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La Maschera del Demonio

Black Sunday
The Mask of Satan / Die Stunde wenn Dracula kommt / Revenge of the Vampire / Mask of the Demon

Italy 1960
produced by
Massimo De Rita for Galatea Film, Jolly Film
directed by Mario Bava
starring Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici, Enrico Olivieri, Antonio Pierfederici, Tino Bianchi, Clara Bindi, Mario Passante, Renato Terra, Germana Dominici
screenplay by Ennio De Concini, Mario Serandrei, based on the short story The Vij by Nikolai Gogol, music by Roberto Nicolosi, cinematography by Mario Bava

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Moldavia, the Dark Ages: Witch Asa (Barbara Steele) & her lover Javutich (Arturo Dominici) are branded with the sign of Satan, masks with spikes on the inside to destroy their features are forced upon them & their lifeless bodies are buried.

200 years later: 2 doctors, Andrej (John Richardson) & his mentor Kruvajan (Andrea Checchi) are passing through the very forest Asa & Javutich were buried in, stumble over her crypt, &, with the typical mix of curiosity, ignorance & neglect, they open her coffin, remove her mask & somehow, some of Kruvajan's blood gets onto her face ... of course, that soon gives her the power to revive Javutich, who soon goes after local nobleman Vajda (Ivo Garrani), a descendant of the man who killed them 200 years ago, but has to refrain from killing him only because that man has taken the precautions of wearing a cruzifix.

But Javutich & Asa have other plans & soon bring Kruvajan, who has since taken up residence in the nearby village with Andrej, under their spell, & he finishes what Javutich has begun.

The next day, Andrej, looking for his mentor at castle Vajda, learns what his mentor is supposed to have tone from Vajda's son Constantine (Enrico Olivieri) & daughter Katja, a splitting image of Asa (& thus also played by Barbara Steele). & while he, together with Constantine & the local priest (Antonio Pierfederici) still tries to figure out what on earth is happening here - & how to fight it -, Javutich & Katja already plan to bring Katja under their spell, to suck out her youth & make Asa young again ...

In the end, when Andrejh dashes in, the rejuvenation process seems almost complete, & Andrej prepares to murder Katja - whom he thinks to be asa - when he notices a cruzifix around her neck ... which she could never wear was she a witch ...

In the end, an angry mob of villagers burn Asa & Javutich, & with Asa being destroyed, life (& youth) returns to Katja ...

 


Despite a rather muddled screenplay, this is horror-filmmaking at its finest: A creepy atmosphere of unease effortlessly carries the story from beginning to end, helped by an ingenious use of the film's cheap & limited sets, & of course the eeriness of the onscreen-goings-on are perfectly mirrored uint he otherworldly beauty of Barbara Steele.

By the way the directorial debut of cinematographer Mario Bava (even though he seems to be rumored to have co-directed every other Italian film since roughly 1950 - usually with little proof). & even if he did make quite a few escellent movies (most notably Terrore nel Spazio/Planet of the Vampires) - and quite a few bad ones -, he (arguably) never against reached the heights of this one.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD