Baron Blood (1972)

Director: Mario Bava

The Arrow DVD booklet essay makes a case for this being Mario Bava’s “last” film, which is an interesting perspective, I suppose. No one knew at the time, of course, that the 70s wouldn’t treat him too well (he would hardly be alone in that, either); back in 1972 it appears to have just seemed like a throwback. The gothic manner was fading as times and tastes changed; the booklet essay also remarks on Hammer’s efforts at the same time, and compares Baron Blood‘s attempt to bring the traditional gothic into the modern world with some of theirs. In short: young man travels to Austria on a matter of family historical research, being particularly interested in an ancestor of his known as “Baron Blood” owing to his fondness for, you know, making people bleed. The baron’s castle is being turned into a hotel, but the baron himself—inadvertently revived by the idiot young man, who thinks it might be fun to see if a spell handed down in the family to bring the old boy back to life actually works (which it does, obviously)—has other ideas, to restore the old place back to its former glories… including the, er, period fittings that still lurk in the basement. Bava actually didn’t want to make the film—not least because the production company insisted on actual location shooting in Austria—but since other jobs weren’t forthcoming (thanks to younger guns like Dario Argento getting them instead) he took it… and yeah, maybe it’s a little bit flat and the enthusiasm’s not 100% there, but it’s still well enough done on the whole (the chase scene through the foggy night is particularly good, and the castle setting is stunning) that I found it hard to understand the general negative reaction to it over the years (admittedly I actually wasn’t a big admirer of it when I first saw it ten years ago, I liked it better tonight). I mean, yeah, it was something of a throwback (especially for Bava, the film is riddled with instances of him quoting his own past works), but I don’t think there’s anything that inherent wrong with it. I suspect it’s just one of those otherwise perfectly OK films whose only real problem is that they’re not quite as good as other films from their director…

Written for the 4th Annual Italian Horror Blogathon at Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies

One thought on “Baron Blood (1972)

  1. Kevin J. Olson October 26, 2013 at 4:33 am

    Okay, hopefully you don’t get multiple comments as I tried leaving a comment earlier, and it wouldn’t post for some reason.

    Anyway, I feel the same about Shock that you do about this one: it’s not the most celebrated Bava film (some don’t even really consider it a “true” Bava film), but damn do I love it.

    I haven’t seen Baron Blood in a long time, but I know it’s on Amazon Instant, so perhaps I’ll give it a view this weekend.

    Thanks for these reviews! I hope there’s more; I always enjoy reading your stuff.

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