Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Because I'm Frowning All The Time

No, not the band - the movie Black Sabbath (1964), that the band took it's name from. This is an Italian horror anthology, directed by the master of light and darkness, Mario Bava.

It is introduced by an avuncular Boris Karloff, who will be back soon. The first segment is "The Telephone." Swanky Michele Mercier is hanging about her chic apartment when the phone rings - but there is no one there. She hangs up but it rings again and again. The caller turns out to be her pimp who went to prison because of her, and now he's out and he knows everything she is doing. She calls her best enemy to come over, but she may be more dangerous than the caller.

This is a nice little mood piece, fluffy and frilly like Mercier's apartment, with a few nice twists. It is also an early giallo - those Italian slasher films known for stylish twists like black-gloved killers and sexy victims.

The middle story is probably the best and most famous: "The Wurdulak." A wanderer (Mark Damon) in the Czar's Russia comes upon a corpse with a dagger in its heart. He takes the dagger to the nearest farmhouse and finds that it came from their collection. They tell him that the father was out hunting wurdulak, an undead creature that kills who it loved most in life. When father gets home, there is some concern because he was out past the time limit he himself imposed. Is the father now a wurdulak? Hint: He is played by Boris Karloff.  The story is allegedly based on a story by Tolstoy, but I don't know how closely it follows it.

The last story, "A Drop of Water" is another mood piece. A woman (Jacqueline Pierreux) is at home in a small room with a glass of something, a gramaphone and her knitting. But she is called out to a creepy old mansion where a medium has died. She has been called to lay out the corpse. In the process, she steals a ring, and knocks over a glass of water. Soon, she is haunted by water droplets and the buzzing of a fly.

I liked the setting a lot - the cozy apartment, the creepy mansion, but the water drop/buzzing fly bugaboo was a little too random for me. Neither is that scary and they aren't really linked. Oh well.

Then Uncle Boris comes out to wish us good night, and don't let the vampires bite.

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