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Black Sabbath (1963)
"I tre volti della paura" (original title)

 -  Horror  -  6 May 1964 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 5,306 users  
Reviews: 71 user | 117 critic

A trio of atmospheric horror tales about: A woman terrorized in her apartment by phone calls from an escaped prisoner from her past; a Russian count in the early 1800s who stumbles upon a ... See full summary »


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Cast overview:
Michèle Mercier ...
Rosy (segment "The Telephone")
Lidia Alfonsi ...
Mary (segment "The Telephone") (as Lydia Alfonsi)
Gorca (segment "The Wurdalak")
Mark Damon ...
Vladimire d'Urfe (segment "The Wurdalak")
Susy Andersen ...
Sdenka (segment "The Wurdalak")
Massimo Righi ...
Pietro (segment "The Wurdalak")
Rika Dialyna ...
Maria (segment "The Wurdalak") (as Rica Dialina)
Glauco Onorato ...
Giorgio (segment "The Wurdalak")
Jacqueline Pierreux ...
Helen Chester (segment "The Drop of Water")
Milly ...
The Maid (segment "The Drop of Water") (as Milly Monti)
Harriet Medin ...
Neighbor (segment "The Drop of Water")
Gustavo De Nardo ...
Police Inspector (segment "The Drop of Water")


A trio of atmospheric horror tales about: A woman terrorized in her apartment by phone calls from an escaped prisoner from her past; a Russian count in the early 1800s who stumbles upon a family in the countryside trying to destroy a particularly vicious line of vampires; and a 1900-era nurse who makes a fateful decision while preparing the corpse of one of her patients - an elderly medium who died during a seance. Written by scgary66

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

vampire | ring | corpse | nurse | dagger | See more »


The most gruesome day in the calendar! See more »




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

6 May 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Sabbath  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film served as inspiration for the naming of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. In 1968, the band (then called Earth) was playing a small club in Birmingham, England. Across the street was a movie theater showing the film Black Sabbath. The band noticed that more people were in line to see the movie than were to see the band. Realizing that "horror sells tickets" they decided to change the band's name to Black Sabbath. See more »


In "The Wurdulak", Gorca shouldn't have been able to turn Giorgio into a vampire, because Giorgio had already been stabbed to death by Maria. See more »


Mary: [to Rosy] You have no reason to be afraid.
See more »


Referenced in Witchfinder (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

3 Tales of Fear
27 March 2001 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

I Tre Volti Della Paura/Black Sabbath(1963) starts out with a colorful introduction by Boris Karloff that gives homage to Sydney Greenstreet's introduction for the trailers of The Maltese Falcon(1941), and Across the Pacific(1942). One of the best horror film anthologies of the 20th Century. An example of Mario Bava's love for the art of painting and the realm of fantasy. Quentin Tarantino was influenced by Black Sabbath(1963) for his structure of Pulp Fiction(1994). Black Sabbath(1963) is at its most artful and scary in its original Italian edition.

THE TELEPHONE is the third best tale but the most historical in the evoluation of the Italian thriller. Although not the first Giallo to be made in Italy, its certainly the first Giallo to be done in color. Also, the first Giallo to have the eroticism and violent outbursts of the Italian novel known as the gialli. Takes place in one area with the exception of a couple of scenes. This gives the story a touch of the theatre.

Michele Mercier as Rosy is absolutely stunning. The lesbian subtext of THE TELEPHONE was a darling concept that was too erotic for American audiences to watch as thought out by AIP before the film's USA release. This taboo subtext was cut and the story was turned into a ghost yarn in the American version. Gives hints of why Rosy and her friend Mary stopped seeing each other. THE TELEPHONE uses the colors of blue and red to express the sexual and violent tension of the story.

The final shot of the telephone with the receiver out and a body on the floor below would be used again in the final shot of Blood & Black Lace(1965). THE TELEPHONE contains features that would appear at the beginning of Scream(1996). In fact, the opening scene of Scream(1996) is almost a shot by shot remake of THE TELEPHONE. Influenced Mario Bava's Blood & Black Lace(1965) and the gory body countish Bay of Blood(1971). A murder by strangulation with telephone cord would appear later in A Bay of Blood with the murder of the entomologist.

THE WURDALAK is a tragic tale of family decline. Its also the most romantic of the three tales. The romantic subplot involving Count D'Uree and Sdenka is reminiscent of The Mask of Satan(1960). About a Russian version of the vampire known as the Wurdalak who drains the blood of loved ones so they too can be Wurdalak. The most personal story of Mario Bava in this anthology.

Boris Kalfoff gives his best performance in a horror film since playing the creature in Frankenstein(1931) and Bride of Frankenstein(1933). THE WURDALAK is very similar to Edgar Allen Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. Based on a novel that was later filmed as a full length movie. The scene of the ghost child turning into Gorca to hunt Gregor's wife would influence Kill Baby Kill(1967) and Shock(1977). Mario Bava directs THE WURDALAK with an atmospheric touch.

Despite the film's low budget, THE WURDALAK has excellent costume and set designs. Mark Damon and Susy Andersen are good in their roles as doomed lovers. This segment of Black Sabbath(1963) would be of significance to later Bava films I.E, The Whip & the Body(1964), Kill Baby Kill(1967), Lisa & the Devil(1974), and Shock(1977). The line "My Destiny is here" personifies Bava's life as a homebody and is similar to a couple of lines from The Mask of Satan(1960) and Lisa & the Devil(1974). A good short story that is not boring.

A DROP OF WATER is the most frightening and scary story of Black Sabbath(1963). Its one of the best and perhaps the greatest horror story Mario Bava has ever filmed. In this story, Bava was interested in the idea of a person alone in a dark room. The story is about a nurse who thinks a dead medium patient is after her for stealing a ring. A DROP OF WATER is brilliant in exploring the theme of fear.

A DROP OF WATER contains spine tingling sequences of horror and atmospheric lighting. Jacqueline Pierreux is fabulous as the fearful and guilt conscious nurse, Helen Corey. She plays Helen Corey with believability. The story is ambiguous on whether the ghost is real or is just in Helen Corey's mind. A DROP OF WATER is a true horror tale that plays on the imagination of the audience brilliantly unlike the overrated, Blair Witch Project(1999).

The end suggests that the same events will occur all over again. Filmed by Mario Bava with an expertise in horror and terror. A DROP OF WATER was influenced by Bava's love of Russian literature especially the works of Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoevsky and also the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe. In the same manner and vein as The Tell Tale Heart. The theme of guilt in A DROP OF WATER shows up in The Whip & the Body(1964) plus Shock(1977).

27 of 37 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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