names Jess Franco or Franco Manera, were Jess Frank, Robert Zimmerman, Frank Hollman, Clifford Brown, David Khune , Toni Falt, James P. Johnson, Charlie Christian, David Tough , among others . Franco used to utilize usual marks such as zooms , nudism , foreground on objects , filmmaking in ¨do-it-yourself effort¨ style or DIY and managing to work extraordinarily quickly . In many of the more than 180 films he's directed he has also worked as composer, writer, cinematographer and editor. His first was "We Are 18 Years Old" and the second picture was ¨Gritos en la Noche¨ (1962) , the best of all them , also titled "The Awful Dr. Orlof" , it's followed by various sequels such as El Secreto del Dr. Orloff (1964) aka "The Mistresses of Dr. Jekyll" , " Orloff y el hombre invisible (1970) aka "Dr. Orloff's Invisible Monster" and finally "Faceless" (1987) . He also directed to the great Christopher Lee in 4 films : "The Bloody Judge" , ¨Count Dracula¨, ¨The Blood of Fu Manchu¨ and ¨The castle of Fu Manchu¨ . Jesús's influence has been notable all over Europe . From his huge body of work we can deduce that Jesús Franco is one of the most restless directors of Spanish cinema and often releasing several titles at the same time. Many of his films have had problems in getting released, and others have been made directly for video. More than once his staunchest supporters have found his "new" films to contain much footage from one or more of his older films . Jesús Franco is a survivor in a time when most of his colleagues tried to please the government administration. He broke up with all that and got the independence he was seeking. He always went upstream in an ephemeral industry that fed opportunists and curbed the activity of many professionals . But time doesn't pass in vain, and Jesus' production has diminished since the 90s ; however he went on shooting until his recent death .
  • horroregg3 August 2007
    Every one knows Franco is off his rocker. But this film is from a period where it wasn't so abundantly clear from looking at the screen.

    For those that think Franco is a hack film maker with all the sleazy zooms of his later films, see this and you'll discover that he does that because he likes it, not because he doesn't know how to do anything else.

    This one is made very nicely. It's shot in black and white holds up very well today, comparing favourably with many other films from this era and genre. Plot wise it's a serial killer movie, but it has that real timeless feel and atmosphere that places it firmly in the horror category.

    The understated performance from Franco regular Howard Vernon is outstanding, but all the cast are great. I'm not sure what the original language is, probably Spanish, I've seen it in English and French and although they're both acceptable, it's a shame not to hear the real actors voices (although Vernon probably dubbed himself).

    It's also amazingly daring for 1962, in fact way too daring for its day and the dungeon scene was removed by bastard censors. But it's back now and it's great, if you like that sort of thing of course, which, as you're reading a review of a Franco film, you do.

    I love this film.
  • Here's another early Franco, rescued for DVD, that proves that he was once a director to be reckoned with. Creepy B&W atmosphere, with individualistic characters spouting often witty dialogue (not unlike the Edgar Wallace krimis). Highly reminiscent of his earlier Orloff film (in fact, some of the scene settings and lighting techniques look identical), this one pushes the sadism further with a knockout torture scene of a sexy barmaid that must have really pushed the limits in the early 60's. The jazzy score and the usual cabaret scenes help keep the film light despite the preponderance of dialogue scenes.
  • A true deity to some…not much more than a lame plagiarist to others. One statement everyone must agree with is that Jess Franco is one of the most creative and busiest men in the film industry. With a repertoire of over 180 movies as a director, writer, composer and often also editor, Jess Franco always was an important pivot figure for the European cult cinema. Especially his earliest films are sublime independent motion pictures, since he afterwards merely followed popular trends (like the slasher films with 'Bloody Moon') or started making moneymaking sleaze films (nunsploitation, babes-in-prison flicks…). The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus belongs among his finest achievements – according to me at least – and only was his second effort in the horror field, immediately after the terrific 'Awful Dr. Orloff'. The film is set in a quiet little German town, still haunted by ghosts from the past. There once lived a maniacal Baron who committed several despicable felonies like murder, rape etc… When a young girl is found murdered and another one goes missing, the police immediately suspect the Baron's descendant Max von Klaus. But…is he really the murderer, because all the women disappear from the nearby hotel-brother visited by adulterous men.

    Talking about style, this film has quite a lot in common with The Awful Dr. Orloff. It's a slowly developing and atmospheric murder mystery. Even though there aren't that many suspects for the murders, Franco manages to keep up the suspense by giving away only a few clues. There's very few action (apart from a cool manhunt through the eerie old streets) but the dialogues are great and the black-and-white cinematography makes the entire film look ominous and paralyzing. Howard Vernon, star in many wicked Franco films, shines as the creepy looking Von Klaus. This early, story-driven Franco terror is recommended in case you're a Eurocult-hunter. Avoid if you're only into loud, computerized splatter.
  • The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus is a very early Jess Franco film. It comes from a phase in which he worked in black and white productions. It's about the legend of a long dead, sadistic 17th century Baron who rises from a swamp to kill women. Naturally, in the present day, a series of murders ensues in the vicinity of his castle.

    This one seemed to stand out for two reasons for me. Firstly, it was nice to see a Franco production sporting such lush black and white cinematography. It really adds a layer of class to proceedings and Franco is not always a director who you would associate with good taste! Secondly, and perhaps more typically of this director, it contained an S&M scene that must be the raciest soft-core sex scene I have seen from a film this old – its full-on topless nudity and kinkiness all the way here and that was rather fun to behold in a film of this vintage. Aside from these two differentiating factors this is a somewhat plodding and overlong murder-mystery that most probably falls under the bracket of the German Krimi sub-genre. It stars Franco regular actor Howard Vernon who once again stands head and shoulders above everybody else from a thespian perspective. All-in-all, an interesting if flawed 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Originally expecting to receive a DVD solely containing writer/director Jess Franco's 1973 Obscene Mirror,I was happily caught by surprise,when I discovered that the DVD seller had kindly included a bonus title!,which led to me getting ready to uncover the Von Klaus curse.

    The plot:

    Firmly keeping his feet on the ground,police inspector Borowsky has always dismissed the folk tales from the villagers about the first ever Baron of the wealthy Von Klaus family, (after attacking a woman,the first ever Baron Von Klaus killed himself via walking into the swamp surrounding the Klaus castle.

    Ever since Klaus has walked into the swamp,tales have been going around the village for decades about their being a Klaus ghost that kidnaps women.)due to seeing the myths as nothing but superstitious nonsense,that the locals use to take comfort in,instead of confronting the human face of evil.Sadly for Borwsky,he soon finds his dismissal of the supernatural to get a serious test,when a series of murders begin taking place across the village,that are eerily similar to Von Klaus mysterious killings.

    Whilst Borowsky is catching up with this folk tale, Ludwig von Klaus sits by his mum's death bed.About to take her final breath, Elisa von Klaus decides to that this is the best time to reveal to Ludwig that the first ever Von Klaus is suspected of being a serial killer.As Ludwig tries to get a grip on these new details, Murder and Maidens newspaper reporter Karl Steiner is ordered by his editor to pay a visit to the town,thanks to the ghost of Baron Von Klaus having returned to kill again.

    View on the film:

    Filmed at a time when the German Krimi genre was beginning to gain popularity,co-writer/ (along with Pío Ballesteros, Juan Cobos and Gonzalo Sebastián de Erice)director attempts to cross the police investigating side of the Krimi with a brewing Gothic Horror atmosphere.Running at a far too long 95 minutes,the writers are sadly never able to make both sides of the movie fully balance,thanks to the Krimi side of things being delivered in a surprisingly dry manner which lacks any really sharp twists & turns,whilst the Gothic Horror vibes are only allowed to deliver a true sting during the last few minutes of the title.

    Filmed away from the dictator-led Spain in France,Jess Franco surprisingly keeps away from using his trademark zoom-ins,to instead reveal a sharp eye for creating an excellent Film Noir mood,with Franco covering the Von Klaus mansion in thick,dusty blacks which create a strong feeling of their being a horrific evil covering the place in shadow.Along with the Film Noir mood,Franco also catches the audience completely by surprise,by delivering an extremely ahead of its time,daring S&M sequence,which along with the slow,sensual manner that Franco shots the scene,shows that the Von Klaus myth has come back from the swamp.
  • ferbs548 February 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    There seems to be a world of difference between the dozen or so films that Spanish "bad boy" director Jess Franco made from 1960-'67 and the almost 180 (!) he has made since. Those early films--including such titles as "The Awful Dr. Orloff," "The Sadistic Baron von Klaus," "Dr. Orloff's Monster" and (especially) "The Diabolical Dr. Z"--feature truly gorgeous B&W photography, Gothic compositions, interesting and understandable story lines, high production values and a NONreliance on the ol' zoom lens. His latter works, a slapdash mixed bag at best, to my experience, are a whole different game. "Von Klaus," one of Franco's releases from 1962, shows him at a point where his creative powers were burning very strongly. In the film, a series of sex murders has begun to once again afflict the village of Holfen, as has been the case for the last 500 years. Centuries ago, Baron von Klaus had been discovered to be the maniac killer, and his spirit is said to sporadically inhabit the bodies of his descendants. So is the modern-day baron (played by Howard Vernon; Dr. Orloff himself) responsible, or possibly his nephew, a young pianist named Ludwig (Hugo Blanco, the titular star of 1964's "Dr. Orloff's Monster"), or is it perhaps someone else? That's what no-nonsense police inspector Borowsky (Georges Rollin) and a reporter from "Maidens and Murderers" magazine (Fernando Delgado) endeavor to find out, in Franco's very entertaining and impressive film. The picture boasts a handful of memorable and bravura sequences: Ludwig's fiancée's nighttime awakening to an ominously ticking clock; the midnight attack on bar owner Lida in her bedroom, and the subsequent chase, down cobblestoned streets, after the killer; the matter-of-fact revelation of the psycho's identity; and the startling rape and torture scene that comes near the film's end. This scene, replete with nudity, bondage, whipping and red-hot pokers, and accompanied by some bizarre musique concrete courtesy of Daniel White, must have been truly shocking back in '62, especially considering the fact that the film's previous murders are quite tame and bloodless by comparison. In all, a well-done if at times plodding horror outing, put way over the top by Franco's imaginative direction and exceptionally fine B&W cinematography. Francophiles who are only familiar with the director's later, cheezier efforts will certainly be stunned.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    • A series of murders of young women have the townspeople believing that a centuries old killer, Baron Von Klaus, has returned from the dead. Many of the locals claim to have seen his shadowy figure rising from the nearby swamp. Is it really the dead Baron come back to claim more victims or is it one of his descendants?

    • The biggest reason I don't rate this movie any higher is that I found the first 3/4 of the movie to be incredibly boring. There's little suspense, little action, and little drama. I generally don't mind a slow moving movie as long as there is plenty of atmosphere and a sense of dread. But, Franco doesn't seem to be one of those directors who excels at atmosphere. Usually, he doesn't seem patient enough, but here he just seems to have no idea of how to do it.

    • The final fourth of this movie, however, is quite well done. The ritualistic murder is both frightful and erotic at the same time. And there is some real suspense in the chase scene leading up to the murderer's capture.

    • The more Franco movies I see, the more I'm growing to enjoy his choice of music. The snappy jazz scores are now one of the things I look forward to.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Decent early offering from Jess Franco. This is easily the smoothest, least flawed Franco film I've seen, yet it's also the least interesting. The production and photography are of a higher quality than his later works, yet the story feels less ambitious and more generic. Though somewhat disappointing, the overall aesthetic is certainly less frustrating than latter day Franco, and has some intriguing similarities to some later Italian horrors. I'd bet that Bloody Pit of Horror and Baron Blood were both more than a little inspired by this film, though each take their similar premise in radically different directions.

    Though the characters often refer to supernatural phenomena, Franco eschews much of that Gothic imagery for some suspense and murder sequences straight out of a giallo (viewers wanting to see something of that ilk should check out Bava's Baron Blood). The murder mystery is fairly engaging and managed to keep me off the scent with a fair share of red herrings, but I can't say it was up there with the best of them.

    The ending, though, was curiously reminiscent of the later A Virgin Among the Living Dead, both visually and thematically. It occurred to me as I watched that all of the three Franco films I've watched recently (this, A Virgin Among the Living Dead, and Female Vampire) share some strong thematic connections, strengthening the reading of Franco as an auteur. Most significant is the cursed family and tragic killer. I plan to watch more Franco films now to see if any more connections occur to me. I have seen The Bloody Judge but barely remember a thing about it. In the meantime, my final word on this film is that it's decent but lacks the artistic ambition of a later work like A Virgin Among the Living Dead that would warrant repeat viewing.
  • My last-viewed Jess Franco movie had been the supremely silly CELESTINE, AN ALL-ROUND MAID (1974); I was therefore relieved to catch something from his initial black-and-white phase, not that the end result proved exactly satisfying (especially since, at 95 minutes, it tends to drag somewhat). Incidentally, since I missed out on celebrating the notorious Spanish director's 80th birthday last year, I was ready to make amends now with as many as 15 Franco titles scheduled for this month (10 of them will even be first-time viewings) and 5 more that are in a way related or somewhat similar in theme and approach!

    This pretty much evokes the same mood as the superior THE DIABOLICAL DOCTOR Z (1965): in fact, I think his style kept improving or, if you like, gradually became more polished and reached its zenith in that film before he turned his attention to color and, with the new-found permissiveness, his erotic concern also came to the fore (which, in my book, was not a good thing but that argument is better left for another day and another film). By the way, even if these early efforts were officially Spanish productions, they are easier to come by in their slightly-altered (emphasizing the nudity quotient, sometimes gratuitously so, which on its home ground would have been repressed by the State Censorship Board!) French versions via the Eurocine company; thankfully, this copy retains the French dialogue which is (by far) superior to the English dubs…though the original Spanish title, which translates to THE HAND OF A DEAD MAN, is decidedly classier than the one it got stuck with here!

    The narrative is quite typical and, in fact, his later Dracula'S DAUGHTER (1972; no relation to the 1936 Universal horror classic) makes for a direct remake of it: if anything, Franco frequently ingeniously (or is that ingenuously) revamped a plot that he felt a particular affinity with or, perhaps to put it more crudely, a formula that seemed to work – personally, I find his most interesting double-feature in this vein to be the blood-sucking combo of COUNT Dracula (1969; which I will be revisiting presently since I have only caught it thus far in the slightly extended but unsubtitled Spanish-language version) and VAMPYROS LESBOS (1970). Anyway, this is not bad but it does not reach any great heights either: we have a series of murders which seem to be tied to one particular family and, apparently, are a reprise of a killing spree perpetrated by an ancestor. The obvious suspect is the new head of the family (played by the sinister-looking and Franco regular Howard Vernon) but, as it turns out, it is someone else who had so far been depicted as reasonably sympathetic and virtuous – that said, there are clues to his true nature when he barely bats an eyelid over the death of his mother…unless this was a combination of bad direction and listless acting (with Franco, you are never really sure)! In the end, he voluntarily joins his progenitor into the swamps (again, foreshadowing a subsequent picture by the director, namely A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD {1971}).

    The film contains elements which would soon become trademarks such as the dysfunctional family unit, the cabaret act and the Police procedural, yet Franco is most inspired when he tries to emulate his idol Orson Welles – particularly a night-time chase through the streets marked by tilted camera angles! As I said, on the other hand, the would-be titillating inserts do not really add anything to the proceedings or the film's overall assessment: indeed, these so-called "Continental Versions" were never more than sensation-seeking exploitation ploys and, at this juncture, come across as mere curiosities!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Strange that enigmatic Ludwig von Klaus should be played by handsome Hugo Blanco who, with very little make-up, would be called upon to terrify people in 'The Mistresses of Dr. Orloff' two years after the release of this early Jess Franco directed horror story.

    As it is, 'Baron von Klaus' sits very comfortably among Franco's other early 60s horror releases. Apparently (as ever), funding was difficult, but you really wouldn't know it. The cast, the locations and the overall atmosphere (and the jazzy soundtrack) are stylish and polished, especially the mighty Howard Vernon as Von Klaus senior, whose striking presence is the focal point of any scene without the need to over-gesticulate or overact. However, somewhere in the middle of the story, the pace lapses quite severely and only partially manages to fully reinvigorate the proceedings by the end, despite a protracted and graphic sadomasochistic torture scene.

    Although enjoyable and laced with some beautifully orchestrated scenes, I found this slightly less impressive than Franco's other work from this period. I wonder if Franco, renowned for losing interest in things quickly, was getting bored with telling stories in this way? I wouldn't dare suggest that just because I found this occasionally sluggish that he was ready to move on to more graphic content – but certainly the inclusion of a level of gratuity here would seem to indicate a possible transition between the noir-ish tendencies of his early films to the more garish, exploitative productions of his later output.
  • I'm not sure if I saw this in the distant past on some rough video or not but recalled nothing of it and decided, following Franco's recent demise, to watch my recently acquired Image release and it's a revelation. I had certainly never seen the most vigorous cellar sequence before but was most impressed with the whole film. It is a little slow but it always looks so good with the marvellous cinematography, presumably by the director himself, and most of it shot outside with great evocative locations. Howard Vernon is his usual splendid self, appearing as guilty as hell and provided you don't expect a breakneck pace this is a highly recommended watch with an absolutely stunning and ambiguously shot, aforementioned cellar scene.
  • gavin69425 April 2013
    When women are found knifed and gouged in the tiny hamlet of Holfen, everyone suspects the distantly related heir of Baron Von Klaus, a sadistic 17th century baron who cursed the village.

    There are some good themes here: the small village, the wealthy but evil baron, and the idea of a family curse. At one point the heir wonders if at some point he will become a killer like von Klaus was. The film does not play into the emotional or psychological very deeply, but it raises that age old question: can you escape your destiny?

    I would need to see this film again to give it my full attention and a more thoughtful review. I was not ready for subtitles and could not follow along the whole time. Shame on me.
  • This is NOT a horror movie. It is a serial-killer movie, so you won't find any aspects of the supernatural, here.

    B/W feature, set in Germany, dubbed in French with English subtitles. I suspect that it was actually filmed in northern Spain. Don't know for sure.

    A modern day Baron's ancestors have a curse that goes back 500 years to when the ancient Baron was involved in a series of murders of young women by knifing and torturing them. The police and a crime reporter from out of town go on the hunt to search for the killer.

    Btw, it didn't take rocket-science to know who the killer was since this became apparent early on in the film.

    The film does have some spooky atmosphere to it and it also has one S/M scene where the barmaid (Gogo Rojo?) is chained up from a rafter, topless with very faint whip marks on her back. She is stabbed by the killer although it isn't shown on the film directly, but slightly off camera with no blood shown.

    But besides all this, I think it is a weak film that deserves no more than a 3 out of 10 for sheer boredom.