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Film: Black Sunday

1960 Italian horror classic directed by Mario Bava. It was his first film where he received actual credit for his work. It was an adaptation of the short story Viy by Nikolai Gogol. The movie's style, cinematography and story harkens back to older Gothic Horror films of the 1930s. Black Sunday itself would go on to influence later films such as Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow and Bram Stoker's Dracula.

In 1640, the Moldavian Princess Asa Vajda is captured and executed by her brother for practicing witchcraft and being a vampire. As she is about to die, she curses the descendents of her brother. Two hundred years later, Dr. Kruvajan and his assistant Dr. Gorobec, travel through Moldavia. After their carriage breaks down the two stumble across the tomb of Asa, whose corpse wears a metal mask and coffin is guarded by a cross. Kruvajan is attacked by a monstrous bat and kills it. However, he accidentally breaks the cross, cuts his hand and drip some blood on the body. Asa is resurrected because of the blood and begins to wreck havoc upon Moldavia and her brother's descendants.

Not to be confused with another movie about...a blimp.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Princess Asa and Prince Javuto are servants of the Devil. Their brother, the inquisitor, isn't so nice either.
  • Back from the Dead: Asa and Javuto are killed by a mob at the start of the story. Due to her dark magic, Asa is able to bring them back to life many years later.
  • Bowdlerise: The American International Pictures release of the film, which cut down on some of the gore in the film, as well as turning Javuto into the servant of Asa, removing the incest angle. The original title 'The Mask of Satan' was also removed.
  • Black Magic: Asa is a sorceress. She plans to drain the life force of her distant grand-niece Katia with her powers and possess her body.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Asa and her servant Javuto are brother and sister in the original Italian version with the incestuous subtext being played up.
  • Burn the Witch!: The mob at the start burn Asa as well as putting a spiked mask on her face.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The film has a great deal of scenery porn and elaborate sets.
  • Dying Curse: Asa curses her brother and his descendants as she is being burned by the mob.
    'I place a curse upon you!'
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The Vajdas' dogs are alarmed when Asa has come back to life.
  • Evil Minions: Javuto is Asa's servant and helps her carry out her plans.
  • Eye Scream: The metal mask put on Asa has spikes on the inside. Her eyes are gouged out and bleed profusely from the eye hole. Later, when the mask is removed from her body, her eyes have rotten out and bugs are crawling out of the sockets.
    • Later on, Kruvajan's corpse is staked through the eye so that his soul may rest in peace.
  • Fainting: Katia has a dramatic faint upon the discovery that her father was killed by a vampire.
  • Hot Witch: Asa, who uses her beauty to try and lure in unsuspecting mortals to be her servant.
    'Embrace me. I can bring you pleasures mortals cannot know!'
  • Hypnotic Eyes: One of Asa's abilities is controlling humans with her eyes.
    'Look into my eyes!'
  • Identical Grandson: Katia and (100 years prior to her) Pasha, who both look exactly like Asa.
  • Life Drinker: Asa wants to maintain her life by draining that of Katia's.
  • Ominous Fog: A fog immediately rolls in when Asa's servant Javuto comes for Dr. Kruvajan.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Asa does not have fangs, drains lifeforce as well as/instead of blood, and is also skilled in black magic.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Javuto seems to be a type of revenant zombie-vampire, obeying Asa's commands and shambling about. He is actually more similar to folkloric vampires than the classic incarnations of cinema and literature.
  • Rapid Aging: Katia when Asa attempts to drain and possess her. When Katia survives and Asa is in turn killed, this fate befalls her instead.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The film itself is black and white and does not show Asa having red eyes. Posters for the film (see above) do apply this trope, however.
  • Scenery Porn: The film focuses heavily on the creepy, Moldavian landscape.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Asa is kept in her grave with a metal mask nailed onto her face, and a crucifix seen by her through a window in her coffin.
  • Spooky Painting: The portraits of Asa and Javuto, which seem to be alive.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The mob uses this standard equipment when confronting and killing Asa.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Barbara Steele is British, yet in this film's English dub, an American actress dubbed her voice. A variety of American actresses dubbed her voice in English in other Italian films she made. This is due to Italy's dubbing unions not letting her dub herself.
  • Wicked Witch: Asa, who, though pretty, does sure her enemies and uses her powers for various, evil purposes.


The Black ScorpionHorror FilmsBlack Water
Bells Are RingingFilms of the 1960sBreathless
VampirellaVampire FictionBlacula
Beyond the Valley of the DollsDanny Peary Cult Movies ListThe Brood
The Hills Have Eyes 100 Scariest Movie MomentsDawn of the Dead

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