Original Title: I tre volti della paura
Country: Italy, France, United States
Director: Mario Bava
Language: Italian, English
11.03.2020: This review was first published on 20.07.2018 and is being updated for a more complete review, together with the publishing of the YouTube Version.
Hello There! Welcome to Ulven Reviews!
Black Sabbath, original title I tre volti della paura, is another anthology horror movie. This one is Italian and entirely directed by the legendary filmmaker Mario Bava, telling three different, yet macabre, horror stories.
Satan’s sitting there, he’s smiling
I tre volti della paura AKA The Three Faces of Fear, but probably the best-known name Black Sabbath, one of the names for the Witches’ Sabbath, a gathering between witches and Satan. However, a Witches’ Sabbath never actually happened, and that’s just a catchy name for the movie that is not about witches or Satan.
The pioneers of Heavy and Doom Metal got their name from this movie. Today, the band led by Ozzy Osbourne is much more famous than the Italian film, even though it’s a movie by a legendary horror filmmaker, Mario Bava.
Like XX with the stop-motion animation, Black Sabbath also has introductory scenes. These scenes feature Boris Karloff’s presentations with a comedic tone. Karloff is also the antagonist in one of the stories.
The Three Faces
The first story is called The Telephone. Rosy (played by Michèle Mercier), is receiving threatening calls, from whom she believes is her former pimp, Frank (played by Milo Quesada). So Rosy calls her estranged friend Mary (played by Lydia Alfonsi) for help.
The second one is called The Wurdalak. Vladimir D’Urfe (played by Mark Damon) finds shelter with a family, whose patriarch, Gorca (played by Boris Karloff), went out to hunt a creature called Wurdalak and was still missing.
The third and last story is called The Drop of Water. Helen (played by Jacqueline Pierreux), while preparing the corpse of an old lady for her burial, steals the deceased’s ring, but her action won’t be without consequences.
I liked every one of the stories. Upon first watching, I felt the first story was a little under the others, but I changed my original opinion after watching it a second time. Now, I put every story on the same level.
The Telephone is the only story without a supernatural element. Instead of the fear of the unknown and intangible, it evokes the terror of what we already know that can hurt us.
In this case, Rosy is afraid of being killed by her former Pimp, who recently escaped prison. She knows he exists, he’s free, and can come after her looking for revenge.
The second story is a more traditional monster horror. The Wurdalak is a vampire from Slavic mythology. Differently than the typical vampire in popular culture, the Wurdalak feeds on the blood of his family members, turning them into Wurdalaks themselves.
The last story is more of a ghost story. After Helen steals the old lady’s ring, she starts to be hunted by the things she encountered in the corpse’s room, like a fly and a constant sound of water drops.
The first story is the one I cared the most about characters, I liked Rosy and Mary, and was rooting for them. The other two are not awful in this regard, but the first is clearly above.
The actors in the leading roles are all good, with that characteristic style of acting from the classic horror films. The performances I liked the most were from the second story, Mark Damon and Boris Karloff, specifically.
My favorite setting was Rosy’s apartment, a very luxurious and seemingly comfortable place. It looks livable, a real place, different than the house in Wurdalak, that appeared too theatrical for my taste.
However, The Wurdalak was the one with the best wardrobe. As a period story, the segment had some fancy costumes that made a clear distinction between the nobleman and the underprivileged family.
The cinematography is okay, there are no breathtaking shots that I remember, but the camera work is absolutely amazing and completely enhanced the suspense. The use of lights and colors is also gorgeous, and in this topic, The Drop of Water was the best.
Another thing that enhances the suspense is the musical score, all very well coordinated with the camera movements. However, the score is very generic, nothing special at all, lacks personality.
The worst thing by far is the special effects, it aged terribly. But as a movie from 1963 from outside Hollywood, it’s what they had to work with, so it’s more acceptable.
Black Sabbath is not a masterpiece of cinema, but it’s a decent scary movie, well-executed, and made what was possible with the technology available at that time. Because of that, I’m giving Black Sabbath 8 Moons.
That’s it for now. Don’t forget to schedule your appointment before having a meeting with Satan. Bye.