PLOT: Centuries after a witch and her servant were murdered, she awakens to seek revenge by possessing the body of her ancestor, a beautiful princess.
As this week winds down 31 Days of Horror, I’ve managed to fit some classics in, all of which are first-time viewings. Not only is this the first time I’ve seen Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, but it’s also the first time I’ve watched any movie from the Italian horror icon.
Black Sunday tells the story of a witch (played by the super-gorgeous Barbara Steele) that tries to get revenge on those that killed her centuries ago by trying to possess the body of her ancestor (also played by Steele), who happens to be the princess. It’s a straightforward story about a body coming back to life because of some dimwit, but Bava’s style really sells this one.
Horror movies around this time tend to be pretty stagey, with cheap looking sets and flat cinematography; not this one. Black Sunday is one of the most beautiful-looking black and white films I’ve ever seen. The high contrast art style makes every frame of this movie pop and the camera is more fluid than most films from around that time. This one was a pleasure to watch and one I can see myself revisiting.
All the gore in this movie is put at the front, as the villagers hammer in some Satan masks onto the witch and her servant. It’s pretty gruesome, especially for 1960.
Gore Rating: 3 out of 5
This actually a pretty creepy movie given how old it is. I think Bava does a fantastic job of setting the mood, which helps a great deal.
Scare Rating: 3 out of 5
This was 1960 and Mario Bava’s directorial debut, so you’re not going into this expecting much. You get some cleavage, which I guess is pretty good for the time period, but that’s it. Apparently, actress Barbara SteelE and Bava did not get along due to her inability to understand Italian and her misconceived notions of what Bava would ask her to due in terms of nudity.
Sex/Nudity Rating: 1 out of 5
I absolutely loved Black Sunday. I’m so glad this is one of the last films that I watched for 31 Days of Horror, especially as it became harder and harder to find quality films that I had yet to see. The cinematography is gorgeous, the story is simple enough, and the atmosphere is wonderful. It’s great to visit this and see where one of the true cinematic icons of the genre got his start.