Pete’s Peek | Baron Blood – Enter the torture chamber of Mario Bava’s grisly 1970s horror on Blu-ray

Baron Blood on Blu-ray

In 1970s Austria, 400-year-old warlock, Baron Otto von Kleist is resurrected during a séance conducted by his descendant’s girlfriend, Eva (Elke Sommer). The hideously disfigured Baron then disguises himself as Alfred Becker (Joseph Cotton), the elderly buyer of his own medieval castle, which he turns into a tourist haunt – complete with working torture chamber and the corpses of his latest victims impaled on the towers. In possession of an amulet that can raise the Baron’s victims from the dead, Eva seeks out a psychic to try a destroy the Baron…

Baron Blood Elke Sommer

Shot on location at Burg Kreuzenstein in Leobendorf, Austria, Baron Blood is probably the closest thing to a Vincent Price horror film, but without the merchant of menace in residence, as it looks like a 1970s version of Price’s 1953 chiller, House of Wax (you know its the 1970s by the eye-wincing clobber, naff zooms and the Pan Am 747 cameo).

When Price turned down the film (he was probably still smarting over appearing in Bava’s terrible Dr Goldfoot sequel), Joseph Cotton (who appeared with Price in The Abominable Dr Phibes two years previously) got to ham it up as the film’s villain. The similarities between Cotton’s Baron and Price’s House of Wax character, Henry Jarrod, are plain to see. Both have been disfigured by fire, and both wear a black fedora and cape while despatching their victims. They are also both wheelchair bound when in their human disguise. There’s even a scene, in which Eva is chased through some foggy streets, that mirrors Price stalking the heroine of the 1953 film.

Burg Kreuzenstein in Leobendorf, Austria

With the exception of a couple of gory thrills (like that coffin scene), which were removed for the American release, the style and tone of Baron Blood evokes the funereal excesses of Bava’s problematic, but deliriously wonderful, Lisa and the Devil (which has already been given the Arrow treatment). The US version also replaced Stelvio Cipriani’s soundtrack with one by Les Baxter, who did scores for Roger Corman’s 1960s Poe cycle of films, that also featured Price.

Baron Blood

Arrow Video’s R2/B release (out 29 April) features a HD Blu-ray and standard definition DVD presentation of three versions of the film: the Italian original, Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga