HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Lu Over the Wall
She's Funny That Way
Vox Lux
Aftermath, The
Five Fingers for Marseilles
Jupiter's Moon
Favourite, The
Mysteries of the Gods
Coming Home
De Sade
Patti Cake$
Hellbound
Final Destination 2
Romance
Bros: After the Screaming Stops
Cockleshell Heroes, The
Mule, The
Sunday in the Country
Nutcracker Fantasy
Spellcaster
Hipsters
Executive Action
Captain Marvel
Zombie Girl
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Rhinoceros
Monkey King 3, The
Adventurers, The
Stripped to Kill
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll
Aladdin's Magic Lamp
Christopher Robin
Hole in the Ground, The
Daniel
Blue Christmas
Death Trip
She's Missing
Return of the Soldier
Shaft
Summer Lovers
   
 
Newest Articles
The Hole in the Ground: Director Lee Cronin Interview
She's Missing: Director Alexandra McGuinness Interview
Woo's the Boss: Last Hurrah for Chivalry & Hand of Death on Blu-ray
Get Ahead in Showbiz: Expresso Bongo and It's All Happening
Outer Space and Outta Sight: Gonks Go Beat on Blu-ray
Tucked: The Derren Nesbitt Interview
Locomotion Pictures: The Best of British Transport Films on Blu-ray
Roman Scandals: Extreme Visions from Ancient Rome
Spider-Wrong and Spider-Right: The Dragon's Challenge and Into the Spider-Verse
Monster Dog: Cujo on Blu-ray
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
   
 
  Black Sunday Buy this film here.
Year: 1960
Director: Mario Bava
Stars: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici, Enrico Olivieri, Antonio Pierfederici, Tino Bianchi, Clara Bindi
Genre: Horror, Historical
Rating:  8 (from 5 votes)
Review: One of Italian horror’s most celebrated titles, Mario Bava’s directorial debut still stands as one of the most influential and important post-war genre works and despite its age, stands up well to repeat viewings, even over forty years after its release.

The film opens with Princess Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele) and her brother Prince Vajda (Ivo Garrani), being found guilty of witchcraft and conspiring with Satan. As a result they are punished by having a mask of steel spikes hammered into their faces. Centuries later the Princess’ body is disturbed and resurrected to reap revenge on a distant relative (also played by Barbara Steele) and her family.

A mixture of folk-lore, traditional superstition, and genre convention such as the creepy crypt, the fog bound forest, and carriages driven by cloaked strangers, Bava creates a poetic world that reminds the viewer of Universal’s horror films from the thirties and forties and injects it with a streak of sadistic violence and cinematic style that would come to signify Italian horror cinema for the next thirty years. In fact the film still seems pretty shocking today, particularly in the opening scene of the “mask of satan” being hammered onto Barbara Steele’s face.

An established cinematographer who was renowned for making a film look much better than its meagre budget would anticipate, Bava’s sense of the visual really comes to the fore with his crisp use of black and white photography and use of various cinematic tricks such as the dream-like use of slow-motion in the carriage ride sequence. Every frame is carefully composed, with Bava’s smooth use of tracking shots really making the most of what must have been fairly basic sets. In comparison to the fairly static use of camera in early gothics from the same period such as those by Hammer Films or the work of Roger Corman, Black Sunday really stands out as an incredibly modern piece of film-making.

The film also introduced the world to Barbara Steele, an actress who’s gothic black hair and saucer-like dark eyes made her born to play umpteen evil temptress’ in various genre movies of variable quality for the rest of her career. In fact Steele’s performance is easily the best in the movie; With the rest of the cast largely comprised of square-jawed rent-a-hero types, Steele’s eerie grace as she glides around the castle is as much an indelible image as anything in contemporary horror cinema.

While Bava went on to make better films (Blood and Black Lace, Twitch of the Death Nerve), the impact of Black Sunday on the Italian industry should not be underestimated. It made Italian horror a viable financial option that travelled well internationally (although the film was banned in the UK until the late 1960s) and without Black Sunday it’s possible that much of the genre cinema made in Italy since would simply not have existed.

Aka: The Mask of Satan, La Maschera del Demonio
Reviewer:

 

This review has been viewed 11403 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Mario Bava  (1914 - 1980)

Italian director/writer/cinematographer and one of the few Italian genre film-makers who influenced, rather than imitated. Worked as a cinematographer until the late 1950s, during which time he gained a reputation as a hugely talented director of photography, particularly in the use of optical effects.

Bava made his feature debut in 1960 with Black Sunday/The Mask of Satan, a richly-shot black and white Gothic gem. From then on Bava worked in various genres – spaghetti western, sci-fi, action, peplum, sex – but it was in the horror genre that Bava made his legacy. His sumptuously filmed, tightly plotted giallo thrillers (Blood and Black Lace, Hatchet for the Honeymoon, Bay of Blood) and supernatural horrors (Lisa and the Devil, Baron Blood, Kill, Baby...Kill!) influenced an entire generation of Italian film-makers (and beyond) – never had horror looked so good. Bava’s penultimate picture was the harrowing thriller Rabid Dogs, while his last film, Shock, was one his very scariest. Died of a heart attack in 1980.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
  Derrick Smith
Darren Jones
   

 

Last Updated: