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I tre volti della paura
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Reviews & Ratings for
Black Sabbath More at IMDbPro »I tre volti della paura (original title)

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35 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

3 Tales of Fear

Author: marquis de cinema from Boston, MA
27 March 2001

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).

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28 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Great, atmospheric horror anthology. A must for Italian horror buffs.

Author: capkronos ( from Ohio, USA
18 February 2005

Originally titled I TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA (THREE FACES OF FEAR), this horror anthology made it to the U.S. with a new title to remind viewers of how good Bava's BLACK Sunday (1960) was. It also gained an excellent Les Baxter soundtrack and Boris Karloff as a host, though the tales were reversed in order and the strong lesbian subtext of one segment and some violence were omitted, but that's good ole' American censorship for you (both have since been restored, anyway). In any case, this anthology is a classic of its kind.

"Drop of Water" (based on a story by Checkov) is a chilling tale of a nurse (Jacqueline Pierreux) who gets her just desserts after stealing a diamond ring from the hideous-looking corpse of a psychic. "The Telephone" (based on a story by F.G.Snyder) was the least satisfying of the bunch for me personally, yet is still above average. In it, a lascivious, unstable and bisexual young beauty (Michele Mercier) receives threatening phone calls that seem to be coming from a man who has a personal vendetta against her. Final tale is "The Wurdalak," which was based on a Tolstoy. Boris Karloff stars as Gorca, a man turned into a vampire by the curse of Wurdalak, which makes him attack and kill only those he loves (namely his extended family, including child). It's astonishing to look at and very suspenseful. All three are colorfully, creatively done, drenched in Bava's trademark rich atmosphere and bring something a little different to the table. "Drop" (last in the Italian version) has the most chilling central image, "Wurdulak" (middle in the Italian version) has the boldest color palette and most vivid art direction and "Telephone" (first in the Italian version) is a very early giallo. Horror regulars Mark Damon (from Corman's HOUSE OF USHER), Massimo Righi and Harriet White Medin (usually typecast as a stern housekeeper in Italian horror films) co-star in this one.

Score: 8 out of 10 (only because I'm reserving a point until I get to watch the original Italian version).

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Karloff is Wonderful!

Author: BaronBl00d ( from NC
20 August 2000

This is an anthology film with three stories, totally unrelated introduced by a rather aged, dignified Boris Karloff. Karloff introduces each with great savvy and a generous dose of wit and humour. All three stories were directed by Italian horror specialist Mario Bava, whose use of the camera was legendary and unique. The first story was based on a story by Chekov called "The Drop of Water" and it is the best of the three. This little story about a nurse that steals a ring off the body of a witch, having been warned not to, is one of the scariest scenes ever to be filmed. The second story about a killer and a phone is adequate. The third story, starring Karloff as a Wurdelak...or very good. It has plenty of atmosphere, and is the only film in which Boris ever played a vampire. All in all, Black Sabbath is a good film. It shows the talent that Bava had for taking fairly ordinary situations in life into horriffic ones.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Welcome to Mario Bava...

Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
5 October 2005

1945's Dead of Night introduced horror cinema to omnibus films, and Mario Bava's Black Sabbath brought it back! Italian produced films were making a lot of money in the early sixties, and hot on the heels of his success with Black Sunday, former cinematographer and horror genius Mario Bava was brought in to direct this compendium of horror tales. The great Boris Karloff adds a further lure to the proceedings, and these two giants were on to a winner before they started filming. This film is like an overview of what Mario Bava is all about. The first tale, a Giallo-like thriller, echoes films such as The Girl Who Knew Too Much and Blood and Black Lace, while tale number two; The Wardulak, is pure Gothic horror, a la Black Sunday. The climax story, The Drop of Water, is the most horror orientated of the trio and gives a good early showing of the adrenaline that would go on to make the likes of Baron Blood and Bay of Blood the great films that they are. Mario Bava has a lot of fans and many of his films could easily be considered his best, but there is no doubt for me. The best film Bava ever made is Black Sabbath.

After a colourful and campy introduction by the great Boris Karloff, we move straight into The Telephone. This tale is simple, yet effective and instantly grabs you – not letting go until the end. The lesbian undertones give it an extra bit of verve (especially with the actresses being as tasty as they are!), and the way that Bava claustrophobically shoots almost the entire story in one apartment means that the tale is always easy to get to grips with. Bava's music is the main event style-wise. Music is a big part of Giallo, and this entry in Black Sabbath, along with The Girl Who Knew Too Much, ensures that we all know it was Bava who created the Giallo. The ironic ending seals the story and makes sure that you'll be in high spirits going into tale number two.

The Wardulak is the longest, most ambitious and also the weakest part of the trilogy. That's not to say that it's anything less than brilliant; the other two are just stronger. The Gothic sets and atmosphere are definitely the main draw here, and the way that Bava lights up every scene with his trademark use of lighting and colours is absolutely stunning. Being the most expansive, this is the story that best allows Bava full use of his directing ability and many of the shots could be easily be framed and hung on your wall. The tale is very reminiscent of the masterpiece Black Sunday, and gives a good impression of what the film might have looked like had it have been in colour. Boris Karloff takes the lead role here as a man trying to destroy a line of vampires like creatures known as Wardulak's. Karloff obviously enjoyed making this film, and his assured and camp performance in this part of the film, along with his intro and outro, really shows that. The conclusion to this story is really well done, and makes sure that this part of the film ends on a high.

My favourite tale is the first one, but The Drop of Water definitely isn't far behind! This tale is pure evil, and allows Bava to show his mastery of the horror genre the best. We follow a young female nurse who steals a ring from one of her patients...a medium...who died during a séance. Like the first tale, this one's effectiveness stems from it's simplicity and this allows Bava to implement his excellent use of lighting and colours. The sets are brilliantly lit, and the director manages to create a foreboding feel that runs throughout the film. The design of the elderly medium's face is really haunting, and seeing the corpse get it's revenge gives Black Sabbath it's main scare. Watching this tale, it's obvious why Bava is so well respected by cult and genre fans. There aren't many directors that can generate this kind of scare from such a simple plot - and all of The Drop of Water's frights are owed entirely to the director. On the whole, this is a superior omnibus horror film. All the elements are in place and if you want a great overview of Mario Bava's talents - this is the place to look!

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

And you will live in terror...

Author: chaos-rampant from Greece
30 March 2008

I don't know if Sam Arkoff knows it, but the moment AIP renamed "I Tre Volti Della Paura" into "Black Sabbath" for the American release they were writing 20th century history. A couple of years later a relatively unknown band from Birmingham, inspired by Mario Bava's Gothic horror anthology, would name their band Black Sabbath and proceed to become one of the most well known and influential bands of the last 30 years.

Black Sabbath starts off wisely with the weakest story in the movie, "The Telephone". There's nothing incredibly exciting going on, and the interior setting doesn't allow Bava to fully exercise his usual flair in visuals and atmosphere, rendering this segment a rather routine affair. Any historical significance the segment might have in the shaping of the giallo is made redundant by the fact that Bava himself would go on to define the genre a few years later with Blood and Black Lace.

The patient viewer will be amply rewarded by the following two segments though. The Wurdulak, featuring a ghastly Boris Karloff in one of his best roles, and A Drop of Water, with Jacqueline Pierreux in the role of a greedy nurse, are both the epitome of Mario Bava's Gothic style in colour.

What makes Black Sabbath so vibrant and captivating is the use of colour in lighting. Going against every rule and defying every sense of historic realism, Bava employs colours from every end of the palette (from magenta to cyan) and lights his sets in the most imaginative ways. It may seem arbitrary, and it may very well be, but the effect cannot be dismissed. It works. Imagine Seijun Suzuki circa Tokyo Drifter doing Black Sunday in colour and you get pretty close to what Bava strives for lighting-wise. There's a pop art sensibility that contrasts beautifully with the stern tone of the movie. Combined with misty exteriors, long shadows and a baroque opulence, Bava mutates Gothic horror into a unique beast that is simultaneously very familiar and extravagantly exotic.

What's even more admirable is that Black Sabbath is actually scary. Well not in the traditional sense anymore, no. But there are genuinely chilling moments. I can't even begin to imagine how horrifying the ending of A Drop of Water or Boris Karloff's face seen through a smudged glass in The Wurdulak would have been to unsuspecting audiences back in 1963.

In conclusion; seek this movie out, but know what you're getting into. This is old school Gothic horror with a unique visual flair, a penchant for atmosphere and a great Boris Karloff. In the Gothic horror Bava scale, I would rank it somewhere between Kill! Baby! Kill... (Bava's other masterpiece) and Lisa and the Devil, if that means anything.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

The work of a genius

Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
2 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Welcome to yet another pure vintage Bava classic. I went straight for the undubbed version in which the tales are presented in their original order, and I strongly recommend for you to do the same as it is a pure horror masterpiece! The ultimate horror icon Boris Karloff hosts three various and delightful tales of the supernatural. The first story (The Telephone) is rather simplistic but it sets a promising tone for the rest of the movie. In this, the stunningly beautiful Rosy (Michele Mercier who reminds you of Barbara Steele) receives threatening phone calls, seemly from her ex-lover who recently escaped prison. The tale features a sublime lesbian undertone and quite a few shocking moments. The second tale is somewhat the main event of the film and also stars Karloff in a terrifically diabolical role. We're introduced to "Wurdulaks", which are vampire-variants that are exclusively after the blood of their beloved. Karloff shines as the elderly ghoul who returned from a mountain expedition to kill a Turkish psycho, but behaves strangely ever since. This tale has a remarkably high tension level and fully depends on its marvelous set pieces and eerie locations. A must see tale for admirers of Gothic horror and the chapter that comes the closest in style to Mario Bava's ultimate achievement "Black Sunday". The final tale may even be the best as it is one of the most frightening things I ever beheld. "The Drop of Water" has Jacqueline Pierreux haunted by the corpse of an old lady who died during a séance. The image of this dead lady is creepy beyond comparison and the climax is sublime. All three tales are amazingly pictured and terrifically scripted. Mario Bava once again states he's the most talented horror director ever. This versatile production probably also is the ideal film to begin checking out his work. Black Sabbath is the perfect example of how omnibuses should be done. This format got immensely popular in the 70's and especially the British Amicus company cornered the market. Some of their films were very good (Tales from the Crypt, Asylum) but yet they should have paid more heed to milestone movies like "Black Sabbath".

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Horror classic full of thrills, chills, and suspenseful by the master Mario Bava

Author: ma-cortes
12 December 2008

This terrifying film plenty of vampires,weird deeds and murders is formed by three stories proceeded in some memorably horrific set-pieces: 1) The telephone by author Snyder : A prostitute(Michele Mercier) terrorized in her flat by phone calls from a broken-out inmate(Milo Quesada) receives visit her lover(Lidia Alfonsi). 2)The Wurdalak by Aleksey Tolstoi: In a night of nightmare during the early 1800s, a Russian noble(Mark Damon, usual in Spaghetti Western)and a family(exceptional Boris Karloff, a gorgeous Susy Andersen, and Massimo Roghi) stumble a vampires who must kill those love and go after their descendants; the undead vampires of hell terrorize the house in a orgy of stark horror. 3)The drop of water by Chekhov: In the early 1900s, a nurse(Jacqueline Pierreux, mother of actor Jean Pierre Leaud, 400 blows) steals a ring from a medium dead and she seeks avenge, then a ghastly specter arises, exacting cruel revenge for past robbery.

Bava's second great hit(the first was Black Sunday or Mask of the demon) surprisingly realized with startling visual content and well scripted by Marcello Fondato and Albert Bevilacqua. This omnibus terror is plenty of thrills and chills in glimmer color in lurid paste with sensational results. This genuinely creepy tale is photographed by Ubaldo Terzano and Bava with magentas , shades of ochre,translucently pale turquoises and deep orange-red reflecting paleness the victims. Eerie and suspenseful musical score by Roberto Nicolisi, though in American version is composed by Lex Baxter, Corman's usual.The motion picture is stylishly and strikingly shot by Bava, filmed in parallel orbit to those Roger Corman( Edgar Allan Poe cycle) and produced by American International(James H. Nicholson, Samuel Z. Arkoff). He along with Riccardo Freda are fundamental masters of Italian horror, in fact collaborated deeply among them, as Bava terminated two films of Freda, ¨Il Vampiri and Caltiki¨and they created the Giallo sub-genre. Rating: Good, acceptable atmospheric direction from genre master Bava, this is one more compelling horror ventures in which his camera stalks in sinister style throughout a tale with extraordinaries visual skills.A must see for terror buffs.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Ultra stylish affair from one of Italy's finest

Author: Bjorn (ODDBear) from Iceland
30 November 2005

Black Sabbath is one visually stylish flick, courtesy of one of Italy's finest; Mario Bava.

The first story, The Telephone, is light on suspense but heavy on looks. The first Giallo in color, I believe, to some extent, with sexual overtones featured very prominently. Although it only takes place in one apartment Bava's crazy color schemes work beautifully and thanks to the two stunning ladies this episode goes down very well.

The Wurdulak scores heavy because of it's visuals and it's magnificent Gothic atmosphere. This should give a good example of how Black Sunday might have looked in color. However, this episode feels stretched quite a bit, it's relatively short running time seems longer than it is and therefore, in my opinion, is the weakest of the bunch.

The Drop of Water is the final, and best, episode. Bava was fond of the kind of horror that deals with a person who's totally alone in his/her surroundings. He goes into supernatural territory and creates a highly stylish (again) and quite the scary episode.

Black Sabbath is not the best Mario Bava has to offer, it could have been more scary but thanks to studio involvement he had to keep things light and not too scary. Under such restrictions I think Bava did extremely well and Black Sabbath is most definitely a must for Bava fans.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Mario Bava should not be forgotten.

Author: dbdumonteil
18 July 2004

"Tre volti della paura " is a movie made up of three sketches,linked by Boris Karloff's comments -he plays the lead in the second segment - and all dealing with death following a logical progression:fear of death in the first sketch,some kind of "night of the living dead"cum vampires in the second one and terror around a dead woman in the third.Mario Bava did not need any special effects that mar so many horror films today:his baroque settings (Michele Mercier's flat in the first sketch,the countess's Gothic mansion in the third,and the lunar landscapes in the middle one),his knowing lighting effects,his color research,his incredibly effective use of the depth of field (visually stunning in the final segment)are as impressive today as they were forty years ago and were a strong influence on other Italian directors such as Dario Argento.Worth the price of admission.

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Another wonderful Bava film

Author: bensonmum2 from Tennessee
5 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Black Sabbath is an anthology from the Italian horror master, Mario Bava. Throughout the film, his trademark use of lighting and unique camera work are evident. Truly impressive.

The first story, "The Telephone", is a basic thriller and, IMO, the weakest of the three stories. Most everything that happens is fairly predictable. But, Bava's direction makes an ordinary story very entertaining. Also, Michèle Mercier is a knockout and makes this segment worth watching. I'll give the first segment an 8/10.

Most people seem to think that the second story, "The Wurdalak", is the best. I'm in agreement. This segment could have easily been fleshed-out into a feature length movie of its own. Boris Karloff, Mark Damon, Susy Andersen, and the rest of the cast do a wonderful job. Karloff is as creepy as ever in this tale. And Bava is at his best. Many of the scenes are bathed in a wonderful blue/green light that adds so much to the overall atmosphere. Wonderful set locations are also a highlight of this story. I'm also a sucker for the more Gothic settings in "The Wurdalak". I'll give the second segment a 9/10.

The third segment, "The Drop of Water", actually had more elements to freak me out than the other two. There is just something about this segment that creeps me out every time I see it. Again, Bava's fingerprints are on every detail of this story. The flashing blue/green light becomes more and more frightening as the movie progresses. I'll give the third segment a 9/10.

Bava really does a masterful job with all three segments of this anthology. For anyone not familiar with Bava, IMO, this would be a good place to start.

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