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Black Sunday (1960) [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English & Italiab LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 15
  • Run Time: 103 Mins.
  • Discs: 3 (1 x Blu-ray + 2 x DVD)
  • Studio: Arrow Films
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 4, 2013
  • RRP: £22.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Black Sunday (La maschera del demonio; AKA as The Mask of Satan) is Italian filmmaker Mario Bava’s 1960 feature film debut. The gothic horror cult classic is also the film that put legendary “scream queen” Barbara Steele (Piranha; Caged Heat; The Pit and the Pendulum) on the map. In this film, Steele plays Katia, a witch who centuries earlier was sentenced to death by the church, but now has been accidentally awakened by a drop of blood when her tomb is disturbed. She immediately begins her savage revenge on the descendants of those responsible for killing her. This now certified classic piece of Gothic Italian horror, in all its fantastic glory, despite its gore and violence (we are shown a stunningly beautiful Steele early on tied to a steak, clothes torn being branded, the pockmarked face of the “witch” from the iron “mask of Satan” that was hammered onto her face), is nevertheless lavishly beautiful. Its luxuriant set designs, gorgeous lighting, and fascination with the unknown and mystical lend it a fantastical aura. It doesn’t hurt much either, when your leading lady is the undeniably magnificent Barbara Steele, filling dual roles as Katia the pockmarked witch and her gorgeous descendant Asa. This film and others in its ilk, such as the films from Hammer, helped set a precedent for European horror of the era. It would for a long while traverse the road of Gothic, fantastical stories, as opposed to its North American counterparts, more concerned with psychology or outright violence.

The film is presented on this disc in two versions, the original European edit, The Mask of Satan with score by Roberto Nicolosi, and Black Sunday, the re-edited, re-dubbed version with Les Baxter score that appears on home video for the first time.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Black Sunday and The Mask of Satan are given strong AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfers that look film-like with a natural layer of grain over the image, no smearing, and strong contrast levels with deep blacks.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The Mask of Satan and Black Sunday come with LPCM 2.0 mono (48kHz/16-bit) Italian soundtracks, and Black Sunday also has an English LPCM 2.0 mono (48kHz/16-bit) dub. Between the English and Italian tracks there is little audible difference, other than the English track is mastered a bit louder with a little more low end and has slightly clearer dialogue. The Italian track sounds just a bit more shrill. Both are on the boxy side and have audible clipping, especially during louder passages.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Arrow provides their usual full slate of extras and also include the early italian Gothic horror classic (in standard definition only) I Vampiri.

  • DVD — Two Standard Definition DVDs
  • Commentary by Film Critic Tim Lucas
  • An Introduction by Alan Jones (1.78:1; SD/NTSC; 00:02:52)
  • Interview with Barbara Steele (1.78:1; SD/NTSC; 00:08:44)
  • Deleted Scene (1.66:1; SD/NTSC; 00:03:32)
  • International Trailer (1.66:1; SD/NTSC)
  • US Trailer (1.66:1; SD/NTSC)
  • Italian Trailer (1.66:1; SD/NTSC)
  • TV Spot (1.33:1; SD/NTSC)
  • I Vampiri (1958) (2.35:1; SD/NTSC; 01:21:18):
  • Trailer (2.35:1; SD/NTSC)
  • Mario Brava Trailer Reel (SD/NTSC; 00:54:02)
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Matt Bailey and Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The Mask of Satan is one of those classic horror films you certainly don’t want to be watching alone. Even in todays world of cutting edge CGI effects, ultra-violence, and shock horror, this one holds up tremendously well. Perhaps its the mesmerizing eyes of Barbara Steele r the shadowy sets, or maybe its just downright good filmmaking, whatever it may be, 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

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B009WU5YVE[/amazon-product]

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

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]


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