Tonight, we augment your 4th of July extended weekend with a chorus of “hooray for the dead, fright and boo!” as we bring back a creepy tale from the resume of movie gimmick-master William Castle! It’s a film that gave many a movie-goer nightmares, most of them provoked by the countenance of the title baron - the mysterious and shocking “Mr. Sardonicus”!
This 1961 horror story begins with the introduction of the noble Dr. Robert Cargrave, a medical practitioner using unique breakthrough treatments for paralysis in 1800s London, After receiving a troubling letter from his long lost love, the now Baroness Sardonicus- asking him to come immediately to her husband’s home in order to insure her well- being, the doctor, concerned by her sense of urgency, heads to Gorslava, a central European country, to see what is plaguing his former beloved Maude. Arriving at the Sardonicus castle- he is shocked to find a scarred man-servant torturing one of the maids as part of a “therapeutic experiment” prescribed by the mysterious Baron. He puts a stop to the so-called therapy , and is finally reunited with Maude, a fragile beauty who is in full fright mode, begging him to follow through on whatever Sardonicus might ask him to do- for the good of both of them
Finally, the baron himself appears- wearing a full face mask, his actual visage hidden from sight. As dinner is served, he joins his wife and their visitor, but does not partake of the meal, stating that he has already eaten. Later, Sardonicus deems to explain the mask to the doctor, and recounts his life story – with his beginnings as a poor farmer, living with his pretty wife and his father. Sadly, his father passes away- but one of the locals reveals the fact that the old man had won a rich lottery prize. It dawns on his son and daughter-in-law that the winning ticket was buried with the old man! The beautiful but demanding wife goads the poor fellow into committing an unspeakable act- digging up his father’s grave to retrieve the ticket, and make them wealthy. He heads out to the graveyard to carry out the awful deed- but,while succeeding makes him a rich man, it also make him pay a hideous price!
Sardonicus reveals to the doctor the results of his vile act-including the reason he must cover his true face. It is the reason that Cargrave was summoned- to use his expertise and experimental treatments to restore the baron’s face to its normal form. Should he fail, the Baron threatens to bring unspeakable horrors to both Maude and her former lover- awful enough to rival what has happened to the heartless Sardonicus!
Besides some truly shocking scenes- this film features Castle’s gimmick of the “Punishment Poll” by which the audience would supposedly determine the film’s outcome. We’ll tell you all about that, as well as providing facts about Castle and our cast. We’ll serenade you with a song a little later than usual in the program, and bring you a new lottery with its basic face value . As always, since we always have some viewers who have not experienced the film, we ask that our blog commenters please refrain from posting pictures from the film, or information that would include spoilers until the show concludes – in all time zones, please. Your extra information that we didn’t cover is always welcome- but only AFTER the show has aired everywhere. Don’t risk being banned! “Mr. Sardonicus” brings his grim visage to MeTV tonight at 8 pm eastern/pacific, 7 central, or, if you’re not sure of the time and channel in your area, go to your local listings or www.metv.com MeTV invites our viewers to live- Tweet during the show on Twitter, using the hashtag #svengoolie - and join the many fans who keep us trending among the most-talked about Twitter topics nationally each week! Chicago area viewers can do a double-take at Hammer Studios’ “Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll” at 11 am on WCIU, the U.
We hope you’ve taken advantage of the limited anniversary edition of the beloved “It Came from Berwyn” Sven t shirt that went on sale on July1st- there are still some left, though not all sizes are still available. More anniversary shirts will be coming up in the next few months- with other special anniversary items to come- so keep checking back in our store.
Next week Friday evening, July 12th, I’ll be at the Schererville Indiana “Hocus Pocus Party in the Park”! I’ll sign autographs and introduce a showing of the bewitching film “Hocus Pocus”. You’ll find information under the “appearances” tab here on our site.
Take a break from your holiday grilling for a grill that is thrilling-tonight on MeTV !