Another one from the vintage era of horror. Filmed in 1960 by Italian master of early horror, Mario Bava (Later responsible for the film Black Sabbath) on black and white film this is a definite fore-runner to modern horror. Considering this is Bava’s first real film, this is a superb effort. Main actress Barbara Steel looks stunning as the witch, Asa and later on as the princess Katia.
THE PLOT OF BLACK SUNDAY
Black Sunday opens up in fine style with a witch trial / execution in Eastern Block Europe. I have to say in this instance the black and white really adds an air of tension and mystery to proceedings. The dialogue in the initial scene is excellent. It really sets the mood for the rest of the film. After the initial scene the movie cuts in 200 or so years later with some travellers passing through the same area on their way to Moscow. The horse and carriage they are in of course breaks down in the forest. The pair of travellers leave their driver to fix the carriage and discover a crypt in the forest where the witches killed in that forest were buried. Have the pair set in motion something they are unaware of by disturbing the long since vacated crypt?
The pair move on from the crypt they are greeted by a princess whose family own the land. She bears a striking resemblance to one of the slain witches. What bearing does this have? Its not long before the actions of our two travellers bring about the rebirth of the old evil trapped within the tomb.
Like I’ve said so many times before, movies like this rely on atmosphere, acting and dialogue rather than flat out gore. Black Sunday is no exception to that rule. Some rather primitive precursors to actual gore are in this film but aside from that nothing that would really offend anyone except the religious overtones through out the film. The horror effects portrayed in the film are also done rather well. Granted its black and white and not the same resolution as modern horror, so you can get away with more. But everything seems to fit in well and not take anything away from the film. Many older horror films in my opinion have this problem, the bits that are meant to be scary just ruin the flow of the film due to the effects looking dated.
If you like the old “Hammer Horror” features this one should be right up your alley. It feels much like a vampire film of hammer vintage. Mix that in with some zombie action and you have an idea. Though I think this one pushes the envelope a little more than the fare around at the time. The movie was cut with some of the more violent scenes removed for release in America. Some European countries even banned the film.
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