Black Sunday (aka La Maschera Del Demonio)

JUNE 23, 2007


It must have been great to be around in 1960 when Black Sunday was first released (under the title Mask of Satan). Nowadays, “gore” is something to be expected, but back then, when folks died they did so without blood (or off camera entirely). This was one of the first films to show the graphic outcome of certain actions, such as hammering a mask full of interior spikes into someone’s face.

Not that the movie is a gorefest. It’s mainly about some folks running around a castle/graveyard/other typical horror settings trying to stop a witch from killing everyone. Much like Bava’s Kill Baby Kill, the story isn’t extremely engaging or anything, but the atmosphere is thick enough to enjoy the proceedings nonetheless. Bava was a master at maximizing the situations and imagery that we take for granted 40 or so years later: the castle basement filled with coffins; the fog-filled forest at night; etc. The black and white cinematography is nice, though given the genre’s usual rich palette, I wouldn’t have minded if it was done in color.

Like many non-zombie Italian films, your level of enjoyment will more than likely depend on whether or not you appreciate slower paces and an emphasis on atmosphere. I usually have to be in the mood for them, and find I enjoy them more on repeat viewings. But after all the fucking garbage I watched this week, this was like watching Halloween or Dawn of the Dead for the first time.

The Bava set is criminally underpriced at many outlets as well, I’ve seen it marked down to 20 bucks. I paid more than that for fucking H20. And while I am bummed it does not include Shock, it’s still highly recommended if you are a fan.

What say you?


  1. Bava is someone I'm just been discovering in the last year as well--of course as a lifelong horror fan I've always heard about his movies, but never sat down to watch them until recently. Mask of Satan certainly deserves its reputation, as does the mesmerizing Barbara Steele.

    If you're a bigger fan of what Bava does with colors (a la Black Sabbath), and if you haven't seen it, I recommend tracking down The Whip and the Body, with a rakishly handsome young Chris Lee as a sadomasochist bastard. (He claims it as one of his favorite roles.) Very atmospheric and beautiful--if only Ms. Steele had played the lead!

    And apropos of nothing, but just because I have to mention it, I would suggest one of your next 50 Chilling Classics viewings should be Messiah of Evil. I don't want to hype it too much, but it's pretty much one of the greatest movies ever. :) (add salt to taste)

  2. I agree with this scott charcater, the next movie you should watch is messiah of evil. it is fantastic.

    in any event, i watched black sunday... hell, i don't remember if it was last october or the october before hand, and i didn't expect much, but i really enjoyed it.


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