Black Sunday (1960)

Hello! My name’s Adam, and welcome to Day 14 of my 31 Days Of Horror. One of my favourite things about working my way through my unwatched Blu-Rays is when you stumble across an absolute gem. Often you have no idea why you bought it, or where, or when, but putting it on and realising what you’ve stumbled on is a damn good feeling. Tonight, it was Black Sunday.

Directed by Mario Bava, and based heavily on a short story by Nikolai Gogol, Black Sunday was a film so reviled and over the top that it was banned on its release in the UK – eventually forcing a new edit so it could be realised here and in America in 1968. I’ve seen both versions and, yeah, it’s pretty great!

But anyway, what’s it all about then? The film opens in seventeenth century Moldavia, and a young woman, Princess Asa, has been sentenced to death for witchcraft by her own brother. As the crowd gather to prepare to burn her at the stake, Asa curses her brother, condemning his descendants and that she will return. She is eventually silenced by a spiked mask resembling Satan being nailed to her face. Ick.

Two centuries pass, and we return to Moldavia with Dr Thomas Kruvajan and his assistant, Dr Andrew Gorobec. While travelling, the pair stumble on an ancient chapel, where they discover Asa’s tomb. Being a curious man, and, frankly, a bit of a dick, Kruvajan forces his way into the tomb, cutting his hand on the broken glass and splashing the witch’s preserved body with blood.

Naturally, the blood sets into motion the reanimation of the witch, whose body grows in strength in a series of quite startlingly awesome imagery. As Asa grows in strength, her sight becomes set on Katia, her absolute spitting image, who resides in the castle. Both doctors become embroiled in the dark conspiracy, taking opposite sides before the final showdown between the walking corpses and the forces of good can take place.

I mean, it’s pretty great. Sometimes when I watch older films, I find myself in awe. There’s a different type of stagecraft to this era of movies – particularly gothic horror and this one has it in buckets. You can certainly see why filmmakers like Tim Burton list this as their favourite horrors of all time – this is as classic as they get.

Oh, and, if you have the chance – watch the uncut version which is called ‘The Mask Of Satan’ – it’s fantastic.

Anyway, see you tomorrow!

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