In the mid-1800's a London doctor, Sir Robert Cargrave, gets a message from his former girlfriend, Maude, to help her husband, Baron Sardonicus, who has a horrible affliction. Ever since he retrieved a winning lottery ticket that was mistakingly buried within the coffin of his father, his face has been frozen in a horrible grimace. It is nasty.
Dr. Cargrave is known for his new techniques for muscle relaxation and Sardonicus views him as his last hope. But Sardonicus' mind has also been affected and he's a cruel man. In fact, he tells Cargrave that if his technique doesn't work he'll have his one-eyed assistant, Krull, disfigure her face.
As with most William Castle movies this one has a "gimick" as well. At the end of the movie the audience is given the opportunity to decide Sardonicus' fate via a "Punishment Poll". If they voted thumbs down then it would be for the worst. Of course, almost everyone would vote thumbs down on this despicable character.
Also, if I did not know this was a Castle film, I'd swear it was a Hammer Production, as it has all the key elements of their gothic movies. While actor Guy Rolfe is great as Sardonicus, the big scene stealer is character actor Oskar Homolka as his servant, Krull. There is such unrestrained glee as he tortures a maid with big black leeches!
This movie is part of the WILLIAM CASTLE FILM COLLECTION DVD set.