|Barbara Steele in satanic mode|
BLACK SUNDAY (aka The Mask of Satan/La maschera del demonio/1960.) Director: Mario Bava.
This is the first film for which Bava was credited as director. The witch Asa (Barbara Steele) has a spiked mask hammered into her face and is entombed, but many years later some blood drips onto the mask and the witch is revived to get revenge on the descendants of those who destroyed her. Asa would also love to possess the mind and body of her lookalike, Katia (Steele, of course). Katia's brother Constantine (Enrico Olivieri) and doctor (John Richardson) do their best to foil the plans of the hateful and vampiric Asa. Although Black Sunday is a famous and influential movie it's still pretty mediocre, but is bolstered by the appearance of Steele with her distinctive, expressive and sensual face [but, who, sadly, is dubbed throughout] and by Bava's excellent cinematography. Like most of Bava's movies, Black Sunday is rich in atmosphere and has excellent settings, especially the castle where most of the action takes place, but it lacks tension and impact. Bava also directed The Whip and the Body/What three years later, but his best film is arguably Blood and Black Lace.
Verdict: Everything Barbara Steele is in is interesting. **1/2.