While visiting Austria to discover his roots, an American student foolishly awakens his notorious ancestor, a baron known for his love of torturing his victims. It falls to young Peter, his uncle and the young curator hired to help restore the baron’s castle to stop Baron Blood before he can unleash a new wave of terror upon the countryside.
Despite being an obvious throwback to the old Hammer films, director Mario Bava’s fingerprints are all over this movie. At times, the direction is the film’s strongest suit – which isn’t usually a good thing. It’s moody, the sets are great and there are plenty of supernatural aspects to the story that are only hinted at. Joseph Cotten is strong as the baron and Elke Sommer works well in her role as well, but beyond that, there isn’t a lot to sink your teeth into. The story is formulaic and a bit stale and there are some seemingly large holes in it that are never explored.
That said, it is – again – a creepy film. It has its share of tense moments and while it may lack the dread of the classic Hammer films or the over the top sensory assault of a lot of Bava’s films, it serves its purpose in keeping you interested until it goes out with a pretty strong finish. It may not be a great film, but it’s definitely worth a watch for fans of both Bava and the old classics. There isn’t enough of either to hook you, but if you already enjoy those two camps of film making, there’s enough here to entertain you.