I'm starting a new feature to this blog. No it's not another post a week (that be the day) but a feature. At the last Thursday of every month I will be reviewing an Italian horror films. I realize my love of Argento is absurd but I haven't taken all the much notice to the other legends such as Bava and Fulci, I still haven't seen Zombi 2...please don't kill me. I'm going to be expanding my love of the Italian horror films at the very least once a month and my first is of Mario Bava's Black Sunday.
A hint of Poe hidden beneath the surface Black Sunday takes to the macabre, surreal Gothic imagery and religious symbolism (the reoccurring presence of the serpent, the Griffith, etc). A witch with vampirism manners is a bit of controversy in the film as Princess Asa bites and drinks the blood of her victims only to offer them a trance in death where they're under her control. It sounds more in likes to the vampire myths than it does the spell casting witch myth, but in my opinion the film calls her a witch without so much of a hesitation on the other word in that it is a witch film, despite the similarities. The dialog is no more odd than an Argento script and the dubbing no better so be cautious of that. The effects probably outstanding at the time still work for now, the witch's transformation is subtle enough that I only noticed when it took full form. Bava as a director is stunning, and brave for the time. As said the first scene is the most horrific in the entire set but so effective in that Bava shows no fear in disporting the graphic execution, blood and all. Having been released the same year as Hitchcock's Psycho which also had a profound impact at exposing gore on camera.
I'm not sure what captivates me about Black Sunday as I'm even tolerant towards the melodramatic love between Andre and Katia. Its almost feels like an inexplicable phenomenon when I love a film at first viewing. Rarely does it occur as films have to sit and marinate, if you will, before I account them as exceptional. Black Sunday is the most recent of phenomenons. Back to being objective though, while this Bava's first piece and the one that crowned him as an Italian horror bravado not all consider it his best. And as mentioned if you hate bad dubbing why consider the country's genre films. I hate dubbing so I wish I was able to watch it in Italian with subtitles, but I'm able to take it as it is. The same goes for acting, its not great in all places but I'm more forgiving as I hold certain things over others. Black Sunday is a classic watch for Italian horror fans and a great introduction to those just starting in the sub-genre.