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Monday, October 09, 2006


Directed by Mario Bava

This is the story of Princess Asa and her lover man Javuto who, as the fable informs us, were quite a pair in 17th Century Moldavia. They dabbled in witchcraft and were put to death by hooded inquisitors in a gruesome manner. The movie begins with the execution of Asa (played by Barbara Steele in her first horror role) and just before the sentence is handed down she spits out a curse on her brother, who is there at the grim torch lit proceedings to convey his condemnation, then the mask of Satan, with spikes on the inside, is nailed to her face and a violent storm erupts. Quite a beginning to quite a movie. It's supposedly based on the Gogol story "The Vij" which is a truly bizarre bit of Russian horror about a man praying in a church over the dead body of a witch while demons from Hell torment him and the coffin where she lies flies around in the air. None of that happens in "Black Sunday" but there is plenty of atmosphere in the form of cemetery ruins, spectral coach and horses soundlessly thundering along in slow motion, and spooky walks through the woods. Barbara turns in a double performance as both the resurrected witch and her descendent Princess Katia who is drained vampire style by her evil ancestor. This was also Mario Bava's first official directorial gig and I've yet to see another one of his films that comes close to it. My favorite line comes from the resurrected Asa as she lies on her burial slab and writes full of hunger, "Come kiss me, my lips will transform you". That, my friends, is perhaps the greatest come hither request that I've ever heard.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

can you stop posting about your girlfriend barbara steele ;)


9:31 AM  
Blogger pee money said...

Two quick notes. One: the scene with the spiked mask is, for me, the very essence of horror. Two: Although I like Barbara Steele just fine, my vote for greatest scream queen goes to Soledad Miranda.

As always, enjoying your posts. My hope is that you eventually expand this list to 100, or even 200, entries.

12:03 PM  

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