Mario Bava

Black Sabbath (1963) - Mario Bava

Black Sabbath from 1963 is an Anthology Horror film that is both corny and frightening in parts. The movie is dated and some of the material doesn't really hold over well, however the movie has become an inspiration for film-makers like Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery. The movie features three parts that are introduced humorously, albeit a bit morbidly, by Boris Karloff; the movie was made in the early sixties and it has a sort of psychedelic aesthetic and art to it. 

The three stories: "The Drop of Water" is a tale of terror about a woman who steals a ring from a dead woman only to be haunted by the deceased woman. "The Telephone" is a creepy tale about a woman being watched by a crazed ex-pimp who was thought to be dead. The last is "The Wurdulak" about a man who becomes a vampire and turns his family and the people close to him; this tale is the weakest in the line up. 

The movie's art direction is very 60's acid-trip inspired, with the introductory sequence featuring the disembodied head of Boris Karloff floating and changing colors. The other introductions that come before and after each story are also very strange, and feature bizarre camera angles and crazy shots. 

The scariest story would have to be "The Drop of Water" the effects are nothing to write home about, but the tone and delivery are what really set this apart. "The Telephone" is actually pretty nuts and could have been done with a bit more terror. "The Wurdulak" is the weakest, it does incorporate some really cool shots and the story-line is decent but it doesn't carry over well by today's standards. It is also the longest of the three stories. 

The movie is an Italian horror film, so it features some really bad dubbing, but I for one, think that the dubbing is all part of the charm of these older films. The effects are nothing more than just elementary props, and I believe in one scene the "Specter" is nothing more than a mannequin on a moving platform. Its pretty laughable but they deliver it well by using a decent story and building it up with the music. 

It is one of the better horror movies from the 60's I have seen so far. The movie would be paired well with something like Creepshow or Tales of Terror backing it up. If you enjoy the whole ghost story movie experience this movie does it well. 
I Tre volti della paura

  • This film served as the inspiration for the band Black Sabbath.
  • There are numerous trimmed sequences between the Italian version and English version.
  • Filmed in Italy