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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

La Maschera Del Demonio (aka Black Sunday) (1960)

In 1630, a beautiful princess (Barbara Steele) is tortured and burned at the stake under orders from her brother but not before she places a curse on all her brother's descendants. 200 years later, she returns to carry out her threat. Based on the short story VIY by Nikolai Gogol, this was Mario Bava's "official" film debut as a director. A noted cinematographer, he had often helped direct several films on which he worked on. For 1960, this was quite a gruesome film, so much so that it was banned in Great Britain for 8 years. It's an evocative and stylish piece of Gothic horror pulp that was influential enough to be copied several times over but Bava's imitators have never matched his luxurious eye. The American version has been cut by 2 to 3 minutes and rescored by Les Baxter (Roberto Nicolosi scored the Italian version). This was the exotic Steele's first horror film and she quickly became known as the scream queen, at least until Jamie Lee Curtis came along to challenge her title. With John Richardson, Andrea Checchi and Enrico Olivieri. 

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