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La Mano de un Hombre Muerto

The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus
Le Sadique Baron Von Klaus

Spain/France 1962
produced by
Albatros C.P.C., Eurocineac
directed by Jess Franco
starring Howard Vernon, Hugo Blanco, Gogó Rojas (as Gogo Robins), Fernando Delgado, Paula Martel, Ana Castor, Turia Nelson, Georges Rollin, Serafin García Vázquez, Ángel Menéndez, María Francés, Manuel Alexandre, José Luis Coll, Miguel Madriod], José Bast, José Bastida
screenplay by Rene Sébille, based on a novel (?) by Daniel Khune (= Jess Franco), music by Daniel J. White

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Someone's killing the nice girls of Holfen, Germany one by one, and in no time becomes a story big enough to not  only interest the local police inspector Borowsky (Georges Rollin) but also to jornalist Karl Steiner (Fernando Delgado). With the help of psychoanalyst Dr Kallmann (Ángel Menéndez) it doesn't take them long to link the case of the murders of Baron Von Klaus ... but that said, that was 150 years or so ago, so that rules Baron Von Klaus out as the murderer - well, that Baron Von Klaus anyways, he still has two ancestors, Max (Howard Vernon) and his nephew Ludwig (Hugo Blanco) living at his estate. Initially, all the evidence points to Max, and Steiner helps the professor to have him arrested, but immediately after the arrest starts to have his doubts and tracks down a witness (his mistress) to testify for him for the time of a certain murder. Of course, the pure fact that another murder happens while Max is still in jail also helps. Steiner now focusses his investigations on Ludwig ... who of course is the killer, and who manages to snatch a key witness - his mistress - away from the police and kill her under their very noses. But Steiner has made friends with Karine (Paula Martel), Ludwig's fiancée, and he persuades her to lure Ludwig out of the Von Klaus mansion so he can give the torture dungeon a good lookover - now the plan works well, apart from the fact that Ludwig has grown wise to Karine's betrayal and now wants to kill her ... and now it takes a concerted effort from Steiner, Max and the police to prevent him from doing so. Finding himself cornered, Ludwig decides to make the local swamp his watery grave, just like his ancestor.


The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus shows Jess Franco on his directorial best: The film is very elegantly filmed, every frame is pretty much oozing with atmosphere and has an incredibly gothic feel to it - and yet everything feels very fresh and timeless, spunky if you may. And even a torture scene in the Von Klaus dungeon that features a topless girl (almost unheard of back in 1962) is beautifully laid out, well integrated into the film, and obviously much more than cheap sensationalism ... and that said, The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus is decidedly a less than great film. Basically, the narrative lacks stringency, suspense scenes are few and far between, and on top of that the characters are uniformly flat. Plus, for a murder mystery it's disappointingly easy to guess the killer.

It's still worth watching for 1960's genre afficionados at least, and probably better than quite a few of maestro Mario Bava's films, it's just nowhere near as great as it could have been with a decent script.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD