La maschera del demonio (1960)
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- Black Sunday
- 87 min.
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Officially Mario Bava's first film, Black Sunday (AKA The Mask of Satan) looks like a Universal Monster film, but wow, is it ever shockingly gruesome for 1960! A loose adaptation of Gogol's Viy, the film has the virtue of being steeped in Ukrainian folklore (or possibly, faux-lore), which means old horror buffs won't know all the tropes by heart. The demon-witch at the center of the story has things in common with several Old World monsters (including vampires), but is her own thing. Bava is a few years away from what is considered the first Giallo film, but this is Giallo before Giallo, trading strange colors with wonderfully Gothic black and white cinematography, but also pulling no punches with visceral body horror - those Italian directors sure like to make you squirm, don't they? I do think the ending is a bit pat, and of course, the English dubbing on Italian movies of this era is always an annoyance to me, but visually, Black Sunday is as strong or stronger than the most highly regarded Universal Monster films it is emulating.
senses of cinema on Black Sunday.
Excellent atmospheric horror. This flick is actually pretty scary.
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In 8 official lists
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This movie ranks #57 in FilmTV's The Best Italian Films
This movie ranks #65 in BFI's 100 European Horror Films
This movie ranks #76 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films
This movie ranks #78 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000
This movie ranks #132 in Roy Menarini's Il Grande Cinema Italiano
This movie ranks #350 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #563 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #590 in Time Out's 1000 Films to Change Your Life