Witch week kicks off with sort of a witch film closer to a vampire film. Mario Bava’s gothic horror classic originally titled The Mask of Satan starring genre favorite Barbara Steele in her breakout role. The film is about a curse laid down by vampire as her and her paramour are burned at the stake by the local prince. Two centuries later a pair of scientist disturbed their sacred tomb and start the wheels to the their return. The curse targets the local royals and the witch/vampire needs the body of the Princess to fully restore herself.
I am sad to admit that I have never heard of Mario Bava. I knew Italy had some rpetty famous horror films but I never seen much of any and outside Dario Argento knew of none of the famous directors who tackled the genre. Bava is not only one of the names in gothic horror but a number of his works have pioneered slasher and elements utilized in J-Horror. Let me tell, you I was very impressed by the look of this black and white film. Its moody, gothic, and shot beautifully. Bava started out as a cinematographer and continued doing it for most of his directing works. Barbara Steele in interesting. I watched a dub copy and it seemed at times her lines were not dubbed but she was an English actress so maybe the Italians had her do her lines in English, I don’t know. As for her role-she played both the evil witch Asa and Princess Katia and was good in both roles. There is something eerie about her, definitely striking as she was one of the standouts to Shivers which I reviewed days ago. Here she is a fascinating character. Her as well as the doctor, played by John Richardson, and even the Priest played by Antonio Pierfederici in a small role. The effects were mixed with some looking good and others looking lousy.
I liked this movie and can see why its been lifted from and cited as a classic. Its a moody horror film that at the time, I understand, pushed what can and can’t be done. Too bad the American cut had minutes of more cut. I’m looking into more Mario Bava films and more Barbara Steele films. Also-witch week might be short with Crimson Peak and Goosebumps coming up. Is alright-most the witch films I found don’t sound interesting enough for me to watch.