a.k.a. Three Faces of Fear
Black Sabbath is an anthology movie starring horror legend, Boris Karloff, and was Bava’s personal favourite among his horror films. If you are a fan of unsettling tales and the stylized primary colour look of Blood and Black Lace and Argento’s Susperia, then you’re in for a real treat.
The film opens with an introduction by Karloff, but doesn’t hang around too long before jumping into “The Telephone”, a tale of an outrageously beautiful woman being terrorized by a mystery caller. In terms of plot, this is the weakest of the three stories and it is not as gorgeously stylised as the later sections. However, Michèle Mercier who plays Rosey, the intended victim of the unknown caller, is so delightful to look at that everything else becomes superfluous.
“The Wurdalak” is up next in this cut of the film (it was moved to become the final story in the American version). This is a very creepy story about a vampiric creature that preys on its own most dearly loved. The plot is quite simple and predictable, but the unreal sets and primary colours create a nightmarish, yet beautiful world that is a real delight. There are some genuinely frightening moments created by very simple means, such as a child whining for his mother in the courtyard or faces appearing a window. However, these techniques seem to rise to the forefront in the final section.
In terms of plot, “The Drop of Water” relies on nothing more complicated than a typical campfire yarn. Woman steals dead lady’s ring, dead lady’s ghost haunts woman, woman dies. However, in this final part of Black Sabbath, Bava goes all out in terms of atmosphere and creates a chilling finale that will come back to you when you have to walk across the landing to go pee in the middle of the night! This is that fabulous stuff that only Bava can really pull off convincingly.
This is one of my favourite Bava films and I would recommend it to fans of Blood and Black Lace, Kill, Baby…Kill, as well as Argento’s Susperia and Inferno. The print looks great and it’s in its original cut in Italian language with English subtitles. As with The Mask of Satan there is an interesting little introduction by Alan Jones. A Must see!
Next I hope to get around to reviewing Bava’s genre defining The Girl Who Knew Too Much a.k.a. The Evil Eye.