[Cinémathèque PT: 35mm] A quote from Johnny Sack comes to mind: "I mean what happened to this thing...? (pause) For god sake, we bend more rules than the Catholic church!". And that was precisely what was going thru my mind whilst i sat thru this amazing film screening - what ever happened to the horror/fantastic genre...? Where did it go?
Mario Bava's Black Sunday is an eerie and macabre horror film full of beautiful gothic imagery and incredible creative camera work. However, the real star here is the gorgeous Barbara Steele who goes from alluring to terrifying in the blink of an eye! However, I found myself checking my watch every couple of minutes. For some reason it just didn't hold my attention. Maybe I need to give it a second chance.
At this point that we are at in film progression, Black Sunday was something I laughed at in multiple scenes just because I compared it to modern day horror movies. But I had to then set myself in the mindset of a teenager in 1960, and this film was something never seen before. The close-up shots with the witch and dark demeanor of the movie was very creepy.
Artistic in its mood and atmosphere, but this is a case of depthless horror that goes only for scares, but isn't scary because it's too beautifully fine-tuned. Horror is an odd emotion: class and sophistication is a good trait for any kind of film, but scares are most effective when they feel dangerous and like a violation. Black Sunday is a quite good film (and is classy and sophisticated) but is safe and polite.
The most entertaining aspect of Black Sunday was the film score. Aside from that, this picture was disappointing in its lack of suspense for being in the genre of horror. While it was created in 1960, the predictability was excruciating dubbing it nothing short of boring. I found this to be a cringe-worthy approach to a "scary" film due to its complete lack of excitement or intruige.
As has been pointed out, Black Sunday is a gorgeous film with a great, spooky atmosphere. But the dubbing is pretty bad and no interesting theme really arises from the concept that the central witch offends Christian puerility through her connection to Satan. Marrying witchcraft to vampirism for a bit of a subgenre mashup was a cool idea, though, and I'd love to see more of Barbara Steel because of this.
Probably my favorite of Bava's films. Very great tonal quality at play here. Bava does a great job of mixing sound and music into his horrific moments to amp up the terror and creepy tone. There is some bad dubbing and weak voice acting at times, but overall this film is stylistic delightful and one of the better giallo films. And Barbara Steele's eyes... yikes! So awesome.
Black Sunday, is striking in some of its visual aspect as well as its classic musical score, which was enjoyable. While the film would be considered a horror film of its time, it lacks any truly terrifying moments in comparison to today’s standards. While there are a few notable scenes worthy of the genre’s name, the story as a whole isn’t entirely riveting and so not entirely worth the watch.