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Black Sabbath [UK] Blu-ray Review

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  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit), Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit), English DTS 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certificate: 18
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 96 Mins.
  • Studio: Arrow Films
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 13, 2013
  • List Price: £22.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray Discs and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

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I tre volti della paura or, as it is known to the English-speaking world, Black Sabbath, the film that gave the infamous heavy metal band its name, is the horror triptych from Italian goth-horror director Mario Bava (Baron Blood; Lisa and the Devil; Black Sunday). Appearing here in both its original European version and American re-edit that differ in multiple ways (which are detailed in a fine featurette included among the supplements), not the least of which is the sequencing of the three different stories, the intro by Boris Karloff, some connecting narration from Karloff, which appears in the American version, and more aggressively scored American version by Les Baxter.

The film begins with “The Telephone” in which a woman (Michele Mercier) is threatened by a mysterious caller, seemingly an ex-boyfriend, while alone in her apartment. An eerie thriller with sapphic overtones, the story plays itself out rather quickly and ends with a predictable ending.

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Bava then moves on to the Boris Karloff vehicle “I Wurdulak”, which anchors the film with the strongest story and best performance, courtesy of the veteran Karloff himself. It concerns itself with vampires who must feed only from the ones they love. The cinematography and set design for the segment is classic Bava, with shadowy manor houses and lavish costumes. It also provides the scariest moments of the entire film.

Finally the film wraps up with “The Drop of Water” in which a cantankerous nurse (Jacqueline Pierreux) is haunted by a seer from beyond the grave after stealing a piece of jewelry from her dead body. The shock and horror of the wide open eyes of the dead corpse makes for one of the more thrilling moments of the film.

Although Black Sabbath finds Bava experimenting more with genres and moving beyond the simple gothic tale of malevolent spirits attacking a group of wealthy people gathered in a fancy castle, the three tales still bear the signature style of his craft and offer entertaining, and more often than not, scary viewing. As Karloff says in the introduction – “I hope you didn’t come alone.”

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Black-Sabbath-UK-BD_02

Black Sabbath (or I tre volti della paura) has the typical look of these catalogue titles on Blu-ray from Arrow. The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement comes with a heavy dose of natural film softness, some uneven black levels, and at times coarse grain levels. Colors, however, are richly saturated and nothing here looks unnatural or unduly processed.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Black-Sabbath-UK-BD_03

English and Italian LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit) soundtracks are supplied. They are both full and dynamic given their age with little crackle and just a hint of hiss.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Black-Sabbath-UK-BD_04

In addition to the aforementioned dual versions of the film, the release comes with the typical slate of collectibles and interesting featurettes from Arrow, as listed below.

The supplements:

  • DVDs – Standard DVDs of the feature films are included.
  • Original European version with score by Roberto Nicolosi and re-edited American version of the film, with Les Baxter score, appearing on home video for the first time.
  • Audio Commentary with Bava biographer Tim Lucas
  • Introduction to the film by Author and critic Alan Jones
  • A Life in Film – Interview with Star Mark Damon
  • Twice the Fear (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:32:13) – This feature gives side-by-side comparisons of the differences in the audio, editing, and story sequencing between the original Italian version of the film and the American version.
  • International Trailer
  • US Trailer
  • Italian Trailer
  • TV and Radio Spots
  • Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Grant Humphries
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Cairns, a comparison of the versions of the film by Tim Lucas and a substantial interview with AIP producer Samuel Z. Arkoff on his experiences of working with Bava, illustrated with original stills and posters.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

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The spooky film with the famous name arrives on Blu-ray in both of its versions. There are major and minor differences between the European and American versions; which you prefer may be a matter of personal taste. I prefer the American re-edit for its fuller sound effects and eerie score. The classic floating-head opening is also far creepier. This one is a must for horror fans.

Additional Screen Captures

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Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

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[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00B5CTRV0[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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