Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath: A highly influential, spooky anthology film


Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath — an anthology horror film with 3 tales, a truly memorable face and a lasting impact.

What’s my favorite story from Black Sabbath, Mario Bava’s 1963 horror anthology? Could it be “The Telephone,” about a French prostitute (Michèle Mercier) receiving terrifying phone calls from a former pimp? Well, it’s a halfway decent story, but it somehow lacks in presence for me.

So how about “The Wurdalak,” starring horror icon Boris Karloff himself? This tale deals with a vampiric creature called the Wurdalak, who returns to attack those it loved while alive! It’s an interesting story and no doubt memorable in its own right. However, the most memorable story from Black Sabbath for me has to be “The Drop of Water,” a simple story of a nurse (Jacqueline Pierreux) who steals a ring from a corpse and is haunted by her as a result.

The Drop of Water

The Drop of Water” may be a straightforward story, but it has a consistently creepy mood.  Psychologically gripping, a lot of the story is told through the fixed, horrifying facial expression on a corpse-ghost. It is, without a doubt, one of the creepiest horror faces I’ve ever seen, and definitely the biggest highlight of Black Sabbath for me. In fact, I struggle to really focus on any other aspect of this story (or even the whole movies) outside of that face.

Final thoughts on the film itself

Aside from any single piece, what works about Black Sabbath is how each story is told adequately and individually remain distinct from each other. Boris Karloff does a great job as a “host,” of sorts and the very end sequence (right before the credits) had me laughing a bit. It’s a nice little slice of humor in a movie that benefited from it. Ultimately, this seems like a solid introduction to Italian horror films, provided someone’s into old school horror and all that comes with it. Modern audiences might not appreciate the more casual, restrained pacing of Black Sabbath, but it still has enough creepiness to reel a number of people in and deserves respect for its influence.

Next. Bad Fan: Seeing Dario Argento’s ‘Inferno’ without having seen ‘Suspiria’. dark

The metal band Black Sabbath was simply known as “Earth” before seeing this movie. In other words, the world of metal wouldn’t be the same without Mario Bava and Boris Karloff! So, if nothing else, metal heads owe a debt of gratitude to this flick. In fact, it’s arguable that part of the band Black Sabbath’s success was their name. At the time it had sort of an austere and dark atmosphere to it, which definitely matched their heavier sound and lyrical themes.

What are your thoughts on Black Sabbath? Let us know in the comments, ya’ creeps!