Made ten years apart, these Jess Franco films star Howard Vernon in stories about perverse aristocrats who whip and torture naked people. It’s what happens when you have too much time on your hands. The incurably tasteful would insist that too much time is what you need to sit through such provocative trash, but we’ll try to explain the hypnotic allure.
Those who think of Franco as a slipshod, style-free hack would be bowled over by the widescreen black-and-white photography and elegant, arty tone of The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus, a French-Spanish co-production set in a German town upset by the murders of several women. Between Godofredo Pacheco’s camera and Daniel White’s diverse jazz/classical/avant-garde score, they might think Franco’s bringing too much taste, for the first hour and 20 minutes are calm, polite, and even plodding in its investigation, albeit beautifully composed and shot with sleek cat-like movements.