Black Sunday (AIP Version) [Blu-ray]
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When Mario Bava's groundbreaking Black Sunday was introduced to the U.S. market, American International Pictures retooled the film for the release. In addition to being redubbed in English, the film was given a new musical score and re-edited.
In one of the most auspicious directorial debuts in movie history, Mario Bava bridged the gap between the gothic horror picture and the European art film with Black Sunday (aka La maschera del demonio or The Mask of Satan). Made in 1960 and now considered a cult classic, it continues to reverberate through the cinema, inspiring and influencing new generations of filmmakers.
In an absolutely mesmerizing performance, Black Sunday stars Barbara Steele as Asa Vajda, a beautiful woman tortured and executed as a witch but not before pronouncing a curse upon those who have condemned her, a curse that is fulfilled 200 years later.
Special Features: Mastered in HD from original 35mm elements, Mario Bava theatrical trailers
Top customer reviews
Based on Gogol's story "The Vij," it is a tale of witchcraft and vampirism that transcends centuries. Steele plays two characters, not uncommon for her - an adulterous woman burned as a witch and then a more innocent damsel in distress in the "present." But the witch leveled a curse on those who killed her and two hundred years later, she is determined to seek revenge.
The black and white photography is lovely - a ghostly carriage in the woods surrounded by fog, the cobweb filled crypts, the dead strenuously coming back to life, and the entrance of characters from behind secret passages all give the illusion of a fairy tale. The opening sequence, where the villagers nail a spiked mask on Steele, is pretty intense for the period (the film is also titled "The Mask of the Demon").
The dubbing of this version of the film is not particularly good - hence the four stars instead of five - but the film itself is carefully paced to build excitement and the cinematography remains gorgeous. Like a number of films of the 1960's, "Black Sunday" helped move horror films away from the Universal classics approach and into what we consider modern horror. While not discussed as much as Psycho or the early Hammer films, this remains a classic and a must see for fans of the genre. While Bava and Steele did many other movies after this, they never topped their work on "Black Sunday."
This is a fabulous looking film, loaded with great black and white imagery. It’s moody and gloomy and not nearly as gory as claimed (by today’s standards at least). There’s something very grand about the way Mario Bava approached this well-worn subject. Masterful. Elegant. And fun!