Black Sunday: Remastered Edition [Blu-ray]
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Black Sunday: Remastered Edition [Blu-ray]
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 --This text refers to an alternate Blu-ray edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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!
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.
While Black Sunday (originally titled ‘The Mask of Satan’), being released in 1960, does not employ the extreme graphic violence that would later manifest with the genre, it does have its share of the macabre and interesting visuals.
The opening witch-burning sequence is by far the film’s most memorable moment, and it’s most gruesome -- the sadism towards women is already beginning. We see the bare back of the witch branded, then in amazement, I watched as the ‘Mask of Satan,’ which is lined on the inside with nails is placed over the witches face as her head rests against the stake and then pounded home with an enormous wooden mallet by a muscled, black-hooded executioner. In a black-and-white film from 1960. Having shouted out, “NO THEY DIDN’T!!!…” I had to rewind the shot a couple times.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the film plays more like a Scooby Doo episode with some of the most absolutely braindead detective work of all time on display, but from what I gather, the Italian horror films are more about atmosphere and images than good acting and well written plots. Black Sunday is loaded with morbid atmosphere as a doctor discovers the dead witch’s crypt and, after being attacked by a ridiculous looking fake bat, is compelled to pry the mask off to reveal her insect-covered face with gaping eye sockets. There are many underlying necrophilia currents and later in the film he kisses the dead-for-two-hundred-years-nail-hole-havin'-face witch.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Vampires, witches, gothic castles, crumbling crypts and the odd dead body. If this movie had werewolves, it would be the perfect Halloween movie. Read morePublished 21 months ago by EA Solinas
Vampires, witches, gothic castles, crumbling crypts and the odd dead body. If this movie had werewolves, it would be the perfect Halloween movie. Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2014 by EA Solinas
This is one of the few classics I'd love to see a REMAKE of.
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
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... Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2003 by Jeffrey Leach
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 morePublished on Aug. 1 2003
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 morePublished on June 17 2003 by Daniel S.
Scary? No. Beautiful, well done black and white horror film? yes. This DVD was extremely well done for the movies time period. Read morePublished on April 25 2003
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 morePublished on April 10 2003