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MR. SARDONICUS (1961) – Episode 128 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

‘I’m a man of all works, sir. When my Master says, “Krull, do this thing,” I do the thing, whatever it may be.’ And then there are the things Krull does that his master doesn’t tell him to do. Join this episode’s Grue-Crew – Whitney Collazo, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, and Jeff Mohr – as they experience the Punishment Poll (or is it “Pole?”) in William Castle’s Mr. Sardonicus (1961).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 128 – Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

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Synopsis: 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!

Mr. Sardonicus, an underrated William Castle film, is Chad’s pick; he had not seen the movie all the way through until now. He doesn’t appreciate Castle interrupting the buildup to the climax by delivering his Punishment Poll gimmick, but Chad still thinks this is one of the Castle’s best movies. For him, Mr. Sardonicus has a different feel from Castle’s earlier films and he loves the makeup.

Daphne agrees with Chad regarding the break right before the climax and she also observes that Mr. Sardonicus deals with some sensitive subjects, making it more mature than much of Castle’s work. She loves the mask Sardonicus wears and finds his character to be really evil – a proper bad guy. The story is a bit confusing to Whitney even though she finds the movie to be well-paced. The use of light and shadow also draws her attention in several scenes. Jeff is impressed with Ray Russell’s screenplay, the cast, the cinematography, and both the mask and the makeup.

Check out these other Decades of Horror podcasts on William Castle’s work:

Also, if you’re so inclined, check out Grue-Believer Scot’s “erratically published” blog, Saturday Mad Theater

If you’ve never viewed Mr. Sardonicus, or haven’t seen it for a while, the Classic Era Grue-Crew recommends you remedy that situation. At the time of this writing, Mr. Sardonicus is available to stream from the Classic Horror Movie Channel. As physical media, the film is available as a bare-bones Blu-ray in William Castle Double Feature – Homicidal & Mr. Sardonicus from Sony Pictures Home.

Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era records a new episode every two weeks. Up next in their very flexible schedule is one chosen by Jeff: The Crawling Eye (1958, original title: The Trollenberg Terror).

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To each of you from each of us, “Thank you so much for listening!

Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long-time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an Old Boy. Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is a co-host of the Decades of Horror podcasts - The Classic Era, 1970s, and 1980s - and the Gruesome Magazine Podcast.