Gimmick maestro William Castle (HOUSE ON HAUTED HILL) delivers more hokey horror fun with this unusual film. Guy Rolfe stars as the title character, whose face has frozen into a hideous grin after digging up his father's grave for a winning lottery ticket. Hiding his twisted face behind a mask, Sardonicus conducts bizarre experiments to restore his face with the help of his sadistic one-eyed servant Krull (Oscar Homolka) and various beautiful women. When these attempts fail he lures a doctor (Ronald Lewis) out to the castle to force him to perform surgery, with even more shocking results.
The gimmick for this one was the "Punishment Poll." Audiences were given glow-in-the-dark "thumb cards" with which they flashed at the screen at the climax. Supposedly two different versions of the end were shot and would be played according to whether the majority of cards read thumbs up (he lived) or thumbs down (he survived). Castle was careful to make Sardonicus pretty dislikable, and no one has seen the version where he lives, if one was even shot. Screenwriter Ray Russell based this on his own story, SARDONICUS.
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