Black Sabbath

black sabbath

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

“The Drop of Water”

In London, England, Nurse Helen Chester (Jacqueline Pierreux) is called to a large house to prepare the corpse of an elderly medium for her burial. As she dresses the body, she notices a sapphire ring on its finger. Chester steals it, accidentally tipping over a glass of water which drips on the floor; she is then assailed by a fly. Chester takes her ring home to her flat and witnesses strange events. The fly returns and continues to pester her, and the lights in her apartment go out as the sound of the dripping water is heard from various locations. Chester finds the woman’s corpse lying in her bed. It rises and floats toward her. Chester begs for forgiveness, but ultimately strangles herself. The next morning, the concierge (Harriet White Medin) discovers Chester’s body and calls the police. The pathologist arrives to examine the body and only finds a small bruise on her left finger where her ring once was. As the doctor announces this observation, the concierge appears distressed and hears the dripping of water.

“The Telephone”

Rosy (Michele Mercier), a French call-girl, returns to her basement apartment at night. She receives a series of strange phone calls. The caller eventually identifies himself as Frank, her former pimp who has recently escaped from prison. Rosy is terrified; it was her testimony that sent Frank to prison. Rosy phones Mary (Lydia Alfonsi) for solace. The women have been estranged, but Rosy is certain that only Mary can help her. Mary agrees to come over that night. Seconds later, Frank calls again, promising that no matter what Rosy does he will have his revenge. Rosy doesn’t realize that Mary is impersonating Frank on the telephone. Mary arrives at Rosy’s apartment and attempts to calm Rosy’s nerves. Mary provides Rosy with a large knife for protection before she goes to sleep.

As Rosy sleeps, Mary writes a confession explaining that she made the calls to force a reunion, knowing that Rosy would call on her for help. While she is writing, an intruder enters the apartment. The intruder is Frank, who strangles Mary. The sound of their struggle awakens Rosy, and Frank realizes he murdered the wrong woman. Frank approaches Rosy’s bed, but she seizes her knife and stabs Frank. Rosy drops the knife and breaks down in hysteria.

“The Wurdalak”

In 19th Century Russia, Vladimir Durfe (Mark Damon) is a young nobleman who finds a beheaded corpse with a knife plunged into its heart. He takes the blade, and finds shelter in a small cottage. Durfe is approached by Giorgio (Glauco Onorato) who explains that the knife belongs to his father, who has not been seen for five days. Giorgio offers a room to Durfe and introduces him to the rest of the family: his wife (Rika Dialina), their young son Ivan, Giorgio’s younger brother Pietro (Massimo Righi), and sister Sdenka (Susy Andersen). They all await the return of Gorca, who has gone to fight the wurdalak, a living cadaver who feeds on human blood, especially of close friends and family members. At midnight, Gorca (Boris Karloff) returns to the cottage with a sour demeanor and unkempt appearance. After the family goes to sleep, Ivan and Pietro are attacked by Gorca who flees the cottage with Ivan. Giorgio chases after Gorca but only returns with Ivan’s corpse. Giorgio plans to stake and behead Ivan to prevent him from reviving as a Wurdalak, but is prevented from doing so by his wife. The two agree to give their son a burial.

That same night, their child appears outside and begs to be invited in. Giorgio is stabbed by his wife while she attempts to let in her son. On opening the door, she is greeted by Gorca who bites her. Vladimir and Sdenka flee from their home and hide in the ruins of a cathedral. As Vladimir sleeps, Sdenka walks outside and finds Gorca and his family surrounding her. Vladimir awakens and searches for Sdenka, finding her lying motionless in her bed at home. Sdenka awakens and upon receiving Vladimir’s embrace, she bites into his neck.

REVIEW:

When you hear the name Black Sabbath, I’m sure the first thing that pops in your head is Ozzy Osborne’s heavy metal group and, to your credit, that isn’t a bad answer. As a matter of fact, that group’s name actually comes from this film. Is that the only legacy it has? Is it worth watching, or am I talking about just another old movie?

What is this about?

In this 1963 trilogy of chilling tales, a beautiful woman’s ex-lover terrorizes her, a father returns home a vampire, and a ghost haunts a nurse.

What did I like?

Makeup. A good performance can make audiences believe anything, but if you throw convincing makeup on an actor or actress, they really get into the character, making things that much more convincing. Such is the case with Boris Karloff in his wurdalak makeup and, even more so, with the corpse in the first story. The look of that woman will forever be etched in my brain. I can just imagine seeing this when it originally came out and how frightened and freaked out those 60s audiences had to have been.

Suspense. The second tale, which is the weakest in my opinion, doesn’t offer any scares, but there is a level of suspense that is there. The audience is captivated by this mystery caller and as the story builds and we learn more and more about him and his relationship with Michele Mercier’s character, the pieces come together forming a suspense-filled tale that was worth the ride.

Wurdalak. What is a wurdalak? Well, it is a vampire that feeds on the blood of those closest to them. In other words, friends, family, loved ones, etc. A while back, I was having a conversation with someone about how vampire stories all have the same basic idea. The vampire rises from the dead so that they can feast on blood. Of all the vampire stories and films that I have seen, the only time this has varied was in a movie where they fed on energy and recently in Female Vampire where the titular character got her sustenance through oral sex. I’m always up for a new twist on vampire lore, as long as it makes sense and the vampires don’t sparkle, and I can’t wait for someone to further explore this wurdalak subgenre, if you will.

What didn’t I like?

Losing steam. The first tale in this anthology stays with you. I’m almost certain that I will see that woman’s face many more times for the rest of my days! Here’s the problem, though, it is the best of the bunch. From there on, the film loses it. The second story is ok and the third just sort of meanders along, not living up to its potential.

Lost in translation. I watched the US version, but apparently the Italian edition is what I need to track down. As always, the US takes out all the good stuff, leaving audiences with a watered down version of the original. In the Italian version, there are elements of prostitution and lesbianism removed, the order of the stories is changed, different colors, different vignettes, trimmed down violence, different score, etc. Why was this done? Much like today, horror here in the states was aimed more at teen audiences, and these changes were to bring them in, theoretically.

Mr. Grinch. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Boris Karloff. He is a Hollywood icon and his legacy is still seen in some films today. However, with every line he spoke i couldn’t help but see the Grinch from the animated Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I couldn’t help it. The man’s voice is now synonymous with that character!

Final verdict on Black Sabbath? I do believe that this is a film that many can enjoy. At least one of the three tales is sure to appeal to whatever your preference is. This is classic 60s horror. Don’t expect blood, guts, naked babes, and foul language, but instead come for real suspense and terror. Do I recommend this? Yes, it is a good watch that you won’t regret giving up 90 minutes for.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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One Response to “Black Sabbath”

  1. horrorparty Says:

    One of my absolute favorites.

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