[[caption-width-right:280:Baron Sardonicus, masked.]]

->''"[[OurGhoulsAreCreepier A ghoul]], as I'm sure you know, is a disgusting creature who opens graves and feeds on corpses."''
-->-- '''Baron Sardonicus'''

''Mr. Sardonicus'' is a 1961 horror film directed by Creator/WilliamCastle and starring Guy Rolfe in the title role. It is based on the short story "Sardonicus" by Ray Russell.

Set in the year 1880, the film follows Sir Robert Cargrave, a renowned surgeon who specializes in paralysis, who receives a letter from his past love Maude and is invited to the mansion of her husband, Baron Sardonicus, in the [[{{Ruritania}} fictional country of Gorslava]].

When he reaches his destination he finds the reason for him to be there; the Baron's face has been paralyzed into a [[http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2364/2186924247_5cb2d6583f.jpg?v=0 horrifying rictus grin]] for many years, and he wants Richard's help. But his face is not the only thing twisted...

As with other William Castle films, the movie's main marketing gimmick was the audience's chance to decide the title character's fate by "penalty poll", the outcome of which supposedly affected the film's ending. Though rumor claims only one ending was actually shot, William Castle claims both were shot and the 'good' ending was just never chosen; given Castle's tenuous relationship with the truth, who knows.

!!Baron Sardonicus grins upon:

%%* AnimalTesting
* AntagonistTitle: Baron Sardonicus is the main villain.
* ColdBloodedTorture: Krull's specialty, which Sardonicus inflicts on women for his own amusement.
* TheDogBitesBack: At the end of the film, [[spoiler:Krull withholds the information that might save Sardonicus' life]].
* DramaticThunder: On the opening credits.
* DrivenToSuicide: Sardonicus' wife (when he was still Marek Toleslawski) took her life when she saw his face.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Krull follows Sardonicus' orders obediently, but has doubts when he is ordered to mutilate Maude's face.
* FakeInteractivity: In the closing "vote on the outcome" footage, the producer actually goes through the motions of calling on specific audience members to hold their cards up higher or otherwise clarify their votes, even though there's no guarantee that, e.g., there'll be a woman in the ninth row to respond to his query.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Marek Toleslawski was a NiceGuy peasant before he was convinced to retrieve a lottery ticket from his father's grave. Afterward, not so much.
* FrozenFace: Sardonicus' [[SlasherSmile Slasheriffic]] NightmareFace, as well as the effect of the handsome mask he wears.
%%* GildedCage
* HenpeckedHusband: Sardonicus was one before the [[RobbingTheDead grave robbing]] incident.
%%* TheIgor: Krull.
%%* LeanAndMean
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent: When Robert arrives at Sardonicus' estate, the windows of the mansion form a skull.
* MeaningfulName: Sardonicus was inspired to pick up his name after reading about [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risus_sardonicus Risus Sardonicus]], aka rictus grin.
* MultipleEndings: The main marketing gimmick for this film. The film itself is a subversion in that only one ending was filmed; the "punishment poll" was entirely meaningless (maybe - see above intro).
* MummiesAtTheDinnerTable: Sardonicus keeps his father's corpse in a locked room.
%%* NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast
%%* NightmareSequence
%%* OminousFog
* TheReveal: Marek Toleslawski revealing his face to his wife Elenka.
%%* RobbingTheDead
%%* {{Ruritania}}
* ScreamDiscretionShot: Done when one of Sardonicus' lady-visitors sees his face.
%%* ScreamingWoman
* StoryBranchFavoritism: Just before the end, producer William Castle appears and asks the audience to hold up cards so as to [[MultipleEndings vote for whether Sardonicus lives or dies]]... but Castle only filmed one ending, assuming (correctly) that [[HumansAreBastards the audience would always choose death]].
%%* TortureCellar
%%* TortureTechnician: Krull.
%%* VictorianLondon
%%* WickedCultured