Monday, January 25, 2010

Black Sabbath

It's that time again. Final Girl's Film Club has risen to kick your ass. This month with Black Sabbath.

I like Mario Bava pretty much across the board, and given the size of that board that’s a pretty big statement. I put him easily above the fun but uneven Fulci, and even the best of Argento. I like Bava when he’s making moody little gothic films or gigantic pop art monstrosities. I like Bava when he’s making horror movies, westerns, crime flicks, sex comedies, sci fi, and yes even when he’s making Viking movies. There’s no time period of Bava’s I don’t care for, hell there’s not even a movie of Bava’s I don’t care for (The possible exception being the influential but overrated Blood And Black Lace).

The point is I’m what you could mildly call pro Bava, and given that Black Sabbath is considered by many to be Bava’s finest (though I’d give the title to the Psychedelic little gothic chiller Kill Baby Kill), not to mention being the film that inspired a certain group of acid worn British Hippies to down tune their guitars and to stop singing about evil and start wailing like demon monks where eating their skin (Meaning that Mario Bava invented both Heavy Metal and The Modern Slasher movie BY ACCIDENT) I can basically watch this movie at anytime.

Black Sabbath is a great little horror movie, it’s only real flaw the fact that Bava puts his weakest segment last (Depending on what cut you watch. I was reviewing Anchor Bay’s version on You Tube) and stilted framing devise that features Boris Karloff first rambling (In its oddest moment the intro ends only to have Karloff reappear and start another not particularly easy to follow tangent.) and then explaining that you’ve just watched a movie.

The first segement, A Drop Of Water is the best, featuring a greedy nurse who is tormented by the spirit of a patient whose corpse she robs. It’s a great minimalist piece of horror cinema. A grisly morality play with an ending that just doesn’t quit. It’s like one of the greatest EC Comics never made.

The second episode is just as strong featuring Boris Karloff at his best as a vampire cursed to dine on his family members. Karloff pulls off one hell of a performance here, investing his creature with as much sorrow and genuine menace as he ever did in the classic Universal days. It’s the kind of swan song that you always hope your old favorite one’s get, fueled not just by nostalgia but by the fact that Karloff, unlike so many others never lost his talent.

Like I said Black Sabbath ends with a whimper rather then a bang. Its not that the last part is BAD exactly, its just not, special. A decent enough psychological giallo with a pretty nice darkly funny ending, but after the last two films it just doesn’t hold up.

Still Black Sabbath is the sort of flick that you can’t help but have a good time with, a dark genuinely malignant horror film that features a couple of masters at their best.


Franco Macabro said...

Nice review, that part about it being like an EC comic made me want to watch it instantly. I need to search this one out already!

Bryce Wilson said...

Thanks FC you should definitely check it out I think you'd dig it.

And its free on Youtube so what can you lose?

Franco Macabro said...

Actually, I got a copy at home right now! Going to watch it tonight, Ill be reviewing it sometime tomorrow.

But I saw the previews for it and they blew me away! I had no idea Bava was so awesome! Im a Bava illiterate, Ive never seen any of his films, Ive always put them off for some reason, but the previews I saw yesterday for Black Sabbath, Black Sunday and Kill Baby Kill all blew me away.

I think I have just discovered a new favorite director. He puts such lush colors on his films...they have a very distintive look to them. Also, they feel so old school horror...and I only got this from watching the previews!

I think Im gonna turn into a Bava nut!

Bryce Wilson said...

Glad to hear it FC! There was this Bava Documentary that IFC put out a few years back. It's a great little Primer on Bava. It's what turned me into a fan.

Shouldn't be too hard to find through semi legal means.

AE said...

I really enjoyed this movie! It was my first Bava and it gave me the heebie-jeebies in a way that few vintage horror films do -- I love them but they rarely get under my skin the way this one did. After "A Drop of Water" I couldn't sleep. Thanks for recommending "Kill Baby ... Kill" -- it's now in my Netflix queue. You might look into the new edition, with "Drop of Water" at the end. It's pretty fun to see Karloff dubbed in Italian (a shame, too, but an entertaining shame). Cheers!