Black Sunday

Black Sunday

5.0 4
Director: Mario Bava

Cast: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Ivo Garrani

     
 

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Generally considered to be the foremost example of Italian Gothic horror, this darkly atmospheric black-and-white chiller put director Mario Bava on the international map and made the bewitching Barbara Steele a star. Steele plays Princess Asa, a high priestess of Satan who is gruesomely executed in 1600s Moldavia by having a spiked mask hammered into her face. Before… See more details below

Overview

Generally considered to be the foremost example of Italian Gothic horror, this darkly atmospheric black-and-white chiller put director Mario Bava on the international map and made the bewitching Barbara Steele a star. Steele plays Princess Asa, a high priestess of Satan who is gruesomely executed in 1600s Moldavia by having a spiked mask hammered into her face. Before she dies, Asa vows revenge on the family who killed her and returns from the grave two centuries later to keep her promise. In a striking resurrection scene replete with bats, scorpions and fog, Asa rises from the tomb to claim her bloody vengeance. With vampires, bubbling flesh, dank crypts, undead servants and torch-bearing mobs, the plot is a little ripe, but the visuals are Bava's primary consideration. The atmosphere is so heavy and the imagery so dense that the film becomes nearly too rich in texture, but the sheer, ghastly beauty of it all is entrancing. Although this was only the second of Bava's twenty-six films as director, it is undoubtedly his best and the one upon which most of his considerable reputation rests.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
The reign of B-movie "Queen of Horror" Barbara Steele began with Mario Bava's feature directorial debut, Black Sunday (a.k.a. The Mask of Satan). Very loosely based on a story by Gogol, this gothic gem is set in 19th-century Moldavia and revolves around Princess Asa (Steele), an entombed vampire reanimated by a single drop of blood, who seeks vengeance for her death at the hands of the Inquisition two centuries earlier. Steele is mesmerizing as the siren-like villainess who attracts even as she repels, and plays a dual role as Asa's present day, look-alike descendent, Princess Katia. Black Sunday's free mix vampire and witchcraft iconography make for a broader sense of Satanism and the occult that keeps the film from the trappings of genre. But the visual virtuosity of Italian-horror master Bava ultimately eclipses the film's plot: he photographed the film himself in sumptuous black-and-white, creating a lush atmosphere punctuated by inventively staged moments of shock and suspense; more recently, Tim Burton's own Sleepy Hollow saluted Bava's haunting visuals. Black Sunday fits comfortably in the grand horror tradition ranging from German expressionist shockers such as Nosferatu, through the classic Universal Studios horror films of the 1930s, to the gory Hammer films of the late '50s/early '60s.
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
La Maschera del Demonio was released in 1960, the same year as Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, and serves as a primary example of the divergent paths taken by European and American horror films of that era. Where Hitchcock was more concerned with the psychology of the characters in his horror story, Mario Bava seems more concerned with the psychology of the audience, creating a visual feast of the strange and forbidden that unleashes an adolescent-like interest in the unreal world. The film made a star of sorts of the stunningly beautiful Barbara Steele, who agreed to appear in the film without a salary, instead receiving per diem expenses. A note of caution: numerous version of this film exist under various titles, many of them adversely altered by distributors and censors. In whatever form you watch it, La Maschera del Demonio is easily among the most influential films of the Italian Gothic horror era.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/18/2012
UPC:
0738329104122
Original Release:
1960
Rating:
NR
Source:
Redemption
Region Code:
A
Time:
1:27:00
Sales rank:
29,841

Special Features

Audio Commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark; Original theatrical trailers; Original trailers of other Bava films

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Barbara Steele Asa / Katia
John Richardson Dr. Andre Gorobec
Ivo Garrani Prince Vaida
Andrea Checchi Dr. Tomas Kruvajan
Arturo Dominici Javuto
Enrico Olivieri Constantin
Antonio Pierfederici The Pope
Clara Bindi The Innkeeper
Germana Dominici His Daughter
Mario Passante Nikita
Tino Bianchi Ivan
Amy Steel Actor

Technical Credits
Mario Bava Director,Cinematographer,Screenwriter
Baxter Score Composer
Ennio de Concini Screenwriter
Massimo de Rita Producer
Giorgio Giovannini Art Director,Set Decoration/Design
Roberto Nicolosi Score Composer
Mario Serandrei Editor,Screenwriter
Ubaldo Terzano Camera Operator,Cinematographer

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