Skip to main content

31 Days of Horror Movies: Mr. Sardonicus



I'm going to crib a bit from David Thiel's blog, and consume the month of October here with a '31-Days-Of' theme. That's right: each day, I'll write a sub-section of a particular topic. The topic/theme this month? Horror movies! Why not, right? It's Autumn, it's October, and Halloween (my favorite holiday) is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate than to single-out some of the best horror films ever made? On that note, here we go....

Mr. Sardonicus

The film is in good ol' black & white, and set during the late 19th century, in one of those quaint but foreboding European towns that so often appear in horror films. It tells the tale of simple farmer Marek Toleslawski. Marek's father buys what turns out to be a winning lottery ticket, but then dies, and the ticket is buried with him. In order to claim the money, Marek must dig-up his father's corpse. In doing so, he comes face-to-face with the dead man, and it sends him shrieking into the night.

Although Marek ultimately retrieves the lottery ticket, his night of grave-drigging has left him permanently scarred: His face is now contorted into that of a grinning skull with skin. His wife kills herself after seeing this disfigurement, and although he is now wealthy, Marek's life is a shambles. He retreats to an old castle, hires the requisite deformed manservant and, somehow, manages to find a new wife. He renames himself Sardonicus, which has Latin origins that eventually trace themselves back to 'sardonic smile.'

The thrust of the film is Sardonicus's quest for physical normalcy. He invites a doctor to the castle to aid in this, and the doctor and Sardonicus's second wife have a history together. Sardonicus has been left twisted and angry by the events of his life, and could most certainly be described as selfish and sadistic. I won't reveal more of the movie, in case you want to see it.

Released in 1961, Mr. Sardonicus comes at the tail-end of of director William Castle's heyday. Known for his penchant for using gimmicks when releasing his films, the gimmick for Mr. Sardonicus involves Castle appearing toward the very end of the film, and offering viewers a choice in how it ends. Rumor has it that only one ending was ever filmed, so the 'choice' was truly a gimmick.

Mr. Sardonicus, like many Castle films, is tame by today's standards, yet it does have a certain horrific charm about it. This is no doubt due to the setting, the direction, and the ghoulish, frozen smile planted on the face of the title character.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

3/4

Ok, we're now three-fourths of the way through this year's calendar, so I thought I'd rank the thirty-eight 2017 movies I've seen so far.

Here they are....


1. A Quiet Passion
2. Baby Driver
3. Dunkirk
4. Get Out
5. Kedi
6. A Ghost Story
7. Wonder Woman
8. Columbus
9. Brad's Status
10. Marjorie Prime
11. Maudie
12. Logan
13. Spider-Man: Homecoming
14. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
15. Brigsby Bear
16. Atomic Blonde
17. The Big Sick
18. Split
19. Kong: Skull Island
20. It
21. Wind River
22. A Cure for Wellness
23. The Hitman's Bodyguard
24. Norman
25. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
26. Logan Lucky
27. Alien Covenant
28. Ghost In the Shell
29. War for the Planet of the Apes
30. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
31. Life
32. Annabelle: Creation
33. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
34. My Cousin Rachel
35. Baywatch
36. The Bye Bye Man
37. mother!
38. It Comes at Night


It will be interesting to see what the last three months of the year brin…

The Best Superhero Movies of All-Time, Revisited

We are just a few days away from the North American release of Avengers:Infinity War. While I am dutifully going to see it opening night, it's not a film I'm looking forward to. It is (spoiler) part one of two, which means we can expect plenty of plot threads left dangling when the credits roll. In other words, part two will probably be better, and provide some actual resolution. Also, Thanos looks like a CGI yawn-fest. Hopefully, I'll be proved wrong.
Nevertheless, this is a good opportunity to rank (again) the major superhero movies (Marvel and otherwise) that we've had so far. As you know, I love making a list, and this one is going to be a definitive one! If you don't see a film on here, it's because I haven't seen it (the first two Thors, Iron Man 2, some of the X-Men features, etc.).   Alright, here we go.

Walk and Chew Gum

Yesterday marked a touchstone moment in the U.S., as students across the country participated in "walkouts." This was an occasion for students to express an array of thoughts and emotions, ranging from a desire for stricter gun control, to simply sorrow over the loss of so many of their peers to school shootings. They were peaceful protests, but protests nonetheless. Where you're at on the spectrum of agreeing or disagreeing with what they did may vary, though not wanting to get shot in your school seems pretty reasonable to me.
Some folks have taken to sharing a meme on social media platforms this week -- in direct anticipation and response to the walkouts -- that encourages students to "walk up, not out." Following are suggestions provided for the walk ups:

Walk UP to the kid who sits ALONE and ask him to join your groupWalk UP to the kid who never has a voluntary partner and offer to be hersWalk UP to your teachers and thank them!Walk UP to someone and JUST …