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Saturday, May 29, 2010

I TRES VOLTI DELLA PAURA / BLACK SABBATH (1963)


Mario Bava, Italy’s maestro of ‘60s horror, pulls off a hat-trick in this atmospheric tri-parter. (The Anchor Bay DVD edition restores Bava’s preferred Euro-cut.) ‘The Telephone’ is a voyeuristic tale of a young woman besieged by one of her ex-lovers: an escaped psychopathic killer or a recently discarded lesbian? Both? Then Boris Karloff, in one his last good roles, appears in ‘The Wurdalak.’ He’s the patriarch of a family menaced by the titular ‘living dead’ blood-suckers. In fact, he’s just back from dispatching one. Has he also been infected? Last up, and best realized, is ‘A Drop of Water’ about a nurse called one night to prepare a corpse, a medium who died mid-seance. The old dear has a tempting ring on her finger and there’s only a pesky fly in the room to witness this small theft. Fly as avenging angel? Aided by Bava’s outlandish, and outlandishly effective, use of color, the film is less scary than deeply creepy. But it certainly sticks with you. (Watch for a particularly pungent fuchsia backlighting effect in ‘Wurdalak.’) And hold tight for the credits with Karloff returning for a Dada-esque ride into the night.

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