By Dirk Sonniksen | August 21, 2013
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Mario Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua, Ivan Chekhov (story “The Drop of Water”), Marcello Fondato (screenplay), F.G. Snyder (story “The Telephone”), Aleksei Tolstoy (novelette Sem’ya vurdalaka)
Starring: Michéle Mercier, Boris Karloff, Jacqueline Pierreux, Lidia Alfonsi, Mark Damon
In a move that should bring fans closer to Bava nirvana, Kino Classics has released Black Sabbath, Mario Bava’s 1963 horror anthology in its original Italian format, complete with intended score. Considered one of Bava’s best, Black Sabbath includes original versions of “The Telephone,” “The Wurdalak,” and finally, “The Drop of Water.” In addition to these three fantastic horror segments, the European cut includes some comic relief with an introduction and conclusion by Boris Karloff, providing entertaining bookends to the film.
In “The Telephone,” Michéle Mercier stars as Rosy, a prostitute who returns home only to be tormented by a caller with insidious intent. Seemingly safe in her trendy apartment complete with the hippest 60s bed ever, Rosy learns that the caller is Frank, an ex-pimp/escaped convict bent on doing Rosy harm for testifying against him. Terrified, Rosy turns to her “friend” for guidance only to find that things are not what they seem.
From there, Black Sabbath morphs into “The Wurdalak,” our centerpiece and the longest of the three stories. Boris Karloff is Gorcha, the family elder who is MIA during a freakish vampire attack. Upon his return it is obvious that Gorcha is a changed man and not for the better, making the family a bit leery. The tension between the family plays heavily into story with those closest to Gorcha wondering if the old man has been turned.
“The Drop of Water” rounds out the anthology with Jacqueline Pierreux as Helen, a nurse who rips off the wrong dead lady. Helen is called on to prepare a mystic for the afterlife, and realizing the dead don’t need jewelry, she steals a ring that proves to be her undoing. In possession of the ring, Helen’s auditory senses go haywire and the dead lady returns to claim to claim her property.
In the world of anthology horror films, Black Sabbath stands out as one of the finest, a testament to the validity of 60s horror and Bava’s ability to successfully turn one’s psyche upside down via the everyday or the supernatural. Shot in glorious Pathécolor, Black Sabbath features a stellar cast with that eerie 60s horror vibe that we all love, putting it at the top of your must-see-Bava list and making it a fantastic addition to any horror collection, made even more fantastic in eye-popping blu-ray. Get it now!
Rating: 8 of 10