Baron Blood (1972)

*. Mario Bava scored a real hit with Baron Blood, which in turn led to producer Alfredo Leone giving him a free hand on his next feature, the ill-fated but intriguing Lisa and the Devil. That’s about everything good I can say about Baron Blood though.
*. The story is uninteresting and tired. Just for kicks, Peter, the descendant of a bloodthirsty German baron (modeled on Vlad the Impaler) decides to read aloud an ancient spell that, legend has it, has the power to resurrect his ancestor. The baron comes back and kills some people before finally being done away with.
*. None of it makes any sense. There’s a sexy witch who says things like “you mortals are such fools!” and a magic amulet thrown in for good measure. The young man pairs off with Eva (Elke Sommer), who runs around and screams a lot. Aside from looking good in a torn-up dress, she’s awful.

*. A couple of silly parts stand out. I liked it when Peter tells Eva that, after raising the Baron from the dead, “if we don’t dig him, we’ll ditch him.” Yeah, man! But even better is when the Baron, after being dead for three hundred years, crawls out of his grave and heads straight to a local doctor for first aid. You have to take care of yourself.
*. The book Peter’s professor uncle is seen holding is Die Kultur der Griechen by Thassilo Von Scheffer. I always notice things like this, and it made me wonder what it is he’s a professor of. When we see him working in his classroom he has mathematical equations and drawings of the brain on his chalkboard. He carries around books on the classical world. He says he studies ESP and the paranormal. I think he’s probably just the stereotype of the brainy Professor of Everything.
*. To be honest, I was mostly just waiting for Joseph Cotten to show up, which he does in a wheelchair at the halfway point. He’s playing Vincent Price (who was the first choice for the part). The fact that he’s disabled is immediately suspicious, since the castle he’s just bought doesn’t look very wheelchair accessible. Are they going to put in elevators while they’re refurbishing the torture chamber in the dungeon?
*. There’s nothing scary going on. The effects are poor. There are no good kills, despite the film’s reputation for gore. And Bava’s usual camera tricks, in particular the use of zooms and shots going in and out of focus, are gratuitous and overused. I know they’re a staple, but they’re so repetitive and pointless here that they become annoying.
*. I like Bava a lot but there’s no denying this is one of his weaker efforts, both uninspired and dull. I would recommend it to fans, but think that it may disappoint them the most. Better to take a pass.

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