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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 patriarch who has become a vampire-like monster, and a nurse who is haunted by her ring's rightful owner.

Director:

Mario Bava

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview:
Michèle Mercier ... Rosy (segment "Il telefono")
Lidia Alfonsi 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 Rika Dialyna ... Maria (segment "I Wurdalak") (as Rica Dialina)
Glauco Onorato 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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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A story that goes beyond the boundaries of the Supernatural to the half-world of the living dead... Where a woman's soul inhabits a fly's body... where vampires suck only the blood of those they love dearest. See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | France | USA

Language:

Italian | English

Release Date:

6 May 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Sabbath See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During "The Wurdalak" segment, Boris Karloff almost never blinks. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Fear, Panic & Censorship (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

And you will live in terror...
30 March 2008 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

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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