The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus (1962) poster

The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus (1962)


(La Mano de un Hombre Muerto)

Spain. 1962.


Director – Jess Frank [Jesus Franco], Screenplay – Rene Sebille, Based on the Novel by David Kuhne [Jesus Franco], Music – Daniel White. Production Company – Albatros Film C.B.C..


Howard Vernon (Baron Max Von Klaus), [uncredited] Fernando Delgado (Karl Steiner), Hugo Blanco (Ludwig Von Klaus), Paula Martel (Karine Von Klaus), Georges Rollin (Inspector Borowski), Anna Astor (Lida), Gogo Robins (Margaret)


In Germany, the tabloid journalist Karl Steiner is sent by his editor to the town of Holfen to investigate the local legend surrounding the nobleman Baron Von Klaus who is supposed to periodically rise from the tomb and kill. As Steiner arrives, the local police are investigating a series of murdered girls’ bodies. As more girls are killed, Steiner begins to dig into the mystery, suspecting the current Baron Von Klaus is behind the murders.

The late Jesus or Jess Franco (1930-2013) is considered the world’s most prolific director. Between 1957 and 2013, Franco directed a purported 199 feature films. Many of these exist under a labyrinth of alternate titles and different cuts. Franco’s most prolific heyday were during the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. During this period, he was producing 6-8 films per year in numerous genres from thrillers, spy films and science-fiction but most of all horror and erotica/pornography. Franco’s films have attained a certain cult following for their arty pretentions, although just as many of them are cheaply made. (A full list of Jess Franco’s other genre films is at the bottom of the page).

The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus was made very early in Franco’s career – it was around his sixth film and he is still shooting in black-and-white at this point. The oddity of the print in dvd release seen here is that it is dubbed into French – you have the surreal experience of viewing a film that is set in Germany, was originally shot in Spanish and then dubbed into French before being subtitled into English.

It is almost certain that Franco was influenced by the early works of the Continental Gothic such as the Italian-made I Vampiri (1957) and Black Sunday (1960). If the film had been made only a couple of years later, it would almost certainly have been a Giallo film after the genre took off with Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace (1964). As it is, the film can be considered embryonic giallo, often drawing on the stylistic flourishes and improbably contrived psycho-thriller plots common to the genre.

The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus (1962)
Some of the film’s stnning black-and-white photography

A reasonable amount of the film is prosaic, especially the scenes set around the hotel and police investigation. There is the suggestion of the supernatural figure of the titular nobleman killing people but the film is not much interested in this and instead gives us an ordinary black-hooded figure running about killing girls. However, Franco suddenly finds his style in the middle of the film with a vividly lit sequence with the killer fleeing from an attack across a cobbled square and down an arched alleyway where his shadow and lighting schemes do exciting things that remind you in their better moments of something of The Third Man (1949).

This is also the beginnings of Franco’s sado-sexual focus that in later years he would push into some fascinatingly perverse areas. 1962 was a few years before censorship standards had opened up around the world to allow much more free depiction of nudity. So it surprises here where we have a scene where the killer takes Gogo Robins down to his dungeon and then makes out with her where we see her topless in bed before he then chains her up and kills her with a sword. The scene comes with some very stylish shooting as well.

Jess Franco’s other films are:– The Awful Dr Orloff (1962), The Secret of Dr Orloff (1964), Attack of the Robots (1966), The Diabolical Dr Z/Miss Death (1966), The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968), Necronomicon/Succubus (1968), The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969), Justine (1969), Kiss Me Monster (1969), 99 Women (1969), Sadisterotica/Red Lips (1969), The Girl from Rio (1969), Venus in Furs/Paroxysmus (1969), The Bloody Judge/Night of the Blood Monster (1970), Count Dracula (1970), Eugenie/Philosophy in the Boudoir (1970), Nightmares Come at Night (1970), Vampyros Lesbos (1970), Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1971), She Killed in Ecstasy (1971), The Corpse Packs His Bags (1972), The Daughter of Dracula (1972), The Demons (1972), Doctor Mabuse (1972), The Erotic Adventures of Frankenstein (1972), The Silence of the Tomb (1972), The Bare-Breasted Countess/Erotikill/Female Vampire (1973), The Erotic Adventures of Maciste in Atlantis (1973), The Obscene Mirror/The Other Side of the Mirror (1973), The Sinister Eyes of Dr Orloff (1973), A Virgin Among the Living Dead/Christina, Princess of Eroticism (1973), Lorna the Exorcist (1974), The Perverse Countess (1974), Eugenie (1975), Doriana Grey (1976), Jack the Ripper (1976), Night of the Assassins (1976), Sexy Sisters/Satanic Sisters (1976), Greta the Mad Butcher/Wanda the Wicked Warden/Ilsa: Absolute Power (1977), Call of the Blonde Goddess/Voodoo Passion (1977), Wicked Women (1977), Demoniac/Exorcism/The Ripper of Notre Dame (1979), Man Hunter/The Devil Hunter (1980), White Cannibal Queen (1980), Bloody Moon (1981), Oasis of the Zombies (1981), Revenge of the House of Usher (1982), Grave of the Living Dead (1983), The Treasure of the White Goddess (1983), The Sinister Dr Orloff (1984), Mansion of the Living Dead (1985), Faceless (1987), The Killer Barbies (1996), Lust for Frankenstein (1998), Marie-Cookie and the Killer Tarantula in 8 Legs to Love You (1998), Tender Flesh (1998), Vampire Blues (1999), Vampire Junction (2001), Incubus (2002), Killer Barbies vs Dracula (2002), Snakewoman (2005), Paula-Paula (2010), Al Pereira vs the Alligator Ladies (2012), Crypt of the Condemned (2012) and Revenge of the Alligator Ladies (2013).

Trailer here

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