Black Sabbath (I Tre volti della paura) (The Three Faces of Fear) (The Three Faces of Terror) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 9, 2014
Yes this is the film that the famous rock band took their name from after they saw how people enjoyed being frightened. An Italian horror movie with a low budget but an international cast, so a different flavour to the British horror anthologies. This film was also one of the first horror anthologies I do believe, before the likes of Amicus and Hammer got the idea.

The stories are introduced by Boris Karloff who is simply standing in front of a dated psychedelic-esque background and giving a speech about all things creepy basically. The funny thing is he is dressed quite normally in a simple suit and is hammering on about vampires and spectres as if this were a Vincent Price movie. The stories you see aren't really in that classic vein though, these tales are actually much more grounded and genuinely creepy (well two are).

The first short story revolves around a young French call-girl who starts getting terrorised by phone calls from her ex-pimp (spoiler alert). This pimp has just broken out of jail and is threatening her life because she was responsible for putting him away. The young girl calls her female friend around to help and comfort her, little does she know the threatening calls are from her friend who is simply trying to reunite with her. The friend figures this is the only way the young call-girl will allow her back into her life...pretty extreme way of making up isn't it! In the end the real pimp shows up and kills them both just as the friend was writing a note to explain what she has been doing.

This first tale is quite poor I think, its in no way scary or remotely thrilling, especially when you discover the friend is behind it all. The thing is this revelation gave me a better idea, they should of made the pimp the one behind the calls as originally expected. Then in the end when the call-girl discovers this it would have been cool to also find out the pimp was killed in his prison escape attempt so all along the calls were coming from beyond the grave. The fact that the pimp merely turns up and kills both young women is a complete anticlimax, just a basic murder. Its very glossy though, it actually looks like a high production porn flick at times.

Next up is a more kooky traditional tale of ghoulies in the night...well a spin on vampire lore actually. Set in 19th century Russia a young man stumbles across a small family in the wilderness who are battling against a breed of creature known as Wurdalak. These things are undead zombie types that feed on the blood of the living, especially relatives they once knew strangely enough. Karloff plays the father of this family that ventured out to kill a Wurdalak but has returned one himself, naturally the story plays out as a battle of survival for all the living.
Definitely the best looking of the three stories, the sets and props are really sumptuous in this and could easily be part of a full length movie. Great atmosphere with the swirling mist and bleak locations but the actual tale is pretty daft really. Karloff is wonderful as the pale grizzled bearded undead nightstalker but end of the day he's merely playing an unkempt Dracula. Everything goes as you might predict admittedly but thinking back I just can't fault the production values on this one.

The final act sees a woman stealing a fancy ring off another woman who has recently passed away. This sets off all manner of supernatural occurrences such as a mysterious dripping of water, a mysterious fly that won't leave her alone and eventually the dead woman's corpse actually appearing before her. Now this short vignette is the jewel in the crown for this movie, its actually incredibly spooky and very atmospheric with the dripping water echoing around the woman's house. It really does give you the chills...that is until the finale where the corpse appears and really does freak you the fuck out! The dead body has this God awful twisted expression on her face which is enough to keep you up at night I kid you not, that on top of the whole 'Ring-esque' sequence where it moves towards the terrified woman. The final twist in the tale here is again predictable but oh so delicious.

There is no way an American movie in that era would or could pull off something this scary, at the time this was hard core stuff, the Italians were bold and brave. The mix of half naked ladies, the image of call-girls (hookers), blood and the surprisingly scary final story gave this film a real edge rarely seen in British or American horror anthologies. What's more this entire production clearly has so much class, skill and polish, every segment looks great, sounds great and could work as an individual movie in its own right. The first is standard murder fare, the second is standard ghoulish fare and the third is possibly the inspiration for many modern horror movies ('The Ring'!)...but they are all done very stylishly making other examples look crap in comparison.

Its such a shame Bava chose to end the movie by revealing Karloff astride a fake horse and with all the cameras and crew. The main camera pulls back to reveal the studio floor as Karloff finishes his spooky speech. Not too sure why he's in his Wurdalak character get up either. Can't deny its a fun little ending and very interesting to see how they did that effect, but at the same time I can't help but feel they kinda extinguish everything they managed to created and visualise so well prior to that.

Super Reviewer
½ October 14, 2011
Mario Bava's Black Sabbath is a definite horror classic. This horror film is an anthology with three terrific, horrifying stories. Brilliantly directed with a good dose of atmospheric dread for each story, and narrated by legendary horror icon, Boris Karloff; Black Sabbath is an effectively chilling horror anthology and is one of the best horror anthologies that I have seen in quite some time. Black Sabbath has got three stories that will terrify you. Each story is brilliantly acted and leaves you in a state of dread. My personal favorite of the three stories is the third one, "The drop of water"; I thought that was the most chilling of all. A woman is haunted by the vengeful ghost of a dead medium after she steals a sapphire ring from her finger. The moments of that story are chilling and are some of the most terrifying in the horror genre. Mario Bava has made one of the best anthologies with Black Sabbath and this is a must see classic for horror fans. The stories are chilling, and they definitely build up good tension and a feeling of dread in the viewer. This is a terrific horror film and I consider one of the key Italian horror films. This is a well constructed horror film, one that is chilling and memorable. The film is brilliantly acted and directed and the stories are terrifying and original. As far as horror anthologies are concerned, Black Sabbath is by far one of the best that has ever been filmed. If you haven't seen this classic, then you should head to your local video store and rent it, you'll be in for one terrifying night of eerie and bone chilling stories.
Super Reviewer
½ April 14, 2011
Three macabre tales."the telephone".a woman is plagued by threatening calls but all is not what it seems."the wurdaluk".in 18th century Russia a family wait for their father, now a vampire to come home and claim his loved ones and suck their blood."a drop of water". a nurse robs a corpse of a ring and soon regrets it. This film continuously eluded me for many years and i finally managed to see it in it's original form, beautifully restoredand it's worth the wait. the first story is the weakest, although not without interest. the second is the best , very atmospheric and contains a powerful scary performance from Boris Karloff who plays the lead vampire for the only time in his career and this role is one of his best.The last story is short but creepy and features the most scary corpse you'll ever see in a film.This is easily director Mario Bava's best film.only a silly last scene with Karloff dents it a little.
Super Reviewer
½ April 18, 2007
Great almost camp horror movie. Of the 3 stories, "The Drop of Water" is definitely the best because the last 5 minutes of it actually freaked me out. I haven't been that scared in years. The intro and the outro bring down the movie. Boris Karloff comes out like he's Dean Martin or some shit. The last 5 minutes of the last story laid down such frightening imagery and hypnotize you into such a state of fright then we've got this pruny son of a bitch telling me we're going to be friends! It was actually kind of heartbreaking. Still scary with repeated viewings and Jesus, that corpse dummy is scary as all hell. Some of Mario Bava's best work...
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2010
This is an anthology horror movie, some of the stories are good, and some aren't so good, but overall it's a pretty good movie.
Super Reviewer
½ July 21, 2010
I had to wade through two pages of shitty Black Sabbath documentaries to get to this movie. Fuck your neckbeard metal band! Anyway, this movie is great fun. Telephone is bare and effective in its minimalism, The Wurdalak is beautifully shot (though it felt overlong and not all that involving), and A Drop of Water, with the incredibly creepy corpse and a tense depiction of a woman's unraveling sanity, was my favorite. Boris Karloff is delightfully over-the-top in The Wurdalak and a real treat to see, and the ending is really fucking cute. This whole movie is cute, really, and I don't care how strange that makes me sound. It's a creepy, entirely wholesome slice of 1960s Italian horror, without a drop of mean-spiritedness to its name. I really enjoy anthologies; why don't I watch them more often?
Super Reviewer
December 15, 2009
There are very few classic Horror Movies that creep me out and this was hmm..50-50
Super Reviewer
½ January 13, 2009
Old school Gothic horror classic. Mario Bava presents three separate tales of terror, with a little something for everyone. A psychological thriller, a 'Wurdulak' adventure (as near as I can tell, they're a cross between a zombie and a vampire), and a ghost story. Campy, creepy fun.
Super Reviewer
½ October 19, 2009
This is a 3 short film collection (about 30 Min Each) from Mario Bava, and who better to narrate the beginning but Boris Karloff. These having been filmed in the 1960 time frame I can see where a lot of the short story TV Films came from ie Tales of the Crypt just to name one. These 3 are far better and my belief that a number of Directors got ideas from Bava to be successful in America. The first movie the Phone about a Lesbian affair that went bad, and even worst for both as the film went on. The second The Wurdalak stars Boris Karloff (The only one he's in) and Mark Damon, the interview with Mark Damon opened my eyes to someone who slip through the cracks. This is about vampires and a pretty cool film at that. The Last was The Drop of Water, something I would have expected to have been written my Edgar Allen Poe, I can't pick out the best one, all 3 were 4 1/2 star films and some of the Best I've seen to date by Bava.
Super Reviewer
½ November 9, 2007
somewhat campy but still cool italian 'trilogy of terror.' beautiful atmospheric lighting
Super Reviewer
October 10, 2007
A magnificent trio of short horror tales by Mario Bava. Curiously, although it has the highest production values, a strong literary source and a big star, the central Boris Karloff segment, "The Wurdulak", is my least favourite, though it's still excellent and is beautifully shot. "The Telephone" is a perfect little giallo, and the final part, "The Drop of Water", is a very creepy variation on Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart".
Super Reviewer
½ May 5, 2007
Good, not great. Extra marks for Karloff's eyebrows.

Drop of Water is by far the best segment. If you want to see a feature length film on par with it's creepy scale, Check out Roman Polanski's the Tenant
Super Reviewer
½ August 19, 2007
It looks good, it sounds good, and, even if the first story is a little bit weak, it is still the best and most influential horror anthology apart from the "Dead of Night".
You do have to watch the Italian version though to fully appreciate how ground breaking this film was at the time even if Boris Karloff's horse was so obviously fake.
Super Reviewer
October 31, 2012
A horror trilogy containing three stories, two of which are good and one of which is amazing. Watch this if only for the segment titled "A Drop of Water," it's incredibly creepy even after almost fifty years.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ April 30, 2011

Anthology films are not my favorite, but I do enjoy the well-made ones from time-to-time. Even more-so, I enjoy a HORROR anthology, and those don't come along too often. And when they do, sadly, they almost always turn out to be trash. This is because with an anthology film, you need to tell a story even if as a whole, the thing feels uneven. It's damn hard to make a good anthology film; one that makes sense and is worth the viewer's valuable time. But they've done it before, and by golly, they've done it here.

"Black Sabbath" is a delightful, delirious creep-show; a magnificently macabre anthology film kept together by master filmmakers doing what they love to do: make horror films. This film is a winner in a number of ways, and I could tell that from the very beginning. I'm not so sure if it's a genre classic, but I admittedly enjoyed myself quite a bit.

The first story: The Telephone. Well, I guess it wouldn't be doing you no harm to spoil most of the plot for this one. The premise says it all; a woman gets terrorized from a man who will not stop calling her. Speculations that this man is a serial killer? Yes, I guess so. The first part of the film is pretty good, and has some really good moments of tension; almost Hitchcock-like in their whimsy. The ending isn't as incredible as it wants to be, but hey: at least it works.

The second story: The Wurdalak. The first thing you may be wondering about is the name. A "Wurdalack" is some sort of demonic presence within the film, which takes form of a child and then a vampire-like man. The story follows a family who gets paid a visit from a creepy old man who turns out to be a vampire. That night, he runs off and takes the child of the house. The child returns in a rather ghastly state, and what happens from there I will not say, for it is not worth spoiling. Perhaps the best of the three parts, this one does not pull any punches; it is what it is. I can't complain.

The third and final story: The Drop of Water. A woman prepares a corpse for its burial by laying it down on a bed. When she sees a good-looking ring on the corpse's finger, the woman takes it out of greed, and the ghost of this woman, or some ghost (I don't know) comes back to haunt her for her humane greediness. Pretty good, with a nice feeling to it. Better than the first part, not as good as the second.

Atmosphere will never get old; and the best horror films will always rely on it. There are masters of suspense (Hitchcock) and masters of the macabre and all things horrific (Argento). This film was directed by the well-known Italian horror filmmaker Mario Bava, and it is one of his finest pictures. "Black Sabbath", as a whole, is pretty creepy and has a good number of scares. Horror fans should be pleased, and really, anybody else should too. This film does not exactly have limited appeal, but most horror films are made for those with a certain passion for the genre. Here's a movie that will exercise some sort of charm for those who admire good horror, and I'm one of those people who just couldn't resist. This is not a perfect film, nor is it a really great one, but "Black Sabbath" is still thoroughly entertaining and creepy enough to be called a horror film. Unlike many films within the genre, it does not abuse the term.
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2009
Black Sabbath is a good one visually stylish flick, courtesy of one of Italy's finest; Mario Bava. It presents three terrific tales of terror:

"The Drop of Water" very atmospheric from start to finish. 3/5

"The Telephone," the weakest of the three tales. 2.5/5

"The Wurdelak" I personally found it to be the best of the three. It has some very chilling and atmospheric sections. 4/5

3+2.5+4/3=3.16= 3 stars

Worth a check!!!
July 30, 2013
One of a sort of subgenre of horror anthology films that was popular for a while back when I was a teenager. This one was written and directed by Italian genre great Mario Bava. The first segment "A Drop of Water" is based on a short story by Chekov and the third, "The Wurdalak," on a story by Tolstoy. The middle entry, "The Telephone" was apparently based on a story by a less famous writer, someone named F. G. Snyder. All three are good stories and pretty well acted but it is the last, "The Wurdalak", with a typically fine performance by Boris Karloff that is the most outstanding part of this movie. The sets are quite good and the art design generally is up to the usually high standard of a film by Bava. Some of the makeup is a bit over the top and less effective than it would be today but not especially poor for 1963. A good solid horror movie that is a near classic. At least worth three stars, maybe four.
½ August 4, 2012
Like other anthology stories this one has a weak link that casts a weaker shadow. For me it was the vampire segment with Karloff.
July 28, 2011
Gothic imagery and ice cold atmosphere characterizes Mario Bava's horror anthology that not only influenced Italian horror for decades to come, but also gave its name to a band that would pioneer an entire new genre of dark music. After the derivative and Hitchcock styled "The Telephone," the gothic vampire themed "Wurdulak" features a sinister Boris Karloff in the twilight of his career. The grand sets and wind-filled soundtrack make this a perfect movie for Halloween night. The "Wurdulak" is undeniably the centerpiece of this film, but the third segment is a close second. Poe's The Telltale Heart is modified in "The Drop of Water" which featuures some of the most ghoulish corpse makeup to ever grace the screen. The closing momrents of this segment are just plain chilling. Bava's mastery of mood and pure creepiness is at its absolute peak in this film - it's spooky as hell. Fans of horror anthologies should have this towards the top in their collection because, despite a lackluster 1st segment, Black Sabbath is a solid old school horror and showcases the very finest moments of Mario Bava.
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