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Have mercy or not upon Marek Toleslawski? A very evil man, but to be recognized he has a certain self-irony because he decides, at some point in his life, to change his name in Mr.Sardonicus, for obvious reasons we'll see later .
But first we have to say that this is an elegant and clever horror of the 1961 by William Castle. A old-fashioned grotesque story, well-structured created from the story "Sardonicus" by Ray Russell published on "Playboy" from which Castle not only buy the rights but also hires the author to write the screenplay.
The structure follows a safe path, which could not fail to please the audience. The structure refers to Dracula, with the setting between London and an unspecifie  castle in Eastern Europe, while the style is like "Hammers" , elegant, with well-constructed scenes, but with everything, absolutely everything, shot in the studios. A choice that gives an effect of total fiction but with a story like that doesn't clash. Indeed, it makes it more outstanding, almost dreamlike .
Castle chooses very well the cast, made ​​up of excellent actors who create a good series of stereotyped characters. We find the Welsh Ronald Lewis who plays the dr.Robert Cargrave, a young doctor, intelligent and attractive, one of the good of this story. Very active actor in the fifties, he sees fading success in the sixties and things get worse in the next decade further to the point of inducing him to commit suicide in the early eighties .
The beautiful, which of course can not miss is called Maude and is played by the Irish Audrey Dalton active in both cinema and television, daughter of one of the heroes of Irish independence (later film producer). The servant Krull, one of the villains is masterfully played by the Austrian Oskar Homolka who fled to the U.S. during the rise of Hitler and entered the world of cinema thanks to his accent that led him  often play the roles of the grim Soviet and even to the Oscar nomination as best Supporting Actor for "I Remember Mama" in 1948.
Finally, the bad, baddest, Marek Toleslawski, better known as Baron Sardonicus which the tall and skinny Guy Rolfe expert in roles of this type and present in a lot of movies (famous for the "Puppet Master" ) gives a ugly soul and a ugly body.
Everyone here, in a story that may seem to want to speaks about Karma. Because Marek Toleslawski, honest and poor man, receives as a gift from his father a lottery ticket. The father dies and Marek and his wife discovered they had won the lottery, but the ticket is in the jacket with which the old man was buried .
Against his will, and just to show love to his wife, Marek exhumes his father, who has on his face on a sardonic smile. Maybe for the shock or for an evil spirit, the smile ends on the face of Marek making him monstrous and unable to speak. His wife leaves him and he, with money buy a castle, the title of Baron and changes his name In Sardonicus.
He married Maude, given to him as wife to honor some debts and tries in vain to recover from his illness/curse. Nothing seems to work, atrocious experiments on human guinea pigs, luminaries of medicine, but nothing.
Only Robert, great London doctore, called to the castle from his former girlfriend Maude seems to be able to understand this case. It's him who explains this story of spirits, curses or simple psychology.
The trick is applied to Mr.Sardonicus is definitely good and looks a bit the
Lon Chaney's Phantom Of The Opera. A very difficult make-up, very long to apply and apparently painful, a reason that explains why Sardonicus appear for most with a plastic mask on the face, leaving the smile in few scenes .
Strains, pains and even wickedness , who have to think to the public to have pity, as we said at the beginning, or not upon the bad.
The great of Castle this time given a card to the audicence with a thumb up on one side and and a thumb down on other.
Few minutes from the end, the good William Castle reappears on the film, which had of course introduced asking the audience to vote, to save or not, Mr.Sardonicus.
So "Mr.Sardonicus " is a movie with two endings. In theory. Because sure about the negative vote the "happy ending" was never shown but probably never even shot, as Castle says in an interview but in another interview Audrey Dalton says the exact opposite. And thank goodness that our society is more ruthless than that of a time!

Technical Specifications

Original title: Mr.Sardonicus

Alternative Titles : Der unheimliche Mr. Sardonicus (Austria ), A Máscara do Horror ( Brazil) , Mr. Sardonicus (Denmark) , Sardonicus (UK ), El barón Sardonicus (Mexico) , or left Mr. Sardonicus (Portugal) , Der unheimliche Mr. Sardonicus (Germany)

Year : 1961

Directed by: William Castle

Country: USA

Cast: Ronald Lewis , Audrey Dalton , Oskar Homolka , Guy Rolfe , Vladimir Sokoloff , Erika Peters, Lorna Hanson

Production House : William Castle Productions

Duration: 89 '