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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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A Bay of Blood (1971) – Episode 78 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Diabolical! Fiendish! Savage… You may not walk away from this one!“ The Grue Crew are on a giallo kick, and as everyone knows, there’s always room for giallo. (Groan …) Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan, and Chad Hunt, along with guest host Chad Lab – as they count the baker’s dozen of kills delivered in Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 78 – A Bay of Blood (1971)

Like a lot of foreign films released in the U.S., A Bay of Blood had a bit of an identity problem as it experienced several re-titles. Originally known as Reazione a catena, among its many other titles are Twitch of the Death NerveCarnageBlood Bath, and even The Last House on the Left, Part II.

Mario Bava serves as director, co-writer, and cinematographer in this giallo gem. An heiress is murdered at the outset and from then on, it is no holds barred as the rest of family schemes, maneuvers, and murders while trying to secure the family inheritance for themselves. You might need a scorecard to track who is being killed, how they are killed, and who the killers are. Yes, there are killers, as in plural. The first and second murders quickly reveal A Bay of Blood as not your ordinary run of the mill slasher flick.

Speaking of slasher flicks, Doc identifies several very familiar looking kills and the influence A Bay of Blood must have surely had on Friday the 13th (1980), and hence, other 1980s slasher fare. Bill reveals, not that it was a big secret, that Bava is his favorite director and notes the appearance of for the second episode in a row following her role in Deep Red (1975). Most of the film’s characters have little to like, creating a bit of a hurdle for Chad Lab, but as the innovative kills mount, he quickly gets over it and comes to love the film. Chad Hunt helps the rest of the Grue Crew keep the characters straight and recounts his repeated cries of, “What? … What?! … What?!!” as the killings unfolded. With so many murders from which to choose – hanging, spear, octopus, billhook, etc. – the Grue Crew can’t resist picking each of their favorite kills

Of course, this episode’s Grue Crew gives a unanimous recommendation to this classic giallo film. If you haven’t seen A Bay of Blood, it is guaranteed you will not guess who commits the final murders.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.