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La Maschera del demonio/Black Sunday (1960)

Related: Barbara Steele - Mario Bava - 1960 - Italian cinema - Viy (1835) - Nikolai Gogol - Italian horror

La Maschera del demonio / Black Sunday (1960) - Mario Bava [Amazon.com]

La Maschera del demonio/Black Sunday (1960) - Mario Bava [Amazon.com]
image sourced here.

Maschera del demonio, La/Black Sunday (1960) - Mario Bava [Amazon.com]
image sourced here.


  • La Maschera del demonio/Black Sunday (1960) - Mario Bava [Amazon.com]

    Black Sunday (La Maschera del demonio) is the title of a 1960 black and white Italian horror movie directed by Mario Bava, starring Barbara Steele who plays two roles, Katia Vajda and Princess Asa Vajda. This film is also known as The Mask of Satan, The Demon's Mask, The Hour When Dracula Comes, House of Fright, Mask of the Demon, and Revenge of the Vampire.

    The film is based on Viy, a story by Nikolai Gogol. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_maschera_del_demonio [Aug 2005]


    The reigning masterpiece of Italian horror cinema, Mario Bava's Black Sunday remains one of the most stylishly photographed of all horror films, ranking with any other black-and-white film of lasting repute. This was the master cameraman's official directorial debut, and his striking compositions are the work of a genuine artist in peak form. Loosely adapted from a story by Nikolai Gogol, this chilling vampire tale begins in 17th-century Moldavia, where the evil Princess Asa (Barbara Steele) is executed for witchcraft and vampirism, along with her brother Javutich (Arturo Dominici). Two centuries later, a pair of traveling doctors discover Asa's crypt and inadvertently revive the evil princess, whose scheme of vampiric revenge is aimed at her own identical descendant Princess Katia, an innocent beauty (also played by Steele) whose lifeblood will ensure Asa's immortality.
    Influenced by Universal's classic horror films of the '30s and British Hammer films of the late '50s, Black Sunday (released in Italy as The Mask of Satan) is a dark fairy tale, with horror queen Steele as the definitive embodiment of erotic horror. With shocking violence (tame by today's standards) and visual emphasis on tombs, secret passages, ominous castles, and unseen forces, the film offers a wealth of memorable imagery and inventive technique. Redubbed, rescored, and harshly edited for its American release in 1961, Black Sunday is presented on DVD in the original English-language director's cut of The Mask of Satan, never before available in the U.S. The perfect movie to watch on a dark and stormy night, this timeless classic is the Citizen Kane of horror films, entirely worthy of its lofty reputation. --Jeff Shannon for amazon.com

    Although the film makes some claim to be based on the Nikolai Gogol 1835 short story The Vij there is virtually nothing of this in the finished script. The Vij was set around a night in a crypt as the hero waits for the princess to arise, a scene which is puzzlingly missing from the film. The main sequence of The Vij would have been perfect for the filmís extended climax, but isnít used - indeed the climax the film has is oddly anti-climactic. Bava in subsequent films demonstrated himself to be a director less concerned with plot than with visual set-pieces and this is probably the problem. The script here seems oddly unbalanced in many ways - it, for instance, makes mistakes like having the vampires engage in ordinary fistfights with the heroes which rob them of their supernatural menace; it also jumbles vampires in with what should really be a straight-forward reincarnated witch story. Nevertheless it is a classic. --Richard Scheib 1994, http://www.moria.co.nz/horror/blacksunday.htm [May 2004]

    A devotee of Russian literature, Mario Bava chose Nikolai Gogol's story "Vij" as the foundation for La maschera del demonio [Black Sunday, 1960], the last great B&W Gothic horror film. An instant international success, the film made an overnight star of British actress Barbara Steele, who was quickly enthroned as the screen's first Queen of Horror. The film's title was a play on the Italian release title of Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein--La Maschera di Frankenstein--and established an ironic sensibility that was perpetuated in the titles and attitudes of Bava's subsequent work. --Tim Lucas, http://www.imagesjournal.com/issue05/infocus/bavabio.htm [May 2004]

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