Classic Movie 2019

Classic Movie Of The Week: Black Sunday (1960)

Starring: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi

Director: Mario Bava

The film opens on a witch being killed by a mob of villagers with a truly gruesome mask. The witch declares that she will return and curses the descendants of those who are killing her… years later, one of her descendants who looks just like her is menaced by the witch who has returned to take possession of her body. Only her brother and a doctor can help her…

The poster for this film is amazing, with it’s staring eyes and it’s warning that it’s not for the under 12s… and the opening sequence where the awful mask with it’s studs of nails on the inside is truly chilling. It was actually banned in the UK for a while, but has since found wide release.

His first credited foray into directing, Mario Bava excels in creating a scary mood and Gothic romance. His background in cinematography serves him well, as he captures beautiful women and creepy castles, and terrorising imagery of death and the undead.

Shot in Italy, the film has that slight clunky-ness that comes from characters being re-dubbed, but the star, Barbara Steele, is actually a British actress whose unusual beauty and huge eyes make her perfectly suited to play both the witch who curses and the woman who is cursed. I really like her in this film. She looks so very 60’s to me, and I love how there’s something a bit different about her.

Italy has a wonderful history of horror films, and this one is one of the best. Shot in black and white, it sometimes feels quaint for it’s translated feel and at other times feels gorily ahead of it’s time. Not for the faint of heart perhaps…

See It If: you love Italian Giallo cinema, this one should please you. Also for lover’s of Gothic romance and horror. The meek need not apply…


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