Euro-Horror Binge: Black Sunday (La maschera del demonio, 1960, Italy)

I'm not proud of the lack of Mario Bava films in my life, and this is something I aim to correct in my Euro-horror binge - as well as dealing with these pesky Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento gaps in my viewing. I had high expectations for my first viewing from the master of Italian horror films, yet Black Sunday (or The Mask of Satan) left me a little cold. 

Bava's tale of a vengeful witch (Barbara Steele) returning from the grave to possess the body of her descendant, had all the elements of a film I should love - but I just could not immerse myself on this first-viewing. As someone who grew up on the gorgeous and lurid technicolor appeal of the Hammer films, Black Sunday felt a little stilted for my tastes - even for a film from 1960, to me felt somewhat dated in its context.

However, Steele is a magnetic screen presence and the wide-eyed beauty and slightly unhinged demeanour that she provides as both Katia Vajda and ancestor Princess Asa Vajda provides the film with a kinetic energy that it so desperately needs. Similarly Bava's cinematography delivers some striking and memorable Gothic imagery - primarily the opening's burning at the stake - a somewhat progressive level of horror for its time. It's this cinematography and imagery, that allowed me to understand quite why Black Sunday is deemed a classic by many of my peers - however, the stilted nature of this Gothic story that holds it together jeopardised if for me.

Bava's later works like Lisa and the Devil, A Bay of Blood and Rabid Dogs sound narratively more to my tastes, so hopefully my next encounter with the highly-praised Bava will be a more positive one. 

new 2870103519234084339
Home item


Culture Fix Content


Follow Us

Like Us

Track of the Week

Album of the Week

Album of the Week

Blog Archive

Connect on Google+