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Black Sabbath (1963)

I tre volti della paura (original title)
Not Rated | | Horror | 6 May 1964 (USA)
Boris Karloff hosts a trio of horror stories concerning a stalked call girl, a vampire-like monster who preys on his family, and a nurse who is haunted by her ring's rightful owner.


Mario Bava


Anton Chekhov (freely adapted from three stories by) (as Cechov), Aleksei Tolstoy (freely adapted from three stories by) (as Tolstoi) | 4 more credits »
2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Michèle Mercier ... Rosy (segment "Il telefono")
Lidia Alfonsi ... Mary (segment "Il telefono") (as Lydia Alfonsi)
Boris Karloff ... Gorca (segment "I Wurdalak")
Mark Damon ... Vladimir D'Urfe (segment "I Wurdalak")
Susy Andersen ... Sdenka (segment "I Wurdalak")
Massimo Righi ... Pietro (segment "I Wurdalak")
Rika Dialyna ... Maria (segment "I Wurdalak") (as Rica Dialina)
Glauco Onorato ... Giorgio (segment "I Wurdalak")
Jacqueline Pierreux ... Helen Chester (segment "La goccia d'acqua")
Milly Milly ... The Maid (segment "La goccia d'acqua") (as Milly Monti)
Harriet Medin ... Neighbor (segment "La goccia d'acqua")
Gustavo De Nardo ... Police Inspector (segment "La goccia d'acqua")
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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


Not Since 'FRANKENSTEIN' Have You Seen Such Horror! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The films Italian title is "I Tre volti della paura", which means "The Three Faces of Fear." See more »


In the final shot of the dead medium in her bedroom, the actress playing the corpse is obviously breathing. See more »


[first lines]
Boris Karloff: Come closer, please! I've something to tell you. Ladies and gentlemen, how do you do? This is BLACK SABBATH. You are about to see three tales of terror... and the supernatural. I do hope you haven't come alone. As you will see from one of our tales, vampires - wurdulaks - abound everywhere. Is that one, sitting behind you now? You can't be too careful, you know. They look perfectly normal, and indeed they are. Except... they only drink the blood of those whom they love the best. Ah...
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Alternate Versions

As documented by Tim Lucas (in Video Watchdog #5), the order of the segments was rearranged by AIP for the English-language release. The original ordering was: "The Telephone," "The Wurdalak," and "The Drop of Water." In addition, "The Telephone" was re-dubbed and slightly re-cut by Bava at AIP's request to create a supernatural angle and disguise the lesbian overtones of the story. See more »


Featured in Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre (2002) See more »

User Reviews

3 Tales of Fear
27 March 2001 | by eibon09See 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).

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Italian | English

Release Date:

6 May 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Sabbath See more »

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Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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