In this 1961 William Castle film based on Ray Russell's novel Sardonicus, Guy Rolfe stars as the wicked Sardonicus, a wealthy count who wears a mask because his face is frozen in a horrifying death grimace. Ronald Lewis stars as Sir Robert Cargrave, a brilliant doctor who is at the top of his field in the early 20th century. A curious letter from his former love, Maude (Audrey Dalton), draws him to Europe where she lives in a remote castle with her brooding husband, his badly scarred, but dedicated man-servant, Krull (Oscar Homolka), and a frightened housekeeper whom Sir Robert finds tied up and covered with leeches. The good doctor soon discovers the truth behind the leeches...and the true nature of his visit when Sardonicus reveals his terrible story: He dug up his father's grave in search of a winning lottery ticket, and upon seeing the corpse, his face muscles froze leaving him looking like a living skull. Dangling Maude as his ransom, Sardonicus forces Sir Robert into attempting a radical treatment to make his face normal again, but even when it is a success, the evil Sardonicus can find no cure from the curse of his father's desecrated corpse. Castle appears in the climax to offer viewers an opportunity to afford additional punishment on Sardonicus which leads to a satisfying conclusion.
by Patrick Legare synopsis