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Black Sunday (1960)

La maschera del demonio (original title)
Unrated | | Horror | 15 February 1961 (USA)
A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant. Only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor stand in her way.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Katia Vajda / Princess Asa Vajda (as Barbara Steel)
...
Andrea Checchi ...
Ivo Garrani ...
...
Igor Javutich / Javuto
Enrico Olivieri ...
Prince Constantine Vajda
Antonio Pierfederici ...
Priest
Tino Bianchi ...
Ivan
Clara Bindi ...
Inn Keeper
...
Nikita, the Coachman
Renato Terra ...
Boris
Germana Dominici ...
Sonya, the Innkeeper's Daughter
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Storyline

In the Seventeenth Century, in Maldavia, Princess Asa Vajda and her lover Javutich (Arturo Dominici) are killed by the local population, accused of witchcraft. A mask of Satan is attached to their faces. Princess Asa curses her brother, promising revenge to his descents. The body of Javutich is buried outside the cemetery, and the coffin of Princess Asa is placed in the family's tomb with a cross over it for protection. Two hundred years later, Professor Thomas Kruvajan and his assistant, Dr. Andre Gorobec, are going to a congress in Russia and they accidentally find the tomb. Dr. Thomas breaks the cross, releasing the evil witch. When they are leaving the place, Dr. Andre meets Princess Katia Vajda, descendant of Princess Asa, and falls in love with her. Meanwhile, Katia is threatened by the witch, who wants to use her body to live again. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

STARE INTO THESE EYES... discover deep within them the unspeakable terrifying secret of BLACK SUNDAY... it will paralyze you with fright! See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Language:

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Release Date:

15 February 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Sunday  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bava and Steel had a difficult working relationship. Steele sometimes refused to come to set because she did not like her wig or the fact that her cleavage would be shown. One time she refused to come to the set because she believed that Bava wold force her to appear nude. Steele admits that she was difficult due to her inexperience and her inability to understand Italian. See more »

Goofs

When Katya runs down the passage after finding Ivan's body she knocks over a suit of armor. When Alex runs down the same hall a little later, the armor is back on its stand. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Thomas Kruvajan: You have no reason to fear the dead. They sleep very soundly.
See more »

Crazy Credits

For "The Mask of Satan," the English language version prepared in Italy, Barbara Steele's name is listed as "Barbara Steel" on the trailer and on the credits of the film itself. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Bloodiest Show on Earth: Making Vampire Circus (2010) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Full of Atmosphere
3 November 2000 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

La Maschera Del Demonio/The Mask of Satan(1960) is the film that introduced audiences around the world to the cinema of Mario Bava. After years as Assistent Director and Director of Photography, Bava was rewarded with his first full directorial assignment and the results are impressive. He didn't direct full time until he was in his late 40's. Its interesting to note that two other directors named Lucio Fulci and Terence Fisher didn't get international recognization until their big breaks(Zombie[1979] + Curse of Frankenstein[1957]) when they were in their early to mid 50's. Its about a dead witch who returns from the dead with her lover to terrorize the descendents of their executioners. It was done due to the success of Horror of Dracula(1958).

The opening scene of the execution of Asa is a stunning combination of atmosphere and violent imagery. The Mask of Satan(1960) is based on a short story by Nikolai Gogol. Gogol is a writer that would play together with Edgar Allen Poe as a major influence in Bava's Supernatural tales. Its one of the best horror films of the last fifty years. Asa is resurrected when the blood of a doctor is accidently dropped on her corpse(this is played homage to in Lamberto Bava's Demons 2{1986}). Tim Burton has cited this movie as one of his favorites.

The film was pratically butchered in the states when first released, but has since been released on Home Video in uncut form(longest print in existence). This is an item that many aspiring Horror Filmmakers should watch in order to see how a great horror film should be done. The Mask of Satan(1960) isn't interested in plot and story as much as atmosphere and painting style visuals. Barbara Steele emerges as the first horror queen of the modern era. Barbara Steele has a macabre beauty that bewitches the viewer and gives her presence. Barbara Steele along with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Vincent Price were some of the greatest icons in 1960's-1970's horror films.

Barbara Steele does outstanding work as the witch Asa and her descendent Katia. Mario Bava's direction has the look of a great artist. Bava also contributes to the great cinematography. La Maschera Del Demonio is a well made mixture of the Universal Horror features of the 30's-40's and the violence of Hammer Horror of the 50's-60's. The fact that Mario Bava did this based on the success of Horror of Dracula(1958) must have influenced Terence Fisher to respond by directing Dracula:Prince of Darkness(1965). One theme that is present in The Mask of Satan(1960) is the decay and decline of a once happy and powerful family(more fully explored in Bava's later films of Black Sabbath{1963}, The Whip & the Body{1964}, Lisa and the Devil{1974}, and Shock{1977}).


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