Baron Blood (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus resurects an ancestor and finds out why they called him Baron Blood....
American Peter Kleist (Antonio Cantafora) travels to visit the castle of his ancestor Baron Otto Von Kleist, who had a reputation that earned him the nickname "Baron Blood". The Baron was cursed by a witch for his evil deeds against the villagers and when Peter is shown a parchment with a spell that may have the power to bring Baron Blood back to life, his curiosity gets the better of him. Sadly for Peter and his architect friend Eva (Elke Sommer) the parchment is burned before they can read the dismissal incantation and Baron Blood lives again.
This 1972 Mario Bava horror movie is a very easily accessible horror story with a classic deformed monster of a man racking up a regular body count. It’s a perfect, albeit rather lazy late night spooky flick to watch that comes with all of the usual touch stones; An obliviously curious guy, a cute, scared of the consequences gal and the pair messing with the occult in a musty old castle. Its classic stuff and all the elements are handled accordingly. Creaking doors and ominous door handles, spooky paintings and of course blood. Ghost stories aren’t really told like this mainstream filmmaking anymore and I have to say it was fun to watch a fairly basic feeling story unravel through the heavy fog and flashing lightning of this creepy tale, even though at its core Baron Blood is a Slasher movie realy.
The Baron, played by Joseph Cotten (yes, THAT Joseph Cotton from Citizen Kane) gets to play a pretty standard back from the dead slasher type character here. Sure, it may start a bit differently, with his first soon to be victim not running away but actually taking him in to help fix his wounds (before getting killed of course) but after that it’s a series of gruesome killings until the good guys round up to stop him.
I’m not the biggest of Mario Bava viewers but having seen a selection of his work over the years, this one felt a little more conventional that I expected it to be. The much celebrated director still plays with tension especially well but Baron Blood feels much more akin to the mainstream horror we’re used to today and of course the fact he was doing it this solidly way back in the early seventies shows how much his influence travels on through the genre now.
This video presentation is plenty grainy, especially in the wider shots of blue sky but it still manages to muster up a fresh, bright image, especially in the exterior scenes. The relatively good looking image is let down by the odd noticeable bit of dirt here and there but it’s never really enough to consider it a big issue.
Details feel a little restricted and edges can often appear quite soft but the slightly warmer than natural colours makes the restoration come to life within its new high definition home. Red in particular pops out of the screen with real vibrancy and the warm pink skin tones upon everyone's face really counters well against the deep black backgrounds in the darker scenes.
Talking of the darker scenes, most of the black levels here are solid and it's really only the foggy elements that can get a little grubby looking. Baron Blood provides a pretty respectable looking video presentation overall. It’s never quite sharp enough to get giddy about but given the never-age-too-well techniques used within the film, they still translate to HD quite well.
Given the amount of Italian films I’ve looked at over the past six months, I’m pretty used to the re-dubbed out of sync dialogue now but the dialogue here is a noticeably muffled and often quite distorted with a fair bit of hiss. High pitches such as screams and score really struggle through the muffled recording and the eerie music often feels tiny within the confined stereo track and not all encompassing as it sometimes feels it should be.
This never really improves as the movie moves forward and I didn’t find myself getting used to it either. This muffled, almost wrong sounding audio really lets the HD presentation down here and while it’s far from unwatchable it dates the film quite substantially.
The disc comes with three different versions of the the film. The ‘Export Version’ (97 mins) the ‘AIP Version’ (90 mins) and a third version 'Gli Orrori Castello Di Norimberga' (97 mins). Each version isn’t vastly different from the other but each offers up different cuts, score and in same cases dialogue to fall in line with the region it was released ins sensibilities at the time.
The introduction by Alan Jones (03:30 SD) is yet another of his super informative yet short introductions and then the audio commentary by Tim Lucas (on the Export Version only by the way) basically runs like an expert’s audio fact track. It’s structured and to the point and full of details to widen the viewer’s knowledge of the film and its history.
In addition to that we also get the English and Italian trailer, Radio Spots, a photo gallery of ‘Bava at Work’ and lastly a ‘Ruggero Deddato Interview’ (11:46 HD) where he comments on the Golden Age of Italian Horror and Bava’s work on the genre. Also, there's the ever present DVD copy as well.
Baron Blood was pretty conventional stuff but done well. Sure some of its horrific scenes feel a tad dated by todays standards but the story beats are all there and Bava knows how to handle tension at every turn. The disc looks great but suffers in the audio department. Extras are generally details to make every viewer a Baron Blood expert, with the majority of that residing in the commentary track.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 29th April 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 2.0 English
Extras: Commentary, Introduction, Interview, Trailers, Photo Gallery
Easter Egg: No
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Joseph Cotten, Elke Sommer, Massimo Girotti
Length: 97 minutes
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