8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2013
Any fan of this seminal horror classic will simply have to own the double-version blu-ray package offered here. Both THE MASK OF SATAN and BLACK SUNDAY look just fine in widescreen HD, and this is the first time fans have been treated to AIP's cut on home video in 1.85 35mm (the old laserdisc offered a standard 16). Extras are fine, prepared by Bava expert Tim Lucas, and the overall package is most appealing. Highly recommended!
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2013
After the slight debacle of the Arrow release of Zombie Flesh Eaters (which was missing a six second shot of a boat in a harbour directly after the opening credits) I was hoping that Arrow would bounce back with this release with no such mishaps.
I'm delighted to report that this release has surpassed my wildest dreams in terms of quality.
I bought the slipcased version direct from Arrow's internet site and it arrived very quickly (within 3 days).
With it's four different sleeves and superb booklet this was almost a winner before I had slipped the disc (one of three in the package) into the Blu Ray player.
What won me over initially was that American version ("Black Sunday") is included as well as "I Vampiri". Add to that Bava's original vision in the form of "The Mask Of Satan" and you really do have the most complete and best package of this film available anywhere in the World.
The picture quality is truly outstanding. I have seen this film in it's various guises at least 20 times and this is the best it's ever looked.
Arrow may have made mistakes in the past with it's pressings of "The Beyond" (now corrected) and ZFE but I'm happy to say that this is one of the best genre discs ever released by any company in the World that I have seen.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2008
This 1960 film by the great Italian horror director Mario Bava stands out as a dark jewel of supernatural terror and also generated a distinct sub-genre with films such as the wondrous 'Horror Hotel/City of the Dead' and 'Witchcraft' following in its wake: Mario Bava was a lover of 19th century Russian literature and here we have his unique adaptation of a story by Gogol, a ravishing tale of vampirism, satanic evil and undead witches in the mist-wrapped environs of old Moldavia. Where this film really wins is in its evocation of a wonderfully crepuscular atmosphere of gothic romanticism and what the poet Shelley called 'the tempestuous loveliness of terror', embodied to perfection in the sinister beauty of Princess Asa, played brilliantly by Barbara Steele. We are taken from the pyres of the 17th century presided over by hooded inquisitors to coach-rides through silhouetted forests of clawing branches, flickering with shadows and wraith-like coils of mist-vapour, ruinous tombs and dark castle chambers, howling dogs, tolling bells, orthodox icons and bearded priests despatching the infernal ones by piercing the left eye. A delicious feast of horrors, swathed in twilight, for the connoisseur of the cinematic supernatural. A film to be relished again and again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
NB: As is their wont, Amazon have unhelpfully bundled the reviews for various different releases and formats of this title together. This review refers to Anchor Bay's US Region 1 NTSC DVD.
Mario Bava's breakthrough film Black Sunday aka The Mask of Satan has not dated as well as might be hoped, I'm afraid. Photographically it's sporadically interesting, with some good in-camera make-up effects achieved through lighting changes and a clever use of long lenses to make his cramped sets look much larger than they are, but his story of an accidentally revived witch and her lover taking her revenge on her descendants (inspired by a story by Gogol, no less) tends to take its time and offers few surprises now the novelty of the slightly-stronger-than-the-norm for the era gore has worn off. Not bad, just very familiar even if you haven't seen it before.
Anchor Bay's Region 1 NTSC DVD includes the original Italian 'international version' rather than the US version, with audio commentary by Tim Lucas, stills and poster gallery, US TV spot, US trailer and international trailer, as well as trailersfor Bava films Black Sabbath, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Kill, Baby... Kill! and Knives of the Avenger.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2007
Although dubbed (or with English subtitles) and in black and white this film is traditional gothic-horror at its best.
Visually its very impressive (lots of shadows, large creepy sets, e.t.c) yet surprisingly very little blood or gore with the emphasis on building the suspense and the story.
The theme of this film is a family curse, a witch returning from the grave to take possession of the descendent of her enemy and love lasting beyond the grave. It begins quite dramatically with a mob of angry peasants nailing a demonic mask onto a rather voluptuous witch before burning her and her boyfriend at the stake and it builds up from there so much that you don't want to take your eyes off the screen !
Anyone who like old Hammer films and the Poe Vincent Price films would love this and I can't recommend it enough !!
AND this is now available in a box set (cheaper !) which includes another classic (Black Sabbath) which are all films of the same Italian director.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Vampires, witches, gothic castles, crumbling crypts and the odd dead body. If this movie had werewolves, it would be the perfect Halloween movie. But even without lycanthropes, "Black Sunday" is a brilliant little chunk of gothic horror. Mario Bava's solo directorial debut is rich in atmosphere and beautifully filmed, and it has plenty of very-graphic-for-1960 violence that is genuinely disturbing. The only problem is that the English language dub is... AWFUL.
In the 1600s, the Inquisition condemned the evil witch Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele) and her brother/lover Javuto (Arturo Dominici). They were both executed with iron devil masks nailed into their faces, but not before Asa curses her brother (the grand Inquisitor) and vows to return. Two hundred years later, a carriage breaks down outside her crypt, and Dr. Thomas Kruvajan (Andrea Checchi) and Dr. Andre Gorobec (John Richardson) wander in. Wouldn't you know, Kruvajan accidentally cuts his finger and the drop of blood revives Asa's corpse.
And fortunately for her revenge scheme, her brother's descendants still live nearby. Before long, she has sicced the undead Javuto on the family of the fearful Prince Vajda (Ivo Garrani), particularly his daughter Katia (Steele again). Oh, and shes turned Kruvajan into her vampire slave. Gorobec must join forces with the local priest to stop the witch and her minions before she can use Katia's blood to fully resurrect herself.
"Black Sunday" is absolutely soaked in gothic atmosphere -- black leafless trees, vast shadowy castles, ruined cobwebbed crypts with eyeless corpses, and a perpetually stormy night. Mario Bava takes full advantage of this, crafting beautifully eerie scenes with his use of light and shadow. The film is like a string of beautifully horrifying tableaus, like illustrations from a gothic novel. Just looking at it is an experience.
It's also pretty disturbing. Granted, the gore isn't much compared to the "Saws" and "Hostels" of current horror cinema, but they're still pretty disturbing (burnings, eye-stakings and iron masks hammered into faces). And there's a vampiric element in this story, but Bava doesn't overplay it with cheesy fangs or other cliches -- it feels more like Eastern European folklore than Hollywood, where vampirism was both subtler and more alien.
But there is one big problem: the dialogue tends to be cheesy and clunky, especially during big dramatic scenes ("You too can find the joy and happiness of hating!" -- which was apparently a bowdlerized version of the original line).
This was actress Barbara Steele's breakthrough role, and she's quite good (if a bit hammy) in the dual role of the innocent Katia and the malevolent Asa; certainly she has plenty of stage presence. The other actors do good (if a bit hammy) jobs as well, particularly Dominici's silent blank-faced menace, Enrico Oliveiri, and Andrea Checchi as an inquisitive man of science.
"Black Sunday" is the ideal Halloween movie for people who are tired of the same ol' Hollywood horror -- an eerie movie about witches, curses and vampires.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2013
The Blu-ray transfer appears to be identical with the one in the US from Kino. It is quite good overall, but not an improvement over the old US DVD transfer from many years ago.
However, the Arrow Films set is valuable because it has the US cut as well, with two different English language audio tracks. There are reports that the current MGM managers have little interest in their old movies, so this release from Arrow may be the only way to view the US cut on DVD or Blu-ray.
There is also an interview with star Barbara Steele, which shockingly wasn't included on the US Kino Blu-ray. Arrow almost always goes the extra mile regarding their supplemental features.
on 3 August 2015
There are quite some versions of Bava's masterpiece in circulation. So one should point out clearly to what edition he or she refers. In addition to the 3-disc Arrow version I own the German DVD "Die Stunde wenn Dracula kommt" and the Italian 2-disc edition from Ripley's. This review contains some objections I like to raise against the Arrow version. I refer to the original "Maschera del Demonio" or "Mask of Satan"-cut. For me the Italian soundtrack is the one to go for. First objection: the Arrow disc does not contain the original Italian credit sequence (unlike the Italian or the German disc). Second objection: occasionally the Italian soundtrack is slightly out of synch (watch the scene when Katia's father strikes a key on the piano or when Kruvajan lights a match). This doesn't occur on the Italian or the German disc. Third objection: the deleted scene with Katia and her father in the park is inserted in both the Italian and the German versions. There is a bonus feature on the Arrow disc that explains the omission, but in my opinion not entirely satisfying. The German disc has German subtitles. The Italian disc states that there are English subtitles but though there is a free subtitle track I haven't been able to activate it. I don't regret having bought the Arrow disc. Concerning the picture quality its version of "I Vampiri" is better than the one on the Image DVD. But I have to keep the Italian (for the docu "Mario Bava Maestro of the Macabre") and the German discs.
on 24 April 2013
In my opinion The mask of Satan (European version) ever so slightly surpasses the AIP Black Sunday version if only because I feel that the Les Baxter score on Black Sunday is a bit too over the top in a typical AIP way. It is I re-iterate only my opinion and sometimes less is more as is the case with the original score. Having watched both versions, and I have yet to see the original Italian language version there really isn't that much in it really, different editing, dubbing and the AIP version is cut and shortens some of the more gruesome scenes (even though it is tame by todays standards). Whichever version you prefer however offers great b/w gothic tale. It never really decides if it wants to be about vampires or witches and blurs the two ideas but the imagery portrayed is fantastic if you like eery forests and castles, crypts and coffins. Its part Hammer, part Universal monsters with a European flavour so if you enjoyed either then I highly recommend Mask of Satan/Black Sunday. It also offers the Italian "I Vampiri" (The vampires) which Bava worked on and completed as cameraman. Overall very good film, does lose its way sometimes but generally deserves its reputation as an old skool classic.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 February 2013
I don't see how the reissue of a much-loved classic can get much better than this. The film itself looks beautiful, restored but not over-digitised, with a nice amount of grain. The wealth of viewing options is as thorough as you're likely to get. I've revisited this film many times over the decades, and the version presented here is the most intact I've seen. I don't usually bother with commentaries, but will always make an exception for Video Watchdog's Tim Lucas. All this and a copy of I Vampiri thrown in as an extra. I see Arrow are soon releasing my all-time favourite Bava, I Tre Volte Della Paura, I can't wait! Well done Arrow, and can we please also have 'Four Times That Night', 'Diabolik' and 'Planet of the Vampires'.