Black Sabbath

Forget Batali. The real Molto Maria is Bava and Black Sabbath sees him in fine, if uneven form.

Depending on which version you see, this anthology starts with The Drop of Water, then segues into The Telephone, and then ends with The Wurdalak. [and please check out our podcast discussion of Black Sabbath]

The strongest of the bunch is The Drop of Water. Set in pre-WWI London, cranky Nurse Helen (Jacqueline Pierreux) is summoned to prepare the body of an old medium for burial. What’s with the Italians and those crazy mediums? (media?) Recall the ominous warnings from the blind soothsayer with the dog in The Beyond? Or, the spiritualist who looks like Margaret Atwood in City of the Living Dead?

As Nurse Helen dresses the body, she spots a sapphire ring on its finger. Chester wrests it from the deceased, accidentally tipping over a glass of water which drips on the floor. The Drop of Water is a master class in sense-awareness. There’s the drip drip of water, the constant flashes of light through an oval window, and of course, the tactility of a gruesome fly which torments the thief from beyond the grave.

****1/2 (out of 5)

In The Telephone, a French call-girl Rosy (Michèle Mercier), returns to her Spartan basement apartment and starts to receive a series of odd phone calls. The caller eventually identifies himself as Frank, her former pimp who escaped from prison but who she believes has been dead for months. Questioning her sanity, a terrified Rosy phones her friend Mary (Lydia Alfonsi) for help.

*** (out of 5)

In The Wurdalak, set in pre-Russian revolution, young nobleman Vladimir (Mark Damon) finds a body by the riverside, a knife plunged into its midsection. He takes the dagger with him, and finds shelter in the owner’s house. He explains that the knife belonged to his father. They await the return of The Gorca (Boris Karloff) who has gone to fight The Wurdalak, a vampiric creature that only feasts on the blood of loved ones.

***1/2 (out of 5)


4 thoughts on “Black Sabbath

  1. This is actually a horror masterpiece and Bava’s greatest film, edging out “Black Sunday.” Not seeing the “uneven” quality you ascribe even with your strongly favorable review. The telephone segment is the least but still suspenseful. “A Drop of Water” may be the scariest film of any duration ever created and “The Wurtelak” based on a famous Russian short story is an eerie, atmospheric tale superbly shot in color with one of Karloff’s most chilling performances.

    A Drop of Water ***** (5/5)
    The Wurdalak ***** (5/5)
    The Telephone **** (4/5)

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I. Love. This. Blog.

    Personally I am a big fan of Bava’s Planet of the Vampires – not his best film, but hugely influential as a sci-fi movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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