SoH Reviews: Black Sabbath (1963)

We’re continuing the Bava train with another review!

Prior to watching 1960’s Black Sunday (or The Mask of Satan), I was super excited to see Bava’s collection on Shudder and I was a little overwhelmed about what to watch. So, we have talked about Shock, Blood and Black Lace, Black Sunday and now we are going to review Black Sabbath which ironically comes a year before Blood and Black Lace (as in releases) and there’s some interesting things in this movie.

Let’s get started.

blacksabbath4

blacksabbath3Black Sabbath stars Boris Karloff who around this time period was still actively working. He did Aresonic & Old Lace (1962), The Terror (which I’ve also reviewed and co-stars Jack Nicholson in 1963), would later on voice and narrate How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) and his eventual passing would be in 1969. If you look at his filmography, it’s very impressive and extensive and it seems like the 50s and 60s were just as big as his earlier beginnings with Universal. Karloff plays two major roles in the film as a narrator of sorts, he introduces and then closes the film but he plays a significant part in the second story of this anthology.

Yes, Black Sabbath is an anthology film. Three different stories to be exact and I have my favorites in order.

blacksabbath2My top favorite that I enjoyed was the last segment called The Drop of Water. I liked the concept of this, quite unique and has this mysticism/fantastical element in the story. The colors and special effects are really cool, especially when things are going in a direction of just “what”-ness. The plot is a nurse steals a ring from a soon to be buried body and by stealing the ring, weird things begin happening to the nurse. The overall atmosphere is very cool, tense, and I really enjoyed this segment overall. 

blacksabbath5Second favorite is the first story called The Telephone. My initial reaction was “wow, I see Blood and Black Lace into this” aka similarities in color choice, cinematography, lighting, the apartment/bedroom really looked like it belong in that other film and I wonder if Bava was inspired to kind of continue that opulence/Baroque vibes into Blood and Black Lace. The story is pretty simple, a woman is tortured by someone through the telephone who seems to be stalking her and is quite vulgar.

And to round out the film is The Wurdulak. This one is the longest of the three and the one that took me a GOOD minute to understand what was happening. I thought it was a ghost story/sinister ghost or werewolf thing but no, once I saw the biting on the neck, I was like “oh”. Karloff is in this segment, does a great job carrying it and even though it is third, it’s still enjoyable. Lots of themes of family, grief, some guilt, this one is more emotionally driven.

blacksabbath6Unlike Black Sunday, I wasn’t fully distracted by the dubbing. It’s still kind of obvious in this film too but not too bad. The downside is not really hearing Karloff’s voice, which is memorable on its own and we don’t get to experience that like we should.

Black Sabbath stars Boris Karloff, Mark Damon, Michèle Mercier, Susy Andersen, Lydia Alfonsi
Glauco Onorato and Jacqueline Pierreu, directed by Mario Bava and will also receive a 4 out of 5.

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