REVIEW: Black Sabbath (I tre volti della paura) (Blu-ray)

12:02 PM, Aug 16, 2013   |    comments
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Black Sabbath (I tre volti della paura) (Blu-ray)

Kino Video / 1963 / 92 min. / NR

THE FILM:

The anthology horror film was popular back in the 1960's and early 1970's but seems to have gone the way of the dodo in the 21st century. Every once in a while we'll get a low-budget horror anthology direct to video (or actually in art house theaters like the V/H/S movies) but having a major studio with actual movie stars and an accomplished director (or directors) tackling an anthology? I think the last time that happened was in 1983 and THE TWILIGHT ZONE movie. But back in the day theaters would get the likes of COMEDY OF TERRORS, TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS, DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS and TALES FROM THE CRYPT on a pretty regular basis. They would all feature several spooky stories, some usually better than others, and star such luminaries of the genre as Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence and Peter Lorre among others. One of the best horror anthologies of all time came from Italy courtesy of the grand master of giallo, Mario Bava; I TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA, aka. BLACK SABBATH.

When it was released in America in1963, BLACK SABBATH was heavily altered from the original Italian version. Not only were the stories told in a different order, they were edited (some slightly, some heavily), the linking introductions with Boris Karloff were different and Roberto Nicolosi's score was removed in favor of Lex Baxter's. Only the Italian version is presented here.

The three stories are all taken from classic literature and Bava gives each one a unique look and feel. The first story is the giallo "The Telephone" in which a high priced call girl (Michèle Mercier) starts receiving threatening phone calls from a man who taunts her by telling her what she is wearing, what she is doing, and how much he wants to kill her.

Next up is the classic Universal monster inspired "The Wurdalek." Karloff plays the head of a family who is plagued by the titular creature, a vampire-type monster who can only feed on the blood of loved ones. When Count Vladimir d'Urfe (Mark Damon) stumbles upon the family after finding one of their elaborate daggers sticking out of the back of a headless body, he is in for a night he will never forget... if he survives it.

Finally, "The Drop of Water" may have originally been written by Ivan Chekhov, but it feels like pure Edgar Allan Poe. Nurse Chester (Jacqueline Pierreux) just can't help taking the ornate ring from the body of the deceased medium she has been asked to prepare for burial. When she gets home with her treasure, not only does the pestering fly that bugged her during her work show up, but the sound of dripping water from a glass she knocked over while preparing the body start echoing through her apartment. Very soon, she discovers that is not all that followed her home...

There isn't a single weak story in BLACK SABBATH, a rarity for an anthology film. Each story is completely different in tone and execution and masterfully told. If you are looking for a great classic horror film, this is it. If only Kino would have delivered both the Italian and International cuts of the movie...

THE DISC:

The anamorphic 1.77 transfer is very pleasing though not perfect. While some speckling and light scratching are visible, the source print used is in very nice condition. The old 1960's Technicolor is perfectly saturated. Detail is a bit on the soft side but nothing really noticeable.

The Italian PCM 2.0 mono soundtrack fares about the same. Some age related hiss but the source track is very clean.

THE EXTRAS:

Nothing! Seriously! Some trailers for other Bava movies are included but that is it. Collectors will not want to discard their old Anchor Bay DVD that had several excellent supplements.

MY SAY:

Despite the lack of supplements and/or the International cut of the movie, Kino delivers a very nice disc of I TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA. The movie still packs a punch and rightfully retains its place as one of the best horror films of the 1960s. Recommended!

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