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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 2 December 2015
This excellent serving of gothic horror was a real feast. The familiar vampire/witchcraft scenario was expertly crafted and shot by Mario Bava and we are brought back to a world of superstition and brutality in a story set in Moldavia in the 17th century and later into the 19th century.

As Barbara Steele said in a 1995 interview, the first ten minutes are very powerful as the fear is internalized. Princess Asa, a satanist, is condemned to death by her brother, an Inquisitor. She, and her servant, Vivoich are condemned to be burned but before that, they have the Mask of Satan banged on to their faces ; there is a close-up of the mask from the witch's viewpoint as she sees the spikes which will pierce her flesh. The mask fills the whole screen. They were due to be burnt at the stakes but the purifying flames are extinguished by a hard, (Satan's?) rainstorm.This is an important part of the plot's set-up because Asa and Vivoich's remains are extant.

Asa curses her brother and her family down through the generations and swears revenge. Asa is interred in the family chapel, eternally facing the Cross through a glass screen; Vivoich is buried unceremoniously in unconsecrated ground and thus the story unwinds on its own supernatural logic.Two centuries later, Asa's descendants still live in the same gloomy castle and we see that their world has become cold, rotten and ruinous. There is Katya, Asa's direct Christian relative, Constantine, her brother and her father the fearful holder of the principality with a small household consisting of servants like Ivan and young Boris. Near at hand is the village with its Church and the long-bearded Orthodox clergyman.

Two centuries of peace are disrupted on Black Sunday, St.George's Day, when the two vampires are revived accidentally by a travelling Professor who is accompanied by his assistant,Andre. Fascinated by the remains of the old chapel,the professor is bitten by a bat after he finds Asa;'s tomb . He removes the mask of Satan and the blood from his wound revives Asa and from then on Hell breaks loose. Her seduction of professor Grubayan is an excellent piece of theatre - 'Look into my eyes' she says as she promises paradise with Satan. The vengeful Asa calls out 'Rise Vivoich!' which he does in a wonderfully filmed scene- the earth moved literally.

There is much chasing round the castle, fire, secret passages and flaming portraits of Asa and Vivoich and a whole gamut of deaths as the grisly p;air pursue their revenge. Asa wants to take over the spirit of Katia now in love with the handsome Andre. At one time there seem to be two Katias but which one is the vampire? Thus there is tension right up to the end after a gripping ninety minutes packed with atmosphere ; there is use of slow pans and tracking shots as the doomed family try to fight their Fate. The dialogue was sparse as Bava wanted the camera to do the talking and letting Barbara Steele seduce the audience,especially when,during her revival by Grubayan, her breathing bosoms bring an erotic charge to the scene.

This was thoroughly enjoyable horror-film art which was generally understated and therefore worked to power the imagination of the audience.
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on 14 September 2014
I only managed to catch up with this - on tape - a few years ago, and was distinctly impressed. This DVD issue is a feast for the fan (not unlike the BFI 'Phantom Of The Opera'), with plenty of extras.
Apparently based on a story by Gogol, it has a fairy tale quality to it that American and English movies have rarely managed to capture - the young girl watching the coach swirling through woodland, for example. It also has pace and a welcome lack of humour. It also has - need one say it - Barbara Steele. That amazing face! It must be high in the Top Ten post-war list (possibly even at Number One), together with 'City Of The Dead'/'Horror Hotel' and 'Brides Of Dracula'.
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on 29 June 2013
This is the first time I have seen this film as "Black Sunday".Excellent Blu Ray copy,also Italian original,and Mask of Satan copy as can be found in the fabulous Bava collection dvds.In Jamaica,where I was born and raised,Black Sunday exhibited at the Regal in Kingston in 1960,but was banned in England for nine years.I first saw the film at the Academy in Brighton in 1969,under the title of "Revenge of the Vampire"(poster illustrations included in this wonderful Blu Ray collection)in a double bill with "Sting of Death"(try finding that one!!)This was the the first time the film appeared in England.I will allways remember this showing as an old lady stood up in the audience at the end of the film and shouted to the character of Asa,"Burn,you bitch!!"Charming.Excellent BluRay set,and I highly recommend it.Thank you,Amazon!Oh,and let's not forget the marvellous and seldom seen, "I Vampiri",also included in this extraordinary set!!
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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.
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VINE VOICEon 9 July 2013
If you're a fan of classic cinema, or old horror films then this is a must. The Mask Of Satan (or Black Sunday) is Mario Bava's first film and it's an amazing debut. This is gothic horror at it's best, it just looks stunning. On such a tight budget Bava made a film that will stay in the memory long after it's watched. Barbara Steele looks so seductive and yet creepy at the same time and really gives this film that magical/mystical edge. I feel the original Italian version is the best, though the American International edit version will feel more familiar to American horror fans (Vincent price, Roger Corman stuff etc). Whatever version you watch this is just a classic of the horror genre that can still scare to this day.
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on 28 April 2013
top notch horror from mario bava in beautiful black and white,this is a must have for any collector to own,arrow dvd have done a splendid job of giving us both the international and american versionrs of the film,inc the trailers for all versions.the picture quality is as good as it gets with good blacks and contrast,the cover artwork is done the way we collectors like to see this kind of thing done but is slightly let down by the colour strip on the bottom half of the cover with the white background,a minor gripe but rather distracting,it would have looked much better if all the cover had the artwork,all in all arrow are to be congratulated for giving us what collectors really want,a true collectors item,highly recommended.
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on 6 March 2015
Watched this via out Amazon Fire HD box, quite simply a BRILLIANT film, in fact the hubby liked it so much he is considering getting it on Blu-ray of DVD (just been released in restored form on these formats in the UK) if like us you enjoyed this film consider also watching/getting CITY OF THE DEAD aka HORROR HOTEL. Another witchcraft/witch resurrection film starring the great Christopher Lee
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on 16 May 2013
HEre's the best moment in Bava's history. Where he manged to balance a great visual talent with a strong story and good dialogues (far better than in most of his movies, where acting and script have always been the worst sides of his works). This film inspired most of gothic, fantasy and horror directors of the last 50 years. Shot with few money, but with a lot of talent.
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on 27 April 2017
All is well. Great blu-ray.
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on 13 June 2017
very good
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