Black Sunday (1960) Poster

(1960)

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • In 1830 Moldavia, two traveling professors—Dr. Choma Kruvajan (Andrea Checchi) and his assistant Dr. Andrei Gorobec (John Richardson)—on their way from St Petersburg to a medical conference in Moscow inadvertantly awaken the dead Princess Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele), put to death 200 years earlier for practicing witchcraft by hammering a spiked mask on her head.Now awakened, Asa plans on taking over the body of her lookalike descendent Katja Vajda (also played by Barbara Steele.)

  • Black Sunday (aka The Mask of Satan) is loosely based on Russian author Nikolai Gogol's short story "Viy", first published in the first volume of his collection of tales entitled Mirgorod (1835). "Viy" was adapted for the movie by Ennio De Concini, Mario Serandrei, Marcello Coscia, and director Mario Bava.

  • Originally titled La machera del demonio (The Mask of the Demon), the AIP English version changed the title and added the opening narration which begins with: "One day in each century, it is said that Satan walks the among us. That day is called "Black Sunday".

  • A bat flies at Kruvajan, and he shoots at it, destroying the crucifix hanging over Asa's coffin, placed there so that it would prevent her from rising should she ever awaken in her tomb. Kruvajan then removes some artifacts from Asa's tomb, including the mask that was hammered into her head before she was burned at the stake. In the process, he cuts himself, and a bit of blood drops on Asa's corpse. The removal of the crucifix and the mask, and the drops of blood seem to be all it takes to awaken the sleeping witch.

  • Yes. "Viy" is in the public domain and can be read or downloaded from several websites including here.

  • It's a very loose connection. Both the movie and the story are set in the Ukraine, and the names of the principle protagonists are similar...Gogol's Tiberi Gorobets becomes Bava's Andre Grobec and Gogol's Khoma Brut becomes Bava's Choma Kruvajan. Both stories revolve around a beautiful witch who comes back to life. There, the similarity ends. The Russian film Viy (1967) (1967) is much closer to the original Gogol story.

  • American International Pictures (AIP) bought the marketing rights of the movie for 100,000 USD. However, in order to make the movie more marketable for American audiences, AIP cut out roughly three minutes of violence and offensive content. Both English versions available also differ in terms of their dubbing. For example. in the Italian original, Asa and Igor Javutich are brother and sister. Since this results in incest, the US version made Javutich into Asa's servant. Some dialogue was toned down for the US version. For example, when Asa says "You too can find the joy and happiness of Hades!", the AIP turned it into "You too can find the joy and happiness of hating!" The voice-over at the beginning of the movie was slightly changed, too.

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