Italian Horror Cinema Month kicks off with 'BLACK SABBATH'

by Joey Paur

This month will be Italian Horror Cinema month at GeekTyrnat. It being the month of October and one of my favorite holidays of the year; Halloween, I have decided to focus on a specific horror movie genre that not many people have much knowledge about. Some of the best horror films have come out of Italy! Throughout the month I am going to make some suggestions for you all. Some you may have heard of some you may have not. A lot of these movies have gone on to inspire the horror movies that have been made in the U.S. This month I will mostly focus on directors Mario Bava and Dario Argento. Most people know about Argento but they may not have heard of Mario Bava who played a huge role in shaping Italian horror cinema.

BLACK SABBATH - Directed By Mario Bava will be our first horror film

Black Sabbath is a great creepy horror film directed by Mario Bava in 1963 and consists of 3 movies within the one feature. This is one of those movies that has inspired everything we see in horror movies today. If you love horror movies like I do, this movie will be a great deal of fun. The three films of Black Sabbath are: ‘The Telephone', ‘The Wurdalak', and ‘The Drop of Water'.

You have to remember that this is an Italian Horror film with subtitles, bad sound sync, and very tame compared to today's standards, but for it's time it was the shit, and I think it still is. The effects were not as great as they are today either, but still very effective and very creepy.

The movie starts out with a fun introduction by Boris Karloff and move into it first feature.

'The Telephone' is about an attractive call-girl by the name of Rosy played by Michelle Mercier. After a night out on the town, she returns to her apartment and starts getting these series of strange phone calls. A man threatening to kill her, telling her that by dawn she will be dead. It is later revealed that the man calling her is her ex-pimp Frank, who she testified against and put him in prison. He escaped and wants revenge. Rosy ends up calling her ex lesbian lover to come over and hang out so she has someone around to keep her company. Mary agrees to come over. Seconds later, Frank calls again, promising that no matter who she calls for protection, he will have his revenge. Unknown to Rosy, Mary is the caller impersonating Frank. Mary arrives at Rosy's apartment right after, and does what she can to calm Rosy's nerves. By giving her a tranquilizer that puts her to sleep. I guess that's how they did it back in the day.

Later that night as Rosy sleeps, Mary writes a note of confession that she was the one making the strange phone calls when she learned of Frank's escape from prison. Knowing that Rosy would call on her for help, she explains that she felt it was her way of coming back into her life after they broke up. As she is writing, she fails to notice an intruder in the apartment. Its Frank. He creeps up behind Mary with one of Rosy's nylon stockings and strangles her to death. The sound of the struggle wakes up Rosy and she freaks out. The murderous pimp Frank realizes that he just killed the wrong woman, and slowly makes his way to Rosy's bed. However, earlier that night, Rosy had placed a butcher knife under her pillow at Marys suggestion. Rosy grabs the knife and stabs Frank with it as he's beginning to strangle her. Rosy drops the knife and breaks down in hysteria, surrounded by the two corpses of her former lovers.
This movie is a classic and here it is in its infancy.

This was one of the first films to tell the story of the dreaded and scary ‘phone call'. Now we have movie like ‘One Missed Call' that are taking this same story and running with it.

'The Wurdalak' takes place in 19th century Russia. Vladimir Durfe is a young man on a long trip. While he is traveling, he comes across a headless corpse with a knife plunged into its heart. So what does he do he pulls out blade and takes it as a souvenir.

Later that night, Vladimir stops at a small cottage and asks for shelter. As he is looking around he notices several daggers hanging up on one of the walls, and a empty space that happens to fit the knife he pulled out of the corpse earlier . Vladimir later learns that the knife belongs to the father of the household, who has not been seen for five days. Giorgio one of the family members offers a room to the young man, and introduces him to the rest of the family which includes his wife and their young son Ivan, Giorgio's younger brother Pietro, and sister Sdenka. It seems that they are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their father, Gorcha, as well as the reason for his absence: he had left to hunt down an outlaw and dreaded wurdalak Ali Beg. Vladimir is confused by the term, and Sdenka explains that a wurdalak is a walking Zombie who feeds on the blood of the living, preferably close friends and family members. Giorgio and Pietro are certain that the corpse Vladimir had discovered is that of Ali Beg, but also realize that there the possibility that their father has been infected by the blood curse too. They warn Vladimir to leave, but he decides to stay and await for their fathers return, because he took a liking to one of the women in the cottage.

At the stroke of midnight, Gorcha (Boris Karloff) comes home with dark demeanor and unkempt appearance. The two brothers are torn, they realize that it is their duty to kill Gorcha before he feeds on the family, but their love for him makes it difficult to reach a decision. Later that night, both Ivan the little boy and Pietro are attacked by Gorcha who drains them of blood, and then runs. Giorgio stakes and beheads Pietro to prevent him from reviving as a wurdalak. But he is prevented from doing so to Ivan when his wife threatens to commit suicide. Reluntantly, he agrees to bury the child. That night, the child rises from his grave and begs to be invited into the cottage. The mother runs to her son's aid, stabbing her husband Giorgio when he attempts to stop her. When she opens the door she greeted by Gorcha. The old man bites and infects his daughter-in-law, who then does the same for her husband. Lovebirds Vladimir and Sdenka flee from the cottage and go on the run and hide out in the ruins of an abandoned cathedral as dawn breaks. Vladimir is optimistic that a long and happy life lies with them. But Sdenka believes that she is meant to stay with the family.

Sdenka's fears about her family are confirmed when that evening, Gorcha and her siblings show up at the abandoned cathedral. As Vladimir sleeps, Sdenka is lured into their loving arms where they bite her to death. Awakened by her screams, Vladimir rushes to her aid, but the family has already taken her home, forcing the lover to follow them. The young man finds her, lying motionless on her bed. Sdenka awakens, and a distinct change in her face. Vladimir embraces her, knowing what is going to happen and she bites and infects him and turns him into a Wurdalak as well, so they live happily ever after.

Boris Karloff was amazing in this film and it is probably one of his best performances ever. He puts out a very scary and haunting performance.

'The Drop of Water' takes place In Victorian London, England, Nurse Helen Chester is called to a large house to prepare the corpse of an creepy ass elderly phychic for her burial. As she dresses the body, she notices an elaborate ring on its finger. Tempted by greed, Nurse Chester steals it. As she does, a glass tips over, and drops of water begin to splash on the floor. She is also sees a fly land on the finger right where the ring had been. Unsettled but pleased by her acquisition, she finishes the job and returns home to her small flat.
After returning home, Nurse Chester is haunted by strange events. The buzzing fly returns and continues to bother her. Then the lights in her apartment go out, and the sounds of the dripping water continues with maddening regularity. She sees the old woman's corpse lying on her bed, and coming towards her. The terrified woman begs for forgiveness, but she ultimately strangles herself, imagining that the physics hands are gripping her throat.

The next morning, the concierge discovers Nurse Chester's body and calls the police. The investigator on the scene quickly concludes that its a simple case and that Nurse Chester "died of fright". The pathologist arrives on the scene to examine the body before it's taken away and notes that the only sign of violence is a small bruise on her left finger, mostly likely caused when someone pried a ring from her finger. As the doctor makes this observation, the concierge appears distressed, as she has apparently took the ring from the dead Nurse Chester, and is further distracted by the sound of a fly swooping about in the air.....

This was a great little film. They way the story is told is so creepy. The look that it has is great. The way the dead phychic woman is portrayed is great! You know it is totally fake but damn, that look could give a person nightmares.

Black Sabbath is a great movie that if you have not seen it is a must watch film for any horror movie buff.

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