A vengeful witch returns from the dead to seek revenge
and possess the body of her look-alike descendant.
Black Sunday (1960)
Directed by Mario Bava
Written by Ennio De Concini and Mario Serandrei
Starring Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi,
Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominci, Enrico Olivieri,
Antonio Pierfederici, Tino Bianchi
Based on the short story “Viy” by Nikolai Gogol
Black Sunday is the feature debut of both star Barbara Steele and director Mario Bava. The film was released at a time when American theaters had no issues showing foreign films, so long as they were dubbed by American actors. Upon its release, it became a massive success, launching the careers of its star and director. Steele would go on to star in several horror films through the ensuing decades, while Bava would continue to direct several other classic horror films. Black Sunday has become a genre classic that helped define Italian horror films for years to come.
Bava has created a film that is a masterclass in horror cinema. The film has some of the best atmosphere since the Universal horror films of the 30's and 40's. Something that you can tell is a huge influence on this particular movie. Everything from the Gothic setting to the performances is nothing short of amazing. Barbara Steele is magnificent in the dual role of Princess Asa Vajda and her descendant Katia Vajda. Black Sunday is her breakthrough performance and you can see why she became the horror icon she is today. She flawlessly portrays both characters; the former a vicious vampire, the other an innocent woman.
While some might be thrown off by the dubbed voices, most will be able to get over it and see the brilliance in this film. Black Sunday is a horror classic that launched several successful careers and defined an entire generation of horror cinema. If you’re a fan of horror movies, you owe it to yourself to watch this gem of a movie.