For some unknown reason, here recently I've been in the mood to watch a lot of vintage 1960s-70s Italian horror movies. Hardly any other film comes as highly recommended as Black Sunday and after viewing this incredibly moody effort, I can easily see why. It's by far one of the most beautifully photographed films I've seen of any genre. It's also one of the most atmospheric; a sense of horror and dread hang over every frame, and yet it is a film whose power does not lie entirely in the narrative. It's hidden somewhere, pretty much everywhere... in dark corners, in secret crypts, in fog, in shadows... The shots in this film are brilliantly composed. It is a true triumph for director and cinematographer Mario Bava, who provides such rich, dream-like technical depth that (pardon the cliché) this film truly does transport viewers somewhere else in time. Even though this movie is best appreciated as an exercise in style and technique, the plot line (witch who is executed and returns centuries later to get revenge on the descendants of her executioners) is also enjoyable. So is Barbara Steele, who is ideally cast in a dual role as both the evil witch and the pure heroine. She's an actress who can switch from innocent and ravishing to hideous and horrific with the flick of an eyelash. No wonder she's considered the queen of horror. She deserves to be.
A vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch's beautiful look-alike descendant, with only the girl's brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.
January 12, 2021