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Black Sabbath

UPC: 013131330298

Format: DVDColor, NTSC

List price: $19.97
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When American audiences first saw Mario Bava's 1963 horror trilogy, it wasn't the same film he had made in Italy. Finding it too terrifying for kids (imagine that!), AIP pictures trimmed it of violence and intensity, rescored it, and renamed it in order to cash in on the success of Black Sunday. New tongue-in-cheek introductions with costar Boris Karloff were added, the segments were rearranged, and one segment was completely rewritten in the dubbing. It was a good film even in its butchered form, but the original Italian version is excellent. The correctly ordered stories begin with "The Telephone," a gripping, ornate thriller that anticipates Bava's later "giallo" horror classics such as Blood and Black Lace. (In the American version, lesbian overtones were removed and the escaped criminal killer was turned into a vengeful ghost.) Karloff stars as a demonic, wild-haired patriarch in the eerie "The Wurdulak," a gorgeous vampire tale shot on misty, menacing sets. The masterpiece of the collection is "The Drop of Water," a chilling ghost story with shiver inducing imagery: the piercing dead eyes of the restless corpse will haunt you long after the film is over. Bava's original framing sequence ends with a playful tribute to the magic of moviemaking and storytelling, a sweet coda to remind us that it's only a movie. The print suffers slightly from wear and tear and water damage but the colors are sharp and vivid. It's a bit disconcerting to hear Karloff dubbed in Italian, but that's a small price to pay for seeing the film in its original, uncut form. The DVD also features an extensive gallery of production and promotional stills, biographies, and liner notes by Bava historian Tim Lucas. --Sean Axmaker
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Video details

List Price: $19.97
Rating: Unrated
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
Actors: Boris Karloff Michèle Mercier Jacqueline Pierreux Mark Damon 
Size: 7.1000" x 5.4200"
Weight: 0.1800 lbs.
Language: Italian, English