Black Sabbath (1963)

MARIO BAVA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

Italy/France/USA, 1963

Original title:  I Tre Volti Della Paura

, , , , .  Screenplay by Mario Bava, , , based on the stories by , , and the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Mario Bava films three scary stories adapted from horror writers (cleverly billed as Chekhov, Tolstoy and Snyder, the first two not the ones you think they are).   introduces the project in a delightful prelude that then leads to The Telephone, in which  is terrorized by phone calls from a mad person who warns her that she is going to be killed. The result is a twist that makes you remember the old adage “Careful what you wish for,” and isn’t exactly frightening but is certainly engaging. The second tale, The Wurdalak, is the creepiest of the lot, a delicious tale of a family in an isolated cabin in the snowy European woods that doesn’t know if the old man (Boris Karloff) who returns from hunting a vampire has been successful or has become a bloodsucker himself. A Drop Of Water is very tense, focusing on a downtrodden nurse who steals the ring off a dead woman she is asked to prepare for burial and takes on far more trouble than jewelry is worth. Don’t worry if none of these keep you up late (I’m not sure they weren’t all that scary when the film first came out either), it’s a highly enjoyable trilogy that displays Bava’s superb skill with lighting and colour cinematography even when it’s not actually terrifying.

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