6.7/10
1,769
73 user 36 critic

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

Approved | | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 12 February 1962 (Denmark)
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 »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (novel)
Reviews
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Homicidal (1961)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The brutal stabbing murder of a justice-of-the-peace sparks an investigation of dark family secrets in a sleepy small town in Southern California.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Glenn Corbett, Patricia Breslin, Eugenie Leontovich
13 Ghosts (1960)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A family inherits what proves to be a haunted house, but a special pair of goggles allows them to see their ghostly tormentors.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Charles Herbert, Jo Morrow, Martin Milner
Macabre (1958)
Certificate: Passed Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A doctor's daughter is kidnapped and buried alive, and he is given just five hours to find and rescue her.

Director: William Castle
Stars: William Prince, Jim Backus, Christine White
The Tingler (1959)
Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An obsessed pathologist discovers and captures a parasitic creature that grows when fear grips its host.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman
Strait-Jacket (1964)
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

After a twenty-year stay at an asylum for a double murder, a mother returns to her estranged daughter where suspicions arise about her behavior.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson
Comedy | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

An American who sells cars in England receives a mysterious invitation from an old, eccentric millionaire to visit his house in which he lives with his twin brother.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Tom Poston, Robert Morley, Janette Scott
Zotz! (1962)
Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Jonathan Jones, a professor of ancient languages, comes into possession of an ancient coin. He translates its inscription, which gives him three powers: to inflict pain, slow down time or ... See full summary »

Director: William Castle
Stars: Tom Poston, Julia Meade, Jim Backus
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A woman is haunted by recurring nightmares, which seem to be instigated by her late husband who supposedly was killed in a fire.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Judi Meredith
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Teenagers Libby and Kit innocently spend an evening doing random crank calls. These calls lead to murderous consequences.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Joan Crawford, John Ireland, Leif Erickson
Adventure | Comedy | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.2/10 X  

While attending a school for diplomats' daughters, the teen-aged daughter of the American ambassador uses her access to various embassies to engage in espionage.

Director: William Castle
Stars: Murray Hamilton, Joyce Taylor, Hugh Marlowe
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A wheelchair-bound young woman returns to her father's estate after ten years, and although she's told he's away, she keeps seeing his dead body on the estate.

Director: Seth Holt
Stars: Susan Strasberg, Ann Todd, Ronald Lewis
Crime | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In 1828 Scotland, Edinburgh surgeon Dr. Knox does medical research on cadavers he buys from murderers Burke and Hare, without questioning the unethical procurement methods.

Director: John Gilling
Stars: Peter Cushing, June Laverick, Donald Pleasence
Edit

Cast

Cast overview:
...
Sir Robert Cargrave
...
Baroness Maude Sardonicus
...
Baron Sardonicus / Marek Toleslawski
...
Krull (as Oscar Homolka)
...
Henryk Toleslawski
...
Elenka Toleslawski
Lorna Hanson ...
Anna
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

During the running of the film,the "Punishment Poll" lets YOU decide the fate of Mr. Sardonicus! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Mystery

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

12 February 1962 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Der unheimliche Mr. Sardonicus  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

William Castle: [gimmick] During its initial theatrical release, attendees were given small white cards with luminous thumbs with which to vote thumbs-up or thumbs-down. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Featured in Wiseguy: A One Horse Town (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Surprsingly literate and effective shocker
13 April 2009 | by (Whiting, Indiana) – See all my reviews

Of the William Castle films with which I'm familiar, "Sardonicus" is definitely the best. If you strip away some of the schlocky "padding" (the maid with the leeches, the "beauty contest" in the cellar, etc) you have a remarkably effective and entertaining film. Ray Russell's plotting and dialog are pretty high quality stuff, and some of the conversations have an almost poetic quality, especially in the scenes between Guy Rolfe and Ronald Lewis.

Of course, the dialog is all the more effective when delivered by a fine cast, and the stately, urbane Rolfe, the amiable and stalwart Lewis and the delightfully quirky and sinister Oscar Holmolka elevate this film FAR above its low-budget liabilities. Castle's direction is more than competent, my only complaint being the overly bright lighting throughout the castle interior, which robs many scenes of their creepy potential.

THEN THERE IS THE GRAVEYARD SCENE----a masterpiece of its type in the annals of horror films. Acting, direction, cinematography, etc ALL rise to the occasion, with the shocking revelation within the coffin and the psychological dimension of its effect on Marek/Sardonicus producing a scene which is as horrifying and disturbing as it is memorable; it's impossible to describe--you simply have to see it yourself. And the trauma continues as Guy Rolfe stumbles home in the dark, sobbing pathetically, where his wife (and we the viewer) first discovers his hideous deformity. I initially saw this film on TV when I was 20 years old and it STILL scared the crap out of me! Thank God I didn't see it when it was first released.

HERE'S A THOUGHT--- the shot of Sardonicus' father's corpse is so profoundly upsetting (to US as viewers as well as Guy Rolfe in the film)that I don't believe it was designed and created by Castle and his team; I bet anything that they "FARMED OUT" this shot to an effects team in Mexico--where the horror effects artists were FAR better at creating visuals of this sort. The final shot of the coffin lid opening (all the more creepy since it appears to open BY ITSELF)is interesting; if you look closely, you will notice that this is a DIFFERENT coffin lid than the one in the previous shots; the pattern of dirt and mold is different, as are the seams between the wooden planks. When the father's remains turn up later in the shocking padlocked-room scene, it's clear that the quality of workmanship is nowhere near as good as the coffin figure, instead appearing to be the sort of effect that Castle's production team would have created from their modest budget. I imagine that it's impossible to ever know whether or not my idea is correct, since too much time has passed since the film was made.

Many people make a big deal about the "Punishment Poll" gimmick for the film, but it's really just a distraction for any serious viewer; too bad that Castle's 11th-hour on-screen appearance breaks the mood just prior to the classically understated irony of the final scene.


9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?