The year is 1661, and the Baron Vitelius of Astara (Abel Salazar) is a man accused. Put on trial for being a heretic and “seducing married women and maidens,” among other crimes, he’s sentenced to be tortured.
But he laughs through it all, so he’s sentenced again… this time to be burned alive at the stake.
As the fire surrounds him and death comes ever nearer, the Baron swears to get revenge against the descendants of the Inquisitors. Somehow, he is able to know their identities, despite the fact that their faces are obscured by hoods.
Flash forward to 1961, and the time has come for the Baron to carry out his revenge plot.
El Baron del Terror was directed by Chano Urueta. It’s known in English as The Brainiac and, as of the time of this posting, is available for streaming on US Netflix under that title.
El Baron del Terror is a fun watch. Putting a little twist on the usual revenge story, rather than avenging the death of someone he loved, the Baron is avenging his own death… after returning to Earth 300 years later via comet. He seems to have some sort of odd supernatural power, in order to accomplish this, which lends an interesting angle to the film along with the plot’s connection to religious persecution.
In typical low-budget, mid-century creature feature fashion, the comet itself looks more like a bug splat on a freeway-cruising car’s windshield than an actual comet in the sky.
There’s a fantastic scene of the comet transforming into the monster, though, and I love the monster design. He’s got a pulsing face, a forked tongue (perfect for brain-stealing), and a singed outfit from when he was burned at the stake.
He isn’t in this state all the time — just when he needs a brain — but even when he takes on his suave, suit-dressed human form, he’s got that perfectly zombified, dead-behind-the-eyes look. Props to Abel Salazar for convincingly portraying this singularly-focused killer.
The film can be a tad talky at times (the dialogue runs through the full details of the inquisition at least twice), and it gets a little repetitive (seduce, eat brains, burn, repeat). This leads the pace to drag a bit in the middle.
But, all in all, El Baron del Terror is a sufficiently thrilling monster flick. There are a few genuinely unsettling scenes and several that I found to be brilliantly staged, such as the death of the Baron’s second victim, a woman in a bar.
Part centuries-old revenge tale, part zombie film, El Baron del Terror is incredibly entertaining. I would highly recommend it if you’re interested in an unusual, engrossing, non-Hollywood mid-century horror.