Release Date: 07/16/2013
Studio: Kino Lorber
Collection Number: 1130
Mario Bava is often referred to as the maestro of the macabre, a master of suspense. All it takes is a quick viewing of one of Black Sabbath's three stories to see that's not too far from the truth. Prior to his successful directing career Bava was renowned in Italy as a cinematographer. He dabbled with shorts here and there and during an incident with the 1956 film Lust of the Vampire he would step in and replace director Riccardo Freda to finish the film. In 1960 Mario Bava inked a deal with American International Pictures and would go on to create Black Sunday. The film was met with great success and was reportedly AIP's top grossing film during that period. Years later AIP and Bava would find success again with Black Sabbath, a film that many fans consider one of the director's best.
Black Sabbath is an anthology made up of three short stories. It begins with an introduction by the late Boris Karloff warning the audience of the macabre nature of the show. This Italian cut is superior in many ways though it does lack Karloff's voice.
Up next is The Wurdalak, my favorite of the three chapters! A young man (Vladimir; Mark Damon) is making his way through the Russian Countryside when he stumbles upon a headless corpse with a dagger plunged into it's chest. He removes the weapon and eventually finds a small cottage belonging to the owner of the knife. The family inside welcome Vladimir to spend the night but with a warning, tonight their father is to return home. He's been gone for quite a while and there's a strong possibility he could have become a wurdalak. This story is essentially Bava's take on the vampire mythos. I feel it's the strongest of the three stories with it's great direction and unforgettable atmosphere (all of those colors, man.)
A Drop of Water is the last tale and it's a pretty ghastly one. Jacqueline Pierreux takes on the role of a nurse who is called upon late one night to prepare the corpse of a recently deceased medium for an upcoming funeral. When she makes it to the old mansion she discoverers that the corpse is not only terrifying looking but adorned with an expensive jeweled ring. Unable to contain her fascination with the item she pockets it as she's dressing the dead body. There's a small issue though, as the ring is spiritually attached to the medium, who eventually comes a'callin'. The corpse-prop is probably one of the more startling images contained in the film...Stealing that ring was such a ballsy move for that young nurse!
Roberto Nicolosi handled the score on the Italian cut (whom AIP would replace with Lex Baxter.) The brass dominated music adds a lot to the film. The audio sadly isn't exactly up to par with the film's transfer. Some age elements are present though it's not enough to warrant any real negativity. The uncompressed 2.0 track gets the job done, though there is some room for improvement.