Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Black Sabbath (1964, Mario Bava)


Years later I finally viewed this movie thanks to Shudder (I believe it was in 2018, maybe). Black Sabbath is probably Mario Bava’s best film although a few others do qualify, and this also inspired a certain famous rock band that I am a big fan of as well. Black Sabbath is easily one of the best anthologies ever made, and although one of the stories is weaker than the other ones all of them are still pretty great and make the film a quality viewing experience. Bava wisely sticks to only three stories, and has the legendary Boris Karloff narrate and star in the film as well. The title of the three tales are The Drop of Water, The Wurdulak, and The Telephone.

Maybe it’s the copy I viewed or the Wikipedia page is wrong (shocker!) yet the version I watched had The Drop of Water story first. This tale is utterly terrifying and has an marvelously creepy finale that works incredibly well. A woman foolishly steals a ring off of a dead woman’s finger and discovers too late that you should never rob from the dead. The dummy featured in this movie is pretty freaky looking, and this story is a great exercise in unbearable tension. I feel this one was the best of the bunch honestly, and shows that Bava was a master of the supernatural, a strong element of most of his movies.

The Wurdulak is Bava making a vampire story that is one of the best vampire stories ever put to film. Planet of the Vampires also shows that Bava has a knack for vampire films, and it’s a shame he didn’t make more of them. Karloff appears as the head of a family that has a serious and very unique vampire problem. There’s plenty of bite in this one hehe, not to mention those who end up becoming the undead turn on their own family members. Many consider this tale the best of the bunch, yet I feel it’s not as scary as Water is although the gore factor is certainly featured in this one pretty well.

Finally there is The Telephone, which although is the weakest of the bunch is still very suspenseful and well crafted. Michèle Mercier is a woman who is haunted by her former boyfriend, who she believes was in prison but has in fact broken out and is seeking revenge. It just occurred to me that each of the stories are very bottle episode in nature, as all of the characters are limited to one particular location. How this one concludes is rather bleak, although that can be said of all of the tales in this movie.

Although I’m not sure if Bava should have featured a wrap around story, I’m fine with how this works as a book style movie with different tales featuring new people each time. Black Sabbath is easily one of the best horror films of the 1960s, and is easily in my Top 100 horror movies.

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