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Black Sunday (1960)

La maschera del demonio (original title)
Not Rated | | Horror | 15 February 1961 (USA)
3:27 | Trailer
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, with only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.


Mario Bava


Ennio De Concini (screenplay), Mario Serandrei (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Barbara Steele ... Princess Asa Vajda / Katia Vajda (as Barbara Steel)
John Richardson ... Dr. Andrej Gorobec / Dr. Andreas Gorobec
Andrea Checchi ... Dr. Choma Kruvajan / Dr. Thomas Kruvajan
Ivo Garrani ... Prince Vajda
Arturo Dominici ... Igor Javutich / Javuto
Enrico Olivieri Enrico Olivieri ... Constantine Vajda
Antonio Pierfederici Antonio Pierfederici ... Priest
Tino Bianchi Tino Bianchi ... Ivan - Manservant
Clara Bindi Clara Bindi ... Innkeeper
Mario Passante ... Nikita - Coachman
Renato Terra ... Boris - Stablehand
Germana Dominici Germana Dominici ... Sonya - Innkeeper's Daughter


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


The Undead Demons of Hell Terrorize the World in an Orgy of Stark Horror! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


In its day, this was considered to be unnecessarily gruesome and indeed was banned in the UK until 1968. Even then, it was heavily cut. The full uncut version wasn't released in Britain until 1992. See more »


When Princess Asa pauses by her fathers coffin, she is wearing black stockings and shoes under her dress. She then leaves the room to look for the others where she is seen running down the hall barefoot and without stockings. See more »


[Andre expresses regret that he and superior, Dr. Kruvajan, will be late and miss the opening address at a medical conference in St. Petersburg]
Dr. Thomas Kruvajan: My son, how long have you been a doctor?
Dr. Andre Gorobec: Three years. I've been with you for two.
Dr. Thomas Kruvajan: When you've been in this business as long as I have, you'll learn to take the speeches at all of these medical conferences with a grain of salt.
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 »

Alternate Versions

La Maschera del Demonio in its Italian form has been shown on Italian television. This is the only complete, uncut version of the film which includes a scene between Ivo Garrani & Barbara Steele in an outdoor setting. See more »


Referenced in MadNight Movies: The Brain That Wouldn't Die (2014) See more »

User Reviews

Full of Atmosphere
3 November 2000 | by eibon09See 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Italian | English

Release Date:

15 February 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Sunday See more »

Filming Locations:

Rome, Lazio, Italy See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Galatea Film, Jolly Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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