31 Days Of Horror: 'Black Sabbath' (1963)
One of the things that I look for in doing these horror movie fests are scary movies that capture an intense sense of fun. It’s easy to be gross or spooky, and a lot of horror movies just lob off a teen’s head and call it a day. But it’s the fun ones that best capture that Halloween feeling better than any gorefest. Last year the movie that best fit the bill was Trick r’ Treat, a horror anthology that takes place in a spooky small town seemingly stuck in a perpetual autumn.
There’s something about horror anthologies like Trick r’ Treat that compliment the Halloween season. They tend to be a lighter fair, sometimes accompanied by a spooky narrator making bad puns, and often fall in line with the moralistic cautionary tales of 50’s EC Comics--following characters who probably deserve a good bump in the night. They’re a call back to chilly nights spent telling ghost stories with a big dumb bowl of candy and they tend to be a whole lot of fun.
Italian director Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath falls in this genre, presenting three scary stories of ghosts, vampires and revenge all introduced by a delightfully hammy Boris Karloff. But despite Karloff’s charm and Bava’s intense use of color, the stories sometimes feel a little plodding and disappointing—not nearly as fun as their introductions. Compared to other horror anthologies, like Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, hell, even Disney Halloween, this one comes up feeling a bit lacking.
This is especially true of the second story “The Telephone,” which due to several changes in the American version doesn’t make a lot of sense. In the original a prostitute is plagued by late night phone calls from her pimp scorned by her love affair with another woman. The American version turns him into a ghost. It creates a couple of plot holes, to say the least—like say, how does one stab a ghost? Whatever.