Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Horror, Mystery  |  12 February 1962 (Denmark)
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Reviews: 72 user | 34 critic

A search for a winning lottery ticket in his dead father's grave causes Sardonicus' face to freeze in a horrible grimace, until he forces a doctor to treat his affliction--with even more ... See full summary »



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Cast overview:
Ronald Lewis ...
Sir Robert Cargrave
Baroness Maude Sardonicus
Baron Sardonicus / Marek Toleslawski
Oskar Homolka ...
Krull (as Oscar Homolka)
Vladimir Sokoloff ...
Henryk Toleslawski
Erika Peters ...
Elenka Toleslawski
Lorna Hanson ...


A search for a winning lottery ticket in his dead father's grave causes Sardonicus' face to freeze in a horrible grimace, until he forces a doctor to treat his affliction--with even more grotesque results! The audience gets an opportunity to vote--via the "Punishment Poll"--for the penalty Sardonicus must pay for his deeds... Written by M.E. Nelson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


YOU decide the fate of Mr. Sardonicus during the "Punishment Poll"! Vote "mercy" or "no mercy" right in your theatre seat! See more »


Drama | Horror | Mystery


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

12 February 1962 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Der unheimliche Mr. Sardonicus  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Sir Robert first arrives at Castle Sardonicus, the castle is in view in the background. The lighted windows make the castle look like a skull. See more »


Sir Robert attempts to shave when he is already clean-shaven to begin with. See more »


Gatekeeper: Sardonicus?
Sir Robert Cargrave: Why were you so frightened?
Gatekeeper: Aah, sir, you would not understand. You are young. You do not yet have daughters!
See more »


Featured in Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (2007) See more »


Foggy, Foggy Dew
(English folk song)
Sung by Ronald Lewis
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Silly Gothic Fun
24 April 2005 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

William Castle usually marketed his movies with gimmicks, and for MR. SARDONICUS the gimmick was "the punishment poll." When the film played in theatrical release, audience members were issued a voting card, and near the movie's conclusion Castle himself appeared on the screen and asked the audience to vote: show the card thumbs up to show mercy, thumbs down for none. Now, in theory, there were two different endings, and the ending shown depended on the audience vote--but no one ever saw the "show mercy" ending and it seems unlikely that it ever existed at all. And you certainly won't find it here: Sardonicus is punished every time.

For once Castle should have left well enough alone. The Punishment Poll is the only seriously weak thing in the entire film, which has a considerably better script and over-all better cast than most Castle outings. The story, which shows influences from everything from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to Dracula to THE MAN THAT LAUGHED, concerns a grotesquely disfigured man who uses his wife to lure a noted specialist to his castle in the wilds of "Gorslavia"--and who then proceeds to make every one's life as miserable as possible, and that's throwing roses at it. Young women are molested, hung from the ceiling, nibbled on by leeches, and threatened with surgery designed to make them look as hideous as Sardonicus himself.

The cast is quite good, with Oskar Homolka a standout as Krull, Sardonicus' equally depraved servant. The lovely Audrey Dalton is also memorable as Sardonicus' unwilling wife. But the real star of the film is the make-up, which was quite famous in its day and is still capable of giving you a jolt. And along the way we're treated to a number of campy Castle flourishes that add to the fun. But MR. SARDONICUS is surprisingly cohesive for a Castle movie, and it moves along at a smart pace and has an interestingly atmospheric look. Most Castle films appeal almost exclusively to fans of cult and B-movies, but just about every one will find this one entertaining. Lots of silly Gothic fun! Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

20 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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replaced line in Wm. Castle's intro? albersbrian
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-handedness? vl2
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