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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus aka "La mano de un hombre muerto" [Blu-ray]

 

(Jess Franco, 1962)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Albatros C.P.C.

Video: Redemption / Kino

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:39:57.574

Disc Size: 20,285,260,253 bytes

Feature Size: 19,434,283,008 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.95 Mbps

Chapters: 11

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 9th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio French 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English, None

 

Extras:

• Trailer (4:08)

 

Bitrate:

 

Description: This plodding, sadistic horror film from director Jesus Franco concerns an Austrian legend about a ghostly Baron who supposedly rises from the swamps and murders women. When real murders are discovered, Inspector Borowsky Georges Rollin is immediately suspicious of the Baron's descendant, Max von Klaus Howard Vernon, who lives in a creepy castle with his nephew Ludwig Hugo Blanco and sister Elisa Maria Frances. Ludwig whips a pretty woman named Margaret Gogo Rojo and burns her with a heated poker in the film's only remotely shocking sequence, which has been excised in several of the release prints. A slow-moving story based on Franco's novel La Main d'Une Homme Mort leaves Godofredo Pacheco's cinematography and a deft performance by Howard Vernon as the film's only attractions.

 

 

The Film:

In this follow-up to his ground-breaking horror film The Awful Dr. Orlof, Jess Franco (Female Vampire, A Virgin Among the Living Dead) continued to lay the foundation of a career defined by fetishistic imagery and transgressive violence.

A series of grisly murders in the remote village of Holfen convinces the locals that the town is still cursed by the spirit of a 17th-century baron who maintained an elaborate torture chamber in the dungeon of his estate. Undaunted by the villagers' superstitions, a detective (Georges Rollin) quickly focuses his investigation upon the creepy Max Von Klaus (Howard Vernon). Meanwhile, the youngest male descendent of the Von Klaus bloodline (Hugo Blanco) returns home to mourn the death of his mother, and must wrestle with his own connection to the cursed family history.

The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus occupies a significant stage in Franco's evolution as a filmmaker. On one hand, it is a well-produced thriller in the European style (the influence of Carol Reed's The Third Man is apparent throughout). But Franco is clearly interested in stepping outside convention to innovate something of his own, as evidenced by the newly-restored torture dungeon sequence which cult film historian Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog) called, "horror cinema's first sequence of 100-proof erotic horror." It is a sequence that is shocking even today and was, in 1962, an omen of diabolical things to come.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Jess Franco's intriguing-sounding title The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus aka "La mano de un hombre muerto" has come to Blu-ray from Redemption.  Aside from some early vertical scratches the image quality is superior to what I was anticipating. The source has some weaknesses but overall the 1080P shows the 2.35 widescreen, black and white film looks decent.  This is single-layered with a modest bitrate for the 1.5 hour film but I expect this is as good as the film has ever looked on digital. The contrast layering and texture may be the most appealing visual attributes. There is some softness but nothing I wouldn't relate to the French print. The more X-rated sequences are in rougher shape - looking almost like they have come from 16mm example HERE. I don't know.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Redemption use a linear PCM 2.0 channel mono track at 1536 kbps (16-bit) in the French language. I believe the film was originally shown in Spanish - but there are DUBs no matter which language it is presented in. The DUBs in this Blu-ray transfer are poor but reading the subtitles you don't seem to focus on the sync issues as much. The score is by veteran Daniel White (The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, The Man With the Severed Head) and has some odd flashes but seems appropriate for the film. There are optional English subtitles on the and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Only a rough-looking trailer as a supplement.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I'm no expert on Jess Franco and I'd say this is better than most of his stuff I've seen - not that this is saying a lot as he is not a director I gravitate to easily. The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus has plenty of weaknesses and, like most of his work, is scattered - lacking cohesive-ness. Saying that I didn't mind watching this Redemption Blu-ray. The imperfect appearance supports the film enough to watch it and I was keen enough to view it to completion. This bare-bones package is not one I can recommend except to those keen on Franco's work - for those individuals - this would certainly be appealing. The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus does have some atmospheric and creepy scenes, but I expect the taboo sex-angle will be a let down to most.

Gary Tooze

June 2nd, 2015

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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