• Black Sabbath

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: July 21sy, 2015
    Director: Mario Bava
    Cast: Boris Karloff, Michele Mercier, Mark Damon
    Year: 1963
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    The Movie

    Director Mario Bava's 1963 film is rightfully considered one of the cornerstones of classic Italian horror; a picture which still manages to dazzle and impress some fifty-plus years after its initial release, thanks to Bava's timeless talent and uniquely magical vision.

    Black Sabbath is an anthology film which combines three separate tales of terror, held together tenuously by horror legend Boris Karloff, who introduces all of the tales, while also acting in the final segment, titled "The Wurdulak." Or, at least, in this Kino Lorber Blu-Ray "The Wurdulak" occurs last, as the version contained here is the Americanized cut from Stateside distributors American International Pictures.

    This version of Black Sabbath differs from the cut many Bava fans-including this one-probably remember from the box sets released by Anchor Bay a number of years back. Said sets included the Italian version of Black Sabbath, which holds a number of different shots and plot points, the differences of which are discussed in great detail on this disc's exquisite commentary track from film critic, author and Bava biographer Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog magazine.

    The AIP version switches the order of these stores, kicking things off with "The Drop of Water," the most obviously frightening of the three short films. This first story focuses on a thieving nurse who receives her comeuppance from a vengeful beyond the grave, while the second film "The Telephone" builds upon this ghost story theme by setting its focus upon a beautiful-but-tormented young woman, trapped in her apartment by a series of increasingly frightening phone calls. It's this story which receives the biggest overhaul from AIP, as this version eliminates the lesbian subplot present within the Italian version, although there are some quaintly charming insert shots which only make an appearance here in this cut.

    "The Wurdulak" closes out Bava's film, and it's a slow burn but beautiful take on the vampire mythos which centers on the doomed Gorca family, victims of a vampyric curse which afflicts their patriarch, played with sublime brilliance by Karloff. It's an infamous trilogy which never loses its luster, and retains every inch of its impact, style and charm, thanks to an excellent Blu-Ray release from Kino Lorber.


    This transfer, presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition at 1.85.1, is indeed excellent, with deep, rich colors that pop off the screen with a vibrant luster. There's a bit of pleasant grain here and there, but Bava's amazing production design and cinematography-alongside collaborator Ubaldo Terzano-shines through in fantastic clarity, particularly on "The Wurdulak" and much of "The Drop of Water."

    The audio quality, in DTS-HD Mono, is also rock solid on the English dub from AIP, and it's great for fans to be able to own and compare both versions of Black Sabbath, as each cut possesses its own ups and downs. This writer actually prefers the story order here in the AIP version, and it must be said that being able to hear Boris Karloff's actual voice lends his performance some serious gravitas.

    The main drawing extra here is the aforementioned, exhaustively informative commentary track from Tim Lucas, who brings his Bava expertise to the table here, big time. Lucas fills the track with tidbits of production info, history and notes upon nearly every facet of the film, while also providing back stories and history for every actor involved, to boot. Tim's immense knowledge of the film never comes across as too stuffy or dry, either, as the historian's honest passion for the film carries the commentary track through with an enthusiasm which never becomes boring for the listener.

    The only other extras here are the film's original trailer, as well as a trailer for fellow Kino Blu, The Crimson Cult.

    The Final Word

    Black Sabbath receives a top notch AV job here from Kino Lorber, while the added bonus of Lucas' expert is simply icing on the cake for this highly recommended disc.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Man, that Drop of Water....scary as hell. Still.
    1. Scyther's Avatar
      Scyther -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mark Tolch View Post
      Man, that Drop of Water....scary as hell. Still.
      Absolutely. Still so tense!
    1. Christian Bates-Hardy's Avatar
      Christian Bates-Hardy -
      My favorite Bava film. I can't choose between the US and Italian cuts, they're both so good!
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      Is this a completely new commentary from Tim, separate from the the one he did for the Italian cut?
    1. Scyther's Avatar
      Scyther -
      Tim is being very specific with his commentary towards the AIP differences, so I'm going to say that this one is unique towards this version. I haven't seen the Italian Blu to compare, though.
    1. John Bernhard's Avatar
      John Bernhard -
      I have not heard the track on the Kino AIP version but understand it's a brand new one recorded just for this release.