I'm a huge sucker for horror anthology movies. Everything from 'Creepshow' to 'Trick r Treat' to 'Trilogy of Terror', I instantly fall in love with. It's like getting three episodes of 'The Twilight Zone,' but in the horror genre. And who better to give us a horror anthology than the Italian iconic director Mario Bava. With his films 'Black Sunday' and 'The Evil Eye,' Bava made a permanent imprint in horror, and his films still scare people today, which is something that modern horror movies lack. 'Black Sabbath' features three tales, which in my opinion get scarier which each segment. Add to that, Boris Karloff popping up throughout the film, and we have a solid and frightening film with some terrifying images that will haunt you for days.
Karloff introduces the whole film, much like Rod Serling intro'd 'The Twilight Zone', and immediately we are at our first segment, which is titled 'The Telephone'. We follow a young and very pretty call-girl named Rosy (Michele Mercier), who is coming home from a long night of work, and as she is getting into her nightgown, her phone rings. Then it rings again and again. Each time she picks up, she is met with only silence on the other end of the line. However, after the third or fourth call, there is a creepy voice that says, "I want to kill you and see you die", amongst other horrible things. The phone keeps ringing and threatening Rosy, where she believes that the voice on the other end of the phone is her former pimp, who she put away in prison, but seems to have escaped. Rosy calls her long-lost lesbian lover Mary (Lydia Alfonsi) instead of the police to come over and help protect her. There are a few big twists and turns here that involve a large knife and pantyhose that lead up to the chilling climax.
The second segment has us travel the early 19th century in Europe in a short entitled, 'The Wurdalek,' which follows a young wealthy man traveling the countryside, Count Vladimir (Mark Damon), who comes across a headless man with a shiny dagger protruding from his back. Vladimir takes the dagger and wanders into a small village where he sees several of the same daggers hanging in a window, with one missing. These daggers happen to be in the home of Giorgio (Glauco Onorato) who lives with his wife and kids, his brother's family, and his father Gorcha (Karloff). Vladimir asks to stay the night in Giorgio's home as they tell him Gorcha left the house several days ago with the dagger to hunt and kill the Wurdalek, a vampire who feeds on human blood, particularly those closest to them. Once Gorcha arrives at midnight, the family lets him in, even though they know he has now turned into a vampire. Well, you can pretty much figure out where it goes from here. One by one, the family is killed. There is a super creepy scene in this segment that involves a kid.
And Bava has saved the best for last with 'The Drop of Water,' which still gives me nightmares to this day. In this final segment, we center on Nurse Chester (Jacqueline Pierreux),who is called to prepare the body of a recently deceased woman who was known in the present-day community as a spiritual medium who could talk with the dead. When you see the corpse frozen in a terrifying expression, the image won't leave your mind for days. As Nurse Chester is prepping the body for burial, she notices a large gemstone ring on the dead woman's fingers. Thinking she can get a lot of money for it, she steals the ring and brings it home. Well, once she is in her apartment, strange things start happening, such as the sound of dripping water, flies buzzing around, and seeing that scary-as-hell dead woman creeping closer and closer, until the ultimate climax. Just writing about it gives me the creeps.
Bava has given us an amazing and chilling ride into the mouth of horror. Each segment is done well with good acting, great storytelling, and frightening moments, and never uses cheap scare tactics. This is a must-have for any horror fan and features a bit of blood and the great Boris Karloff.
'Black Sabbath' comes with an "as is" 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Kino Lober tends to use the "as is" video presentations with their releases, meaning there isn't a whole lot of cleanup on the image, however, this particular film looks a little more cleaned up than usual. Throughout the entire film, there are specks of dirt, hairs, and scratches on the print with a bit of grain that gives the film that 60s filmic look. The detail is decent, considering the film, but the whole picture is mostly soft, as you can't make out fine details in anything.
The colors do pop for the most part and have different color schemes to each segment. From the gold and red colors of 'The Telephone', to the dark blues and greens in 'The Wurdalek', and finally the bright neon lights in 'The Drop of Water', that makes me think of films made in present day Thailand and each color looks great, even if some tend to be a little under-saturated at times. Despite its age and quality, this video presentation is solid, with no banding, edge enhancement, or compression issues. I was satisfied with this.
This release comes with a Linear PCM 2.0 mono audio mix. Much like the video presentation, the audio has its inherent problems as well. Some hissing, cracks, and pops can be heard throughout, but that all seems to be a part of the whole horror film experience from the 60s. The dialogue is always clear for the most part, but is unfortunately only in Italian with English subtitles.
Even when people are speaking English, it is dubbed in Italian, and therefore the audio with the actor's lips doesn't always match up. Other than that, the score is amazing and provides some great crescendos and suspenseful moments.
'Black Sabbath' is an amazing horror anthology film. A must-own for any genre fan. The segments are perfectly made with great thrills and scares. The video and audio are on the better side of the "as is" presentations that we have come to epect from Kino Lober. There are no extras on this unfortunately, but that shouldn't sway you. This is pure classic horror cinema at its finest. Recommended.