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Black Sunday: Remastered Edition [Blu-ray]

Barbara Steele , John Richardson , Mario Bava    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
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The reigning masterpiece of Italian horror cinema, Mario Bava's Black Sunday remains one of the most stylishly photographed of all horror films, ranking with any other black-and-white film of lasting repute. This was the master cameraman's official directorial debut, and his striking compositions are the work of a genuine artist in peak form. Loosely adapted from a story by Nikolai Gogol, this chilling vampire tale begins in 17th-century Moldavia, where the evil Princess Asa (Barbara Steele) is executed for witchcraft and vampirism, along with her brother Javutich (Arturo Dominici). Two centuries later, a pair of traveling doctors discover Asa's crypt and inadvertently revive the evil princess, whose scheme of vampiric revenge is aimed at her own identical descendant Princess Katia, an innocent beauty (also played by Steele) whose lifeblood will ensure Asa's immortality.

Influenced by Universal's classic horror films of the '30s and British Hammer films of the late '50s, Black Sunday (released in Italy as The Mask of Satan) is a dark fairy tale, with horror queen Steele as the definitive embodiment of erotic horror. With shocking violence (tame by today's standards) and visual emphasis on tombs, secret passages, ominous castles, and unseen forces, the film offers a wealth of memorable imagery and inventive technique. Redubbed, rescored, and harshly edited for its American release in 1961, Black Sunday is presented on DVD in the original English-language director's cut of The Mask of Satan, never before available in the U.S. The perfect movie to watch on a dark and stormy night, this timeless classic is the Citizen Kane of horror films, entirely worthy of its lofty reputation. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

In addition to presenting Black Sunday in the complete English-language director's cut of Mario Bava's The Mask of Satan, this definitive DVD edition of Bava's masterpiece is further blessed by a detailed and highly informative audio commentary by Tim Lucas, editor-publisher of Video Watchdog magazine and the preeminent authority on the career and films of Mario Bava. Engaging and ripe with anecdotal detail and interesting trivia, Lucas's commentary succeeds where so many commentaries fail, offering a definitive supplement to the film itself, and ample justification for the film's ranking as a bona fide masterpiece of horror. Liner notes by Lucas are equally eloquent and authoritative, making this DVD a cornerstone in the collection of any genre enthusiast. --Jeff Shannon

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The heavenly totality of Asa Vadya's eyes June 9 2004
Format:VHS Tape
(...)
This is certainly a minor stylistic masterpiece. It creates atmosphere that is thick, foreboding, and claustrophobic. The story, however, is not worthy of such a lush, lavish treatment. It just doesn't possess any emotional depth. The whole film is Barbara Steele's eyes. They possess power that the film as a whole simply does not. The fog the film is enveloped in is not pervasive enough to mask the bitter emptiness of the tale being conveyed. It is difficult to criticize the film on its cinematic qualities. Nevertheless, the story does not mesmerize, tantalize or excite beyond those moments when Asa is moaning in her blood ecstasy. Indeed, my grandest (futile) wish was for Asa to slaughter them all and then to hit the road looking for more victims to prey upon.
Barbara Steele weeps, shrieks, sighs, faints, screams, moans, gasps, and is undeniably fascinating to watch. She is far more interesting as Asa. As Katia, she is a cipher. She's drained of life and hysterical to boot. Asa has activated her will (if the undead can even be said to possess a will--the will of Satan?). Katia is receptive, helpless and boring. She's just a lonely princess longing for her prince (yawn). It isn't Ms. Steele's fault--the character is simply dismal. She's the "good" girl--she doesn't have to do anything, except mope about in a perfectly awful hairdo. The rest of the cast are perfectly plastic--save for Arturo Dominici as Javutich. He's a fine match for Ms. Steele and wondefully terrible. He has presence that the others lack.
Still, the film is simply gorgeous. The story might not be my glass of Absinthe, but the film is still visually stunning. It lacks emotion and depth--but it makes up for it somewhat in the sheer power of its images. Obvious films that clearly map out the binary opposites at play are just not that intriguing. When you know from the start that virtue will win and evil will be destroyed, it kind of takes the thrill out of the whole thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRAVO BAVA AND STEELE Feb. 3 2004
Format:DVD
If you are a true horror connoseur of great horror films, BLACK SUNDAY or THE MASK OF SATAN, belongs in your repertoire of those films which defined what "horror" movies should be about.
Mario Bava's first film is full of eloquent imagery, darkly atmospheric sets and lighting, and an almost palpable sense of doom. Barbara Steele, who went on with Hazel Court, to be the true scream queens of the sixties, is perfect in the dual role of the witch and her descendant; Bava knew that Steele's beauty is not of the usual kind and he used his lens to soften some of her harshness, but yet to ignite those gorgeous eyes. Steele also knew how to handle the camera, how to peer not only into the eyes of her fellow actors, but into your eyes as well.
John Richardson's boyish handsomeness is a perfect contrast to Steele's dark beauty. (Only complaint about DVD is the obvious dubbing, with "radio dj" voices that at times lessened the impact of the movie). The silent stagecoach ride is as many readers have commented one of the eeriest scenes captured on celluloid.
This is a frightening movie, way ahead of its time, and maintains a crude brilliance that is still penetrating today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bava Lives! Jan. 18 2004
Format:DVD
BLACK SUNDAY (aka THE MASK OF SATAN) marks the directorial debut of prolific horror director Mario Bava, and what a debut! The story, a Gothic masterpiece about vampirism being an extension of Satan worship, is quite interesting. Barbara Steel, the first horror starlet, or scream queen, is amazingly beautiful and quite good as the evil Princess Asa, who curses her family after being condemned as a witch, and Princess Katia, her ancestor. A chairjumper every five minutes! It lulls you asleep and then slaps you awake with the next scary moment. True suspense is being built up as the plot goes along nice and slow (even under an hour and a half!) The whole film is gorgeous and really showed me that a black-and-white movie can be just as scary and cringe-inducing as one in bright color.
Yes, Mario Bava is the founding father of Italian horror as we know it! Not only is he a great director, but he is an excellent cameraman and special effects artist, just to name a few other things he did in his movies. Thanks to Bava, we have masterpieces from other great directors as Dario Argento (SUSPIRIA, DEEP RED, TENEBRE, INFERNO), Lucio Fulci (DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING, ZOMBIE, THE BEYOND), and even Mario's own son Lamberto (MACABRE, A BLADE IN THE DARK, DEMONS 1 & 2). Hell, even the Bavas helped Argento on occasion (Mario directed that awesome underwater sequence in INFERNO, and Lamberto was assistant director on that and TENEBRE). So remember, when you think about how awesome Italian horror movies were back in the day and all the masterpieces that came out of that country, remember Mario Bava. And watch BLACK SUNDAY and all of his other movies!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Brilliant Bava Oct. 26 2003
Format:DVD
Italian director Mario Bava exploded onto the horror scene with the wonderful black and white film "Black Sunday," also known as "The Mask of Satan" (a title I prefer because it does such a better job describing the movie). This picture borrows heavily from a Nikolai Gogol short story called "The Vij," and while I am not familiar with the story, the movie succeeds fantastically at conveying a bleak atmosphere of horror. "The Mask of Satan" was Bava's official directorial debut, giving viewers a chance to see the genius that was to come from this excellent filmmaker. Bava didn't merely direct films, however. He also worked on all aspects of movie making during his long career. The director even helped his son cut his teeth in the business immediately before his death in 1980. Fans will miss Bava terribly after viewing just a few of his films, as he was one of those rare Italian horror directors who could truly deliver the goods.
"Black Sunday," set in Romania, opens at an unspecified date in the seventeenth century. Some of the local nobles decide to get together and roast a couple of Satan's followers, but this barbecue bears a special meaning for the House of Vajda because one of its own is on the spit. The beautiful Princess Asa Vajda fell under the evil spell of the dark one, along with her unseemly lover Javutich, and both now face a painful execution. In order to insure that these two sullied creatures wear the mark of their crimes, Asa's own brother orders a metal mask of Satan nailed to their faces. Unfortunately for the Vajda family, Asa casts a curse on the family immediately before her execution, promising to come back from the dead and plague her relatives throughout the centuries.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Witches and masks and vampires, oh my!
Vampires, witches, gothic castles, crumbling crypts and the odd dead body. If this movie had werewolves, it would be the perfect Halloween movie. Read more
Published 6 months ago by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Brilliant.

This is one of the few classics I'd love to see a REMAKE of.
Published on Aug. 19 2009 by B. Armitage
2.0 out of 5 stars I kept waiting for the "masterpiece" part.
Black Sunday (Mario Bava, 1960)
Black Sunday is the movie Ed Wood always wanted to make. A four-cheese pizza with extra provolone is still not nearly as cheesy as this... Read more
Published on Dec 22 2003 by Robert Beveridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Mario Bava Scared The S**T Out Of Me
Black Sunday(The Mask of Satan) has all the elements of a great horror film. Good story, pacing, simple, but extremely effective special effects, gorgeous black and white... Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars BAVA - HAMMER : 1 - 0
At least, one scene of italian director Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY will haunt your memory for a long time : Javutich, played by a sepulchral Arturo Dominici, kidnaps a doctor and... Read more
Published on June 17 2003 by Daniel S.
4.0 out of 5 stars Black sunday
Scary? No. Beautiful, well done black and white horror film? yes. This DVD was extremely well done for the movies time period. Read more
Published on April 25 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully atmospheric horror
Not quite the classic some would have it (I prefer Bava's BLACK SUNDAY and KILL BABY KILL) but a beautifully atmospheric film, often very inventively shot with one great set piece... Read more
Published on April 10 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece Of Horror
"Black Sunday" is a beautifully filmed horror movie, filled with stunning visual images. The movie successfully combined the gothic sets and black and white cinematography... Read more
Published on March 20 2003 by Michael King
5.0 out of 5 stars An eternal masterpiece !
"Black sunday" is one the best horror movies ever made. The director's debut of Mario Bava is a masterpiece of gothic horror. Read more
Published on March 4 2003 by nussbaum22
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