Black Sabbath (1963)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - France , United Kingdom , Italy   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Patrick Legare

This trilogy of horror stories from Mario Bava serves as an interesting look at a trio of varying filmmaking styles that later became signatures of the director's work. The first tale, "The Telephone," was one of Bava's first attempts at a giallo film, which he made famous a year later with his masterwork Blood and Black Lace. The red telephones that always seem to play supporting props in Bava's other gialli are here given top billing as star Michele Mercier is threatened by a caller who claims to be her psycho ex-lover. A lesbian subtext provides some interesting moments and Bava builds the tension up well, but "Telephone" is only an average tale that follows through to a predictable twist. "I Wurdulak" is by far the best of the three and features one of the last great performances by Boris Karloff. This story takes the vampire legend to another level -- in which those afflicted by the creature's bite return to attack the ones they love. Karloff, who also appears in an introduction segment at the opening of the film, is wonderfully evil as the family head whose ghostly visage provides several unforgettable scares. Bava's wonderful camera work recalls his 1961 hit Black Sunday, and capitalizes on beautifully designed sets that lend a lot to the atmosphere. "The Drop of Water" is another good shocker about a nurse who steals the ring off an old occultist woman's hand only to have her grinning corpse torment her from beyond the grave. The initial shock of seeing the old witch is truly bone-chilling and though the tale is a short one, it remains scary and suspenseful throughout. Jacqueline Pierreux turns in a great performance as the salty nurse. The U.S. version of Black Sabbath depicted the segments in a different order.