Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Mario Bava's BLACK SABBATH is a beautiful and strangely effective horror film for its time.  It has 'classic' written all over it with a few images that will get stuck in your head and keep you up at night.  The film is a collection of three short stories hosted by Boris Karloff who jokes it up a bit keeping the in between segments light hearted.  The film is dark and shadowy with touches of psychedelic colors splashed in just the right places to add a certain dreamlike quality to the whole production.  Even if you are bored with the stories you cannot help but be impressed by the elaborate sets and engaging camera work.

The first story is the strongest and quiet frankly the scariest.  This one will give you nightmares, folks.  The story is about an elderly woman who has died during a seance and her caretaker is called in to prepare the body during the night for the coroner in the morning.  The caretaker in a moment of weakness steals a ring from the dead woman.  It goes without saying that the dead woman wants her ring back.  Great atmosphere and use of sound makes this one the best of the bunch.

The second story titled "The Telephone" is confusing and not as successful as the first or third story.  A woman gets harassing phone calls from a dead man named Frank who she dated but turned into the police when she found out he was a criminal.  This one left me confused and bored.  By the end I had no idea what just happened or if it happened at all.  It is almost as if they had two different stories that they tried to make one.  Was the woman really harassed by real phone calls from the dead or was it all in her head?  The movie seems to say that both are correct which makes no sense.  Things not making sense seems to be a common occurrence in Italian horror which is why I have a love hate relationship with the genre.

The third story concerning a family in the mountains waiting for their father to return who they fear may have become a vampire is incredibly good.  The atmosphere is laid on thick with sets strangled by barren trees with noodling branches that spread about with no end in sight.  Fog is everywhere.  The story is very dark.  Boris Karloff plays the father who has returned from killing a bandit who was a plague on the countryside a little on the undead side.  One by one he turns his family into vampires too.  Mark Damon plays a traveler who has taken refuge in the family's home before the horror comes.  He tries to save the daughter whom he has fallen in love with.  Finally Mark Damon and Boris Karloff in a film together!  Who would have thought it?  The story is a little more deep concerning the strength of family bonds keeping them together even in death.  The story could have been it's own movie.  Boris Karloff is frightful and menacing as the vampire.  Apparently this is the only film he played a vampire.

After the third story is over the film just ends.  There is no end segment with Boris Karloff wishing us safe travels and to beware of any vampires, mummies or Frankenstein monsters that may be living in our neighborhoods.  I was a little disappointed by that.  Since this is an Italian film I wonder if there are alternate cuts of the film that do not have such an abrupt ending.  Still it is cool that Boris Karloff is in an Italian horror film.  Bava has fun with him but also makes Karloff scary again.  This is a must watch for horror fans.


No comments:

Post a Comment