Review Date: February 1, 2000
Released by: Image Entertainment
Release date: 10/5/1999
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: No
It's taken awhile for Baron Otton von Kleist to make his way onto DVD, but he's finally arrived. Originally scheduled for release by Elite Entertainment (along with another Bava film, Lisa & the Devil
), it was suddenly canceled due to rights issues and the film went into limbo. Luckily, Image Entertainment is releasing a slew of Mario Bava films, and Baron Blood
was the first to be released under their "Mario Bava Collection".
Peter Kleist (Antonio Cantafora) comes to Austria to learn more about his heritage. In particular, he is interested in his ghoulish ancestor Baron Otton Von Kleist (Joseph Cotten), commonly known as "Baron Blood". Together with his Uncle Dr. Karl Hummel (Massimo Girotti), Peter visits the castle that served as Baron Blood's home. The castle is currently being renovated with plans to turn it into a hotel. There he meets Eva (Elke Sommer), who is monitoring the workers to ensure the developers don't make any changes that would hurt the Castle's historic value. Eva is invited to Uncle Karl's place for dinner and afterwards they discuss the Baron. Eva explains that in the 15th century Baron Blood tortured and murdered many villagers in the vicinity of his castle.
One of those victims was a young witch, Elizabeth Holly, who was burned at the stake by the Baron because he feared her. Before Elizabeth died, however, she placed a curse on Baron Blood promising he would suffer a hundred times as much as any of his victims. In addition she left an incantation that would bring the Baron back to suffer again and again. When Peter was younger he discovered a parchment with an incantation at his Uncle's place. When he left for Austria he took it with him. Peter is warned by his Uncle not to play with the occult, but his curiosity gets the better of him and one night he and Eva return to the castle and the room where the Baron was killed to invoke the curse.
The incantation works and the Baron is brought back to life, but before Peter could send the Baron back the parchment with the incantation burns. With the Baron once again unleashed he returns to his old habits of torture and murder. Peter and Eva must now find a way to make contact with Elizabeth Holly and send the Baron back before more people are made to suffer in the Baron's torture chambers.
Though not one of Mario Bava's best films, Baron Blood
is excellent in its own right. Baron Blood
was the first Mario Bava film I ever saw and I've been hooked on the director's films ever since. Infused with Bava's unrivaled sense of style and imagery, those aspects alone drive this film and in many ways upstage the actors and their performances. This is quite evident during the chase scene between Baron Blood and Eva through the narrow streets of Austria. Here Bava's use of lighting and fog create a suspenseful environment even though the actual chase itself falls rather flat. Mario Bava also uses the Austrian landscape and gothic castle to full effect showing off beauty that masks so much horror inside.
The gore in the film is pretty good. Bava must like to nailing people because in Baron Blood
we get another death scene in which a poor fellow (Fritz!) gets himself locked in a coffin with nails protruding in the inside...ouch! Speaking of death scenes, there are a few neat ones, but certainly not on par with Bava's Bay of Blood
. The acting I found to be about average. Elke Sommer, who worked again with Mario Bava on Lisa & the Devil, plays the heroine but overall I found the performance only average and there are times her scream becomes a little annoying. I liked her acting a lot more in Lisa & the Devil. Joseph Cotten, who plays Baron Blood's persona when he's not a ghoulish monster, is very stiff at times and I wonder if that was on purpose.
may not be one of Mario Bava's more notable films, but it has a lot of his signature style and direction. This film will always be special for me, as it was the first Mario Bava I had ever seen.
Image Entertainment presents Baron Blood
letterboxed at 1.85:1 in a non-anamorphic transfer. Overall the transfer is pretty grainy and that's noticeable right from the start. I've been a proud owner of Elite's double bill, Baron Blood/Lisa & the Devil
Laserdisc and the transfer was the same way on the LD. The transfer looks great in some scenes, but others don't fair as well. Colors are pretty good and flesh tones appeared natural and well saturated. Black level seemed a little off, making some blacks grayish in appearance. Print damage was minimal and never distracting. It's a shame Image didn't do a 16x9 transfer for the film since I think it would have helped.
Presented in mono, Stelvio Ciprian's score sounds good dialogue was clear, but I did hear some distortion in some of Elke Sommer's screams.
Not much here except a pretty bad trailer that seems overly bright. There is also a poster & art gallery, along with cast filmographies for Elke Sommer and Joseph Cotten. For Bava fans, Image has included a small biography written by Tim Lucas as well as a filmography. Also included are liner notes by Tim Lucas written on the DVD's sleeve. This is a standard release and I didn't expect it to come packed with supplements, but one thing I wish Image would've done starting with this release is to get rid of those friggin snapper cases!
It's great that so many Mario Bava films are being released on DVD. Though Baron Blood
is not Bava's finest film, it is a great example of Bava's style and direction. Image Entertainment provides us with a pretty straightforward release with a good presentation (the best I've seen) at a fair price. A must own for Bava fans.
Image Quality - B
Sound - B
Supplements - B-
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- 16 Chapter Stops
- Dolby Digital Mono
- Theatrical trailer
- Director and Cast filmographies
- Mario Bava Biography
- Linear Notes by Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas
- Photo and poster gallery