Mr Sardonicus Blu-ray Review – 1961 Rather Good William Castle Horror

Are you ready for another of William Castle’s horror offerings? This one comes as part of Powerhouse Films volume one William Castle boxset and stars Guy Rolfe and Ronald Lewis. Castle’s gimmick for this one is “The Punishment Poll” in which audiences were asked to vote on the ending. But were really two endings? It seems rather unlikely, so without further ado here’s the Mr Sardonicus blu-ray review.

  • Mr Sardonicus (1961)
  • Part of the William Castle Volume One Boxset
  • Genre: Horror
  • Directed by William Castle
  • UK Rating 12
  • Discs: 1
  • Released By Powerhouse Films aka Indicator
  • Blu-ray Released: 22 October 2018


The year is 1880 and prominent London physician Sir Robert Cargrave (Ronald Lewis) has just received an urgent request for his medical services from Baron Sardonicus (Guy Rolfe). The Baron suffers from a strange condition that keeps his face hidden behind a mask.

Style / Direction

The film was directed by William Castle with the cinematography handled by Burnett Guffey. It’s a black and white film and one that is not only introduced by Castle but also concludes with another of his gimmicks asking the audience to vote on the ending before proceeding to show it. Nobody remembers there actually being another ending and it probably wouldn’t have been logistically or financially viable at the time.

Music / Audio Effects

The music is composed by Von Dexter and works well enough to convey the moments of high drama.

Acting / Characters

The strong casting of Guy Rolfe and Ronald Lewis really pays off and has no small part into making this a thoroughly entertaining horror film. Both actors play their roles deadly serious which really helps to draw the audience in whilst a flashback scene shows a more compassionate Baron. Then there’s the rather strange servant Krull (Oskar Homolka), who himself is disfigured and seems prepared to do almost anything his master requests. This all adds to the overall unease and sinister nature the film has as the story unfolds.


  • Guy Rolfe as Baron Sardonicus
  • Ronald Lewis as Sir Robert Cargrave
  • Audrey Dalton as Maude Sardonicus
  • Oskar Homolka as Krull
  • Vladimir Sokoloff as Henryk Toleslawski
  • Erika Peters as Elenka
  • Lorna Hanson as Anna

Conclusion: Mr Sardonicus (1961) Film Review

There’s little doubt that Mr Sardonicus is an intriguing yet disturbing tale that’s both well told and acted. That said Castle’s insistence on the gimmick to sell his movies doesn’t in my opinion improve this picture. I did find myself enjoying it though and recommend you take a look at this one. This is however one of Castle’s better efforts in my humble opinion.

Mr Sardonicus blu-ray review

If you like my Mr Sardonicus blu-ray review you may want to check out these films:

Conclusion: Mr Sardonicus Blu-ray Review

This is yet another excellent Bluray release from Powerhouse that delivers a fabulous film print and a whole host of interesting extras. I recommend taking a look at all of the extras but the must see feature has to be Jonathan Rigby’s feature “Gothic Castle”.

I always find his views thoroughly interesting and informative. In fact if you do like his analysis I’ll link his book American Gothic in the Amazon links below.


  • Audio Commentary
  • Gothic Castle with Jonathan Rigby (28 mins)
  • The Punishment Poll (6 mins)
  • Taking the Punishment Poll (8 mins)
  • Isolated Music & Effects Track
  • Original Trailer
  • Promotional Materials Gallery
  • Reversible Sleeve
  • 36 Page Booklet

Popcorn Cinema Rating: Mr Sardonicus (1961)




Mr Sardonicus (1961) is available now on Blu-ray from Amazon.

The Amazon links on this page are affiliate / associate links. By buying through the links we may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price you pay.

Mr Sardonicus (1961) Trailer

For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster…

Clip not be representative of the blu-ray version

That concludes my Mr Sardonicus blu-ray review, don’t forget to keep a look out for the rest of the William Castle boxset reviews.

What Do You Think?
Summary: Mr Sardonicus (1961) Blu-ray Review
Mr Sardonicus (1961) Blu-ray Review

Movie title: Mr Sardonicus (1961)

Duration: 90 mins

Director(s): William Castle

Actor(s): Guy Rolfe, Ronald Lewis, Audrey Dalton, Oskar Homolka, Vladimir Sokoloff, Erika Peter, Lorna Hanson

Genre: Horror

  • Movie Rating
  • Blu-ray Picture Rating
  • Extras


An intriguing yet disturbing tale accompanied by Castle’s customary publicity gimmick.


  • Good Story
  • Well Acted
  • Fabulous Bluray / Extras


  • None