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Black Sunday (1960) – Episode 40 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“You, too, can feel the joy and happiness of hating.” Hmmm, words like joy and happiness used to describe hate? Sounds enticing, right? Join Chad Hunt, Whitney Collazo, and Jeff Mohr, along with guest host Bill Mulligan, as they celebrate the early product of Mario Bava’s genius known as Black Sunday (1960).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 40 – Black Sunday (1960)

“Viy,” a short story by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, provides a loose foundation for the film’s screenplay, written by Ennio De Concini and Mario Serandrei. Mario Bava is the director and cinematographer of Black Sunday and a beautifully shot film it is. Even though Black Sunday is Bava’s first official credit as the director of a feature film, he has dozens of credits as cinematographer as well as a few uncredited turns as director.

Released in the U.S. by American International Pictures, Black Sunday tells the story of a brother and sister burned at the stake as vampires. Or is it witches? Just before having spiked iron masks slammed home on their face with a gigantic mallet, they curse all future generations of the family. Flash forward 200 years when an incredibly inept doctor breaks the seals on Princess Asa’s crypt and then her coffin, initiates her resurrection by dripping blood on her (The Doctor That Dripped Blood?) so she can seek vengeance on the current incarnation of her family. Her plan includes raising her brother Igor from the dead and swapping bodies with her beautiful lookalike descendant, Katia. Barbara Steele is brilliant as Princess Asa/Katia and Arturo Dominici plays her evil accomplice, Igor. Other key players include Katia’s father (Ivo Garrani) and the two doctors (John Richardson and Andrea Checchi).

Whitney is impressed by Barbara Steele’s ability to play two such dichotomous roles: the consummately evil Asa and the innocent Katia. It is the spiked, iron masks and how they are pounded in place in the opening scene that leaves an impression on Chad. Bill, an avowed Bava fan, extols the virtues of the black and white cinematography, the set design, and the shot construction. Wholeheartedly agreeing with Bill, Jeff adds how impressed he is with the camera movement within those sets. You’re probably not surprised the Grue Crew thinks Black Sunday is a genuinely great film and is a sign of future promise Bava so expertly fulfilled.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. On the next episode in our very flexible schedule, we‘ll be covering the cult classic The Hideous Sun Demon (1958).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcast, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Episode 10 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“You’re freaks! I’m a man! The last man…” Thus screams Dr. Robert Morgan at the vampires of the post-pandemic world depicted in The Last Man on Earth (1964). Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – for our somewhat historic 10th episode as we suit up alongside Morgan to do battle against the vampiric horde. Unfortunately, Erin Miskell, the glue that holds The Classic Era’s Grue Crew together, is on special assignment investigating Dr. Caligari’s cabinet … from the inside, and was not able to join us in this battle.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

Episode 10 – The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Based on Richard Matheson’s classic, dark, science fiction novel, I Am Legend (1954), The Last Man on Earth is a joint Italian-U.S. production, filmed in Italy and distributed by American International Pictures. Directed by Sidney Salkow on a shoestring budget, The Last Man on Earth follows Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) as he goes about his daily life as the titular character. By day, his time is spent scrounging for supplies and searching out, killing, and burning the infected vampires. By night, he fends off the still shambling remnants of the population or listens to jazz records backed with the weak cries from his infected, former colleague to “Come out Morgan … come out Morgan.”

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: Did the filmmakers construct a believable post-pandemic world? Since the story takes place in Los Angeles, how did they manage to create a piece of California in Italy? How does Price’s performance as Morgan in this low budget, Italian collaboration compare to his other roles? Exactly who the the heck is co-writer Logan Swanson? What did Richard Matheson think of The Last Man on Earth? How closely does this adaptation follow the plot of Matheson’s novel? How does The Last Man on Earth rank compared withThe Omega Man (1971) and I Am Legend (2007), the other adaptations of Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend? What happened to the script Matheson wrote for Hammer Films in the late 1950s? Why does The Last Man on Earth (1964) remind us so much of George Romero’s Night of the LIving Dead (1968)?

If you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these memorable comments:

  • “I never turn down a stake.”
  • “It’s not the garlic keeping them away; it’s the dirty underwear.”
  • “We’re coming to get you Morgan.”
  • “Everybody knows Vincent Price has Tyrannosaurus Rex hands.”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming schedule includes Village of the Damned (1960), Viy (1967), and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the movies we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!