Sunday, October 27, 2013

Horrors of October 2013 - Black Sunday (#27)

Black Sunday (1960)

Two intrepid doctors mess around with a tomb encasing a condemned Satanic vampire (or is it a blood-sucking witch?), thus allowing her to exact the curse she placed on her own family line. This is probably my favorite Mario Bava film, even with the substandard English dubbing added to it. He perfectly directs and captures the spirit and horror of old Gothic tales while also tinkering with then forbidden film taboos like gore and incest. The opening witch trial is the most captivating moment, where the camera gives you every angle of the spiked mask of Satan that is about to be impaled into the female defendant. Bava uses many special effects to generate frights, often using the darkness of the frame as the entrance for the terrors. But no scare can compare to the many shots of the lovely Barbara Steele, dually playing the vampire/witch and her future descendant, laying motionless in a grave. Whether it's the inner organs reforming within her body shell after some blood spillage, her scorpion friends, or those soul-piercing eyes, never has a stationary human character been so frightening. There are some silly errors, namely the required love story and a fight with a huge fake bat, but those can't entirely stop the effectiveness of this black-and-white classic.


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