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Great Scenes – BLACK SUNDAY

Ahh… the darkness is upon us and it’s time to revel in all things macabre. ’tis the season for Mario Bava, champion of the grand guignol, a man who invented the slasher (i.e. the cinematic giallo) and brought a theatricality to genre filmmaking that was at once both intimate and epic. Feast your eyes on this fantastic opening scene from one of his finest films – Black Sunday (1960) aka Mask of Satan. Barbara Steele was made an instant star as the evil witch in one of the true must-see-films of any self-respecting cinephile’s genre education. There’s nothing quite like this movie, with it’s bombastic narration, heavy use of ADR voiceover over non-English speakers, and spare yet effective sound design. Everything here is over the top: the dialogue: “and as your brother I repudiate you!” The glorious black and white cinematography, shadows dancing over spikes and a set-bound magical world filled with fake trees and endless mist. I especially love the shot in which the black hooded executioner carries the spiked mask directly out into the audience – implicating us in the impending violence… and I even more especially love the blood which spurts forth when the mallet goes THWACK! Deliciousness! Happy Halloween everyone!

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