Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Black Sabbath, the film that, yes, influenced the name of that classic heavy metal band, was directed by Mario Bava and is rife with his signature style – bold primary colors, beautiful women, gothic settings and lots of gore. An anthology film with three separate tales of horror each introduced by Boris Karloff, the original sources credited for each story are not accurate, but that is all part of the overall mood with this film. The first story, “The Telephone,” (credited to Guy de Maupassant, who did not write the story) follows a woman (Michele Mercier) who is receiving threatening telephone calls from an unknown stalker. The film then moves to “The Wurdulak”, where an older man (Karloff) returns to his family claiming he has slain a wurdulak, a creature that attacks the things it once loved. His family senses something strange about him, however, and he may be a danger. Finally, the film wraps up with “The Drop of Water” where in in-home nurse Helen Corey (Jacqueline Pierreux) steals a wring from a corpse and begins to be haunted by the apparition of the woman the ring belonged to.
The second story is the strongest entry, with a marvelous, creepy performance from Karloff who delivers the worst-aged line of the film (“What’s the matter, woman? Can’t I fondle my own grandson?”). Awkward dialogue aside, the proto-giallo elements such as the beautiful women in dangerous situations and slick visuals, despite its low budget, make the anthology an enjoyable if uneven entry from Bava.
Black Sabbath is presented in a 1.85:1 AVC 1080p encodement. Kino Lorber does not claim this as a new restoration and it perhaps looks like it could be redone, but it surely does not look terrible. The source looks from damage apart from the odd scratch, piece of dirt or faint tramlines here and there. The biggest issues are the coarsely layered grain and the shadows that show a little washout in places. It is still a satisfying and natural looking transfer, however.
An English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono soundtrack is included. The sound is boxy, narrow in range, and mastered at a low volume. Apart from these issues it sounds clean and has intelligible dialogue.
There is not much included on this disc. The audio commentary from Tim Lucas, where he shows off his knowledge and drops some good trivia tidbits is all you get beyond the trailer for this film and others.
- Audio Commentary by Novelist and Film Critic Tim Lucas
- Black Sabbath – Trailer (1080p; 00:02:23)
The Final Assessment
Classic gothic horror and proto-giallo from the great Italian filmmaker Mario Bava – a direct influence on Dario Argento – has a satisfying and watchable Blu-ray release from KL Studio Classics. Recommended for genre fans and fans of Boris Karloff.
Black Sabbath (AIP Edition) is out on Blu-ray October 24, 2023 from KL Studio Classics.
- Rating Certificate: Approved
- Studios & Distributors: Emmepi Cinematografica | Societé Cinématographique Lyre | Galatea Film | American International Pictures (AIP) | Alta Vista Productions | Kino Lorber
- Director: Mario Bava
- Written By: Marcello Fondato | Alberto Bevilacqua | Mario Bava
- Run Time: 92 Mins.
- Street Date: 24 October 2023
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Format: AVC 1080p
- Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
- Subtitles: English SDH