Another night in the igloo, another nightmare. Or was it real?
Asleep, or awake, I found myself lying on my bed trying to focus on a shadowy mass at the other end of my dwelling...
What is this that stands before me? Figure in black which points at me!
Turn around quick, and start to run, find out I'm the chosen one - oh no!
Big black shape with eyes of fire, telling people their desire, Satan's sitting there, he's smiling - watches those flames get higher and higher!
Oh no, no, please God help me! Is it the end, my friend? Satan's coming 'round the bend - people running 'cause they're scared - the people better go and beware! No, no, please, no!
Then I woke up for real - it was just a dream. Thought so.
BLACK SABBATH (1963)
I’m sorry, but Italian horror has never really done it for me. If I was spoiling for a fight (and I usually am) I’d say that Italian horror consists solely of big shiny knives, garish colours and ‘sexy’ women who actually aren’t sexy at all and look like drag queens.
That said I was more than willing to give Black Sabbath a chance. But I’m sorry to say that I still came away from it feeling distinctly underwhelmed.
Black Sabbath, a film by the legendary Mario Bava, is an anthology of 3 short horrors:
The Telephone – A ‘sexy’ woman who actually isn’t very sexy at all is harassed by an obscene caller. Big shiny knives are involved. The twist is pretty lame. Next please.
The Wurdalak – This is a lot more like it, thanks in no small part to a sinister as hell Boris Karloff who plays Gorca, a man turned into a vampire type creature, cursed to attack those he loves the most. The scene with the undead child outside the house pleading for his mama is pretty chilling. And it looks great, with lots of garish colours. However, the heroine is played by a ‘sexy’ woman who actually isn’t sexy at all and look more like a drag queen.
The Last Drop – A bitter nurse steals a ring from a dead patient and gets her comeuppance. Very Tales of the Crypt. The dead patient is bloody hideous and is exactly the sort of thing that would have shat me right up as a kid. But I’m 72 now and made of sterner stuff…
Sorry about that.
One problem I have with Black Sabbath is that the 3 tales don’t really come together as a whole(certainly not in the way that a wonderful Amicus anthology would, for example). The Telephone and The Last Drop have a similar theme I suppose, as both women are terrorised by real or imagined horrors in the supposed safety of their homes, but then where is The Wurdalak – a gothic, medieval vampire tale – meant to fit in?
So as I said, I was underwhelmed by Black Sabbath. The Wurdalak was the only highlight for me with its on-form Karloff, foreboding atmosphere and some genuinely imaginative cinematography. I’m not the kind of person who ever scores films out of 10 - that method is way too simple and easy, and I’ll fight until my dying breath before a review of mine ends in such a way - but If I was to mark the 3 tales individually, I’d give them a 4, 6 and 5 respectively. 15/30 then. Which is 5/10.
Oh, and I almost forget the end – where, for some bizarre reason the camera pulls away to reveal that Karloff is actually on a fake horse, and we see all the special effects guys and scenery shifters around him. If I’d been enjoying the film this would have ruined it.
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