“Black Sunday,” also known as “The Mask of Satan” in Italy, is a legendary horror film directed by Mario Bava. While not known by your average movie goer this is one of the most influential horror films of all time. Even mainstream filmmakers like Tim Burton have been influenced by this film. This is a a fantastic horror film that just so happens to be very artistic as well.
The film opens with a witch being sentenced to death for sorcery by her brother. Before she is burned at the stake she places a curse upon his descendants. A metal mask with sharp spikes on the inside, known as the “Mask of Satan,” is placed on her face and hammered on with a huge mallet. Two centuries later a doctor and his assistant are traveling through the same town where the witch was burned. Their carriage breaks down and while waiting for the coachmen to fix it the two wander into a nearby crypt. They see the witches’ coffin and notice the “Mask of Satan” through a glass panel. One of them breaks the panel by accident when striking at a bat. They remove the mask, one of them cuts their hands on the glass, a drop of blood lands on the face of the corpse and the blood resurrects the witch.
Atmospheric, artsy and creepy are the words I would use to describe this film. Imagine a medieval, fairy tale like setting mixed with a Universal monster movie vibe and that gives you an idea of this film. The use of castles, tombs and more create a great, creepy atmosphere. This film and “Black Sabbath,” which I previously reviewed, serve as the essence of Mario Bava’s filmmaking style.
Quite a graphic horror film for its time as well. In the opening sequence we see the witch being branded and getting the masked hammered on her face.
One of the best horror films ever made. If you haven’t seen it then you must as it is a classic that lives up to its reputation. Even if you have a hard time watching black and white horror films try to get through it because it paved the way for modern horror films and filmmakers.