Arrow Video have released this Mario Bava 1972 horror film onto special edition Blu ray with 3 versions of the film all in HD, Bava’s original version Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga with Italian audio, The European Export Version of Baron Blood with English audio, and, on home video for the first time, the re-edited and re-dubbed AIP Version of Baron Blood with alternate score by Les Baxter.
Antonio Cantafora stars as Peter Kleist, an American student who has finished a master’s degree and is excited to take some time off to get back to his roots. In particular, he’s fascinated by Baron Otto von Kleist, Austria’s legendarily murderous ‘Baron Blood’. After meeting with Eva Arnold (Eike Sommer), an architect charged with restoring the building they decide to try and revive the baron by reciting an ancient incantation. What they do not realise is that it worked and the revived baron (Joseph Cotten) goes about continuing his murderous mayhem.
Bava had a big hit with his earlier Black Sunday and here in colour has a lot of fun with the wicked Baron, played with glee by veteran actor Joseph Cotton. This film, however, is no-where near as enjoyable as Black Sunday, the horror elements seem a little pedestrian at times and the middle section seems very slow and ponderous. The photography as you would expect is fabulous with great colours and atmosphere, the chase in the fog is particularly memorable. The acting is ok for this sort of film but the characters are very one dimensional so you don’t really get to care what happens to them very much.
Overall an entertaining Italian horror and Bava fans will be overjoyed seeing one of the directors most successful film in HD.
Arrow has yet again gone all out to give a fantastic package filled with extras. As mentioned earlier there are 3 different edits of the film, I preferred watching it with the English language as that seemed to match the lip movements for most of the film. The HD 1080P transfer is good, sometimes soft but grain is intact. The alternate score by Les Baxter is very good, it gives a slightly different atmosphere to the film.
Extras include an informative if a little dry audio commentary by Bava expert Tim Lucas, a brief Introduction to Baron Blood by author and critic Alan Jones, Ruggero Deodato interview in which he talks about Mario Bava and the golden age of Italian genre film, Mario Bava at work – a fabulous photo gallery of Bava behind the scenes on his films as well as trailers and radio spots.
While not the best of the director Baron Blood is worth a look to see the fantastic cinematography and another fascinating slice of 70’s Italian horror.
FILM: 5.5 OUT OF 10
VIDEO: 6.5 OUT OF 10
AUDIO: 7 OUT OD 10
EXTRAS: 7 OUT OF 10