Black Sunday (UK - BD RB)
Marcus puts on the mask of Satan and enjoys a black Sunday on Blu-ray disc...
Black Sunday (aka The Mask of Satan) tells the story of Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele) as she is condemned to death for being a witch (or possibly a vampire, the plot isn't always entirely clear on that one) only to be resurrected two centuries later via an act of chance when Dr. Thomas Kruvajan (Andrea Checchi) and his assistant Dr. Andre Gorobec (John Richardson) accidentally release her from her burial chamber.
It isn't long into Black Sunday before you realise you are watching a horror film that pretty much set the standard in what followed. Released in 1960, this black and white tale of devils and witches feels almost as if it's everything classic spooky horrors set out to achieve. It has the visuals, it has the tone and it has basically the entire arsenal of tricks that horrors still rely upon today.
However what makes Black Sunday even better is that most modern horrors, whether they are inspired by Black Sunday intentionally or un-intentionally never really manage to capture what this classic has. Sure it feels old but somehow that adds charm and atmosphere and because of that you find yourself totally going with it on its own terms. None of this feels tongue in cheek, despite the melodramatic responses from many of its cast. The moody visuals manage to outlast the copy cat almost cartoon like horror visuals films like Black Sunday have inspired over the years and there's something in the culmination of all the parts that make this 50 plus year old horror last the test of time. It's obviously a bit gruesome but I'd still consider this a go to horror to watch with old enough to deal with it kids on a dark Halloween night. Black Sunday gets entertaining folk lore driven horror right on target and I really do miss this sort of thing in our modern horror selection.
The black and white visuals here lend themselves to a much better HD presentation than I would have predicted. There's still a fair bit of damage to the print, with the odd speck popping up from time to time but the deep blacks work well with the well lit detailed image and this one really does feel like it's been shown some love.
Of course, there's still areas for improvement as the film can be a little inconstant from scene to scene but enough has been tweaked here to make a Blu-ray release a joy. The image is never super sharp, but details can often feel very impressive. Textures and good and even the darkest of scenes never gets all that grubby. Black Sunday still feels of its time and that's a great thing. All that this HD release has done has made just the right improvements for it to stand up next to the other titles in your Blu-ray catalogue and not feel dated. Great stuff.
The LCPM 2.0 track is good but obviously limited. Multiple layers such as score, spooky sounds and dialogue never tread on each others toes and this offers a widened field, though of course one with strict boundaries given the age of the source. Once again, there's no avoiding the out of sync overdubbed dialogue but it's nice and strong and gets the job done regardless.
The commentary by Tim Lucas is a straight to the point bunch of facts that tells us what's happening and expanding on every element. This is a fans dream really and you'll come out overspilling with knowledge on the film.
The 'Introduction By Alan Jones' (02:52 SD) is packed with more background details and and speaks of Tim Burton's love of the film, which f course makes total sense given Burton's body of work.
There's an 'Interview With Barbara Steele' (08:44 SD)givening her thoughts on the film and her career, a deleted scene (03:32 SD) and a selection of trailers.
Also there's the 'Mask of Satan (01:26 HD) version of the fim for your viewing pleasure as well as 'I Vampiri' (01:21 HD) another additional film which we're told was the first Italian horror of the sound era. This also comes with a trailer as well as a Mario Bava trailer reel running at 54 mins in length.
Black Sunday will fill like a classic even if you've never seen it before. It has all the go to elements of a pitch perfect spooky horror and Bava plays with his elements beautifully. The disc looks and sounds great within it's HD overhaul and if you're not already sold, the extras are plentiful. Fans should eat this one up and newcomers should get a great deal of enjoyment out of it too I'd imagine.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 4th February 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: English: LPCM 2.0 Italian: LPCM 2.0,
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Extras: Commentary, Introduction, Deleted Scene, Trailer, Alternative Version of film 'Mask of Satan', Bonus Film: I Vampiri
Easter Egg: No
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi |
Length: 83 minutes
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