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If you dig Mario Bava, you'll love this Blu-ray - if not, steer very clear....
Kino / 98 Minutes / 1972 / Unrated / Street Date: December 11, 2012
Is Mario Bava the Ed Wood of the international arthouse? I suppose movies like Baron Blood were never exactly cinephilic affairs, but Bava remains notable as a horror figure the way Antonioni and Lina Wertmuller stand as cinematic figureheads of the 70s. In any case, whether an argument can be made for the shlock-meister or not, trying to get through Baron Blood is an exercise in frustration and hep yet ultimately yawn-inducing mundanity.
Bava doesn't spend much time at all dealing with story here - he sends Antonio Cantafora on a trip to Austria to investigate his familial roots, and this takes him to the mysterious estate of Otto von Kleist (our title dude) - and this turns out to be a successful choice, because there really isn't much under the movie's hood in any major narrative sense. There's a hot chick with a Twiggy wardrobe, some looming, shadowy canted shots, and loud music stingers when creepy things happen: the end.
As indifferent as I was to Baron Blood, though, there's no mistaking an auteur stamp here, which made me hearken to figures like Fellini or Bergman while I was watching it. I suppose a giant compliment one can give to a film (and its director) is when it's instantly identifiable as someone's creation. With L'avventura, or Red Desert, you can't miss their sheer Antonioni-ness - and for better and (mostly) for worse, Baron Blood has Bava written all over it.