Black Sunday (1960)

“Black Sunday” is a delightful horror experience that’s truly unlike anything else I’ve seen. I’ve had the pleasure of watching classy, old-school horror movies like “Psycho” and the Universal Monster movies (among others) before, but I’ve never seen a black-and-white horror movie that’s as elegant as those movies while also being as violent and gory as a modern-day entry. The story itself, involving witches, resurrections and vampires, is truly fascinating in a fireplace-at-night kind of way, managing to establish an ominous, fairly oppressive atmosphere that enraptures the audience from the get go. The sets and costume design are just gorgeous while the cinematography is absolutely pitch-perfect: Every shot is perfectly framed, the black-and-white photography is striking, and the score could easily be used as a Halloween-night soundtrack without any changes. Barbara Steele steals scenes left and right in dual roles, while director Mario Bava’s camera absolutely loves her, and she manages to stand out even among all the movie’s other attributes. Pop this on late on night and you’ll have a blast.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

5 comments

  1. Awesome Bava movie — he is another one of my idols. All his movies are interesting. I do prefer his color movies — he is a master at playing with primary colors! Anyhow, you are right about Barbara Steele — she is hell bent (no pun intended) on stealing the show! 🙂

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      1. Rating Bava (in order of preference):

        GREAT

        Rabid Dogs (1974) — Nasty, Tarantinesque thriller, not for the fainthearted
        Kill, Baby, Kill (1966) — Ultra-creepy ghost story ala The Haunting (1963)
        The Whip and the Body (1963) — Gothic thriller, like a perverted version of Corman’s House of Usher
        Black Sabbath (1963) — Spooky horror anthology
        Black Sunday (1960) — Delicious witch’s brew
        Blood and Black Lace (1964) — Unofficial father of the Italian Gialllo
        The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) — Stylish, Hitchcockian thriller

        GOOD

        Erik the Conqueror (1961) — Action-filled Viking adventure
        A Bay of Blood (1971) — Flawed, but influential slasher thriller
        Lisa and the Devil (1973) — Fun, surreal occult thriller (P.S. Avoid the re-edit U.S. version called House of Exorcism)
        Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970) — Psycho thriller ala Peeping Tom (1960)
        Knives of the Avenger (1966) — Fun Viking remake of Shane (1953)
        Planet of the Vampires (1965) — Fun B-movie in glorious Technicolor

        JUST OKAY

        Schock (1977) — Schlocky ghost story

        DIDN’T LIKE

        Baron Blood (1972)
        Five Dolls for an August Moon (1970)
        Danger: Diabolik (1968)
        Roy Colt & Winchester Jack (1970)

        Liked by 1 person

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