Final Girl Film Club: I Prefer Early Sabbath

Ha ha, I made a joke about the metal band, but I am talking about a movie of the same title.  Ha ha…yeah.. shut up.

Anyways, again, the Final Girl film club goes like this:
Stacie Ponder, aka The Final Girl, picks a movie and then we all write about it.  This time around is the 1963 Mario Bava Classic Black Sabbath.

Geez…stupid, stupid… I already told you I liked it…so how can I provide a twist, how can I convince you to read on?!  I KNOW!  What IF…and I am only saying “if”… in bold text… what IF I actually hated it?  Read on…

I’ve mentioned that Horror Anthologies are hit or miss.  What I really mean is that rarely are they good.  Often, they feel more like “we have a bunch of ideas, and none of them will fill a whole movie… lets take a bunch shorter stories and string them together.”

Black Sabbath understands that you can’t have just any group of stories.  You need to pick interesting ones.  Admittedly, the film starts off with my least favorite of the three.  A beautiful woman named Rosey (Michele Mercier) keeps getting calls, but when she picks up the phone nobody answers.  Finally an eerie voice speaks up, declaring that she is simply to beautiful.  He suggests he may be watching her, noting he is unhappy she put on her robe.  But is he really watching her?  And if so… from where.  There is some nice tension, specifically when she tries to make sure she cannot be seen, even covering keyholes in doors.  Every sound she hears might be the twisted admirer.  He makes an explicit statement of intent, which causes Rosey to lose control of her fear.

She makes a call to her friend Mary who makes references to not holding grudges, but ultimately consents to come over.  But here is where we get a twist, is the person outside of her house the person we believe it to be?  Or is it someone else?  For the first time, we see the person on the other end of the phone.  Mary arrives and after speaking for awhile gives Rosey a tranquilizer to help her relax.

The story takes another twist, but to say any more spoils the story.  The next tale is called the The Wurdalak.  A Count (Mark Damon) is travelling.  comes upon a small village in the mountains that is apparently under siege from a malevolent force.  The claim it is a Wurdalak.  They even suggest a body the count finds is one.

The count becomes smitten with a young woman (Susy Anderson) who explains further that the Wurdalak is an undead creature that desires the blood of it’s living relatives.  The villagers are relieved to see Gorca (Boris Karloff) returning from a five day stint in the mountains.  Yet, they also are afraid.  He seems… different.  Gorca takes credit for the body the Count found.  Oddly, upon his return, a wolf begins howling continuously.  This grows to agitate Gorca.  Gorca takes his grandson and sits by the fire, suddenly, a shot rings out and the wolf stops howling.

In the middle of the night, Gorca steals away with his grandson.  They discover  a young man who was in the house, Pietro is dead, bite marks on his neck.  The boy’s father take pursuit.  Sadly, they recover their son’s now lifeless body.  But in these stories, death is not the end… Ivan calls to his mother from the woods, begging for her to come and let him in.  Overcome with grief, she commit a terrible act before running to let her son in.

The count and Sdenka (Anderson) hide in the ruins of a convent, convinced they are far enough away to be safe.  But the viewer knows that is never really the case.  The landscapes in this segment are breathtaking and the sets a wonderfully haunted.  It’s a take on folk vampire lore that is very well done, and is my second favorite story.

My favorite story is A Drop Of Water.  It’s just terrific.  Nurse Helen Chester (Jacqueline Pierreux) is home late one evening when she gets a call from the maid (Milly Monty) of a patient, emphatic that she come over.  Once Helen arrives, she discovers the patient is dead.  And she looks frightening.  I still get the willies.  According to the maid, the woman was a witch, and people believe she was killed by the spirits of the dead.

Helen steals a ring from the finger of the dead woman with the freaky face.  She also takes a moment to close the woman’s eyes, Helen looks away and then sees the woman’s eyes are open again  And a fly keeps landing on the finger where the ring once was.  Helen hears a loud drip, but when she sees the water from the ceiling, thinks nothing of it.

Later, at her apartment she starts to hear drips.  Every time she finds the source and stops the leak, the sound comes from another part of her home.  The final moments are just beyond freaky.  This story totally works.

Part of this is due to the fact that the story is full of jumps, and the color schemes just make it all the freakier, especially the way the light and the dead woman’s makeup interact, creating a visual that will haunt your dreams.  Well worth watching, this is a film all film makers who are hoping to make a horror anthology are required to watch.

And seriously?  What a oddball ending with Karloff.

Posted in: Movies, Pop Culture

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