Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Original title: I Tre Volti Della Paura
Emmepi Cinematografica, Galatea Film, Alta Vista Film Production, Alta Vista Productions, Societé Cinématographique Lyre. Screenplay by Mario Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua, Marcello Fondato, based on the stories by Ivan Chekhov, F.G. Snyder, and the novel by Aleksei Tolstoy. Cinematography by Ubaldo Terzano. Produced by Salvatore Billitteri, Paolo Mercuri. Music by Les Baxter, Roberto Nicolosi. Production Design by Riccardo Domenici. Costume Design by Tina Grani. Film Editing by Mario Serandrei.
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). Boris Karloff introduces the project in a delightful prelude that then leads to The Telephone, in which Michèle Mercier 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.