Black Sabbath, 1963 (aka I tre volti della paura (The Three Faces of Fear))
Director: Mario Bava
Availability: Medium (available on DVD from Image Entertainment)

Yes, another Bava film. And, no, Black Sabbath isn’t the related to Black Sunday.

This is probably my favorite of all of Bava’s films. It’s a series of three shorts, each standing well on its own, but even better as part of the whole. From my UA Journal review, here is a rundown of the three shorts:

The first of the three shorts, titled “The Telephone,” places a young, attractive girl, played by Michele Mercier, alone in her apartment as she receives late night phone threats, presumably from an escaped killer that she helped put behind bars. This story is simple, but compelling, providing some tense moments laced with interesting lesbian overtones (which were cut out of the American release in 1964, being that the trio of stories was aimed towards children).

The second story, “The Wurdulak,” stars Boris Karloff as a vampire-slaying grandfather who is bitten by the bug, so to speak. His family must deal with the fact that he has become a vampire and come to grips with the need to drive a stake through his heart. Again, the atmosphere is genuinely creepy—I frequently found myself staring at the landscape Bava created when I should have been listening to dialogue. The sets are more intricate, as are the characters, than in “The Telephone,” but both manage to relay a similar sense of uneasiness.

The final short is “The Drop of Water,” a wonderfully constructed piece about a nurse who steals a ring from a dead medium’s hand and is subsequently haunted by the medium’s ghost. This spine-chilling (quite literally) tale was clearly the inspiration for a number of movies and characters of more recent years. There’s an interesting connection with Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 that one should pick up on the first watching. Out of the three tales, this one takes the cake for simple eerieness—every drop of water will make you shiver and you may never see houseflies in quite the same way.

Black Sabbath and Kwaidan would make for a great night of late-October viewing if you like your horror with some atmosphere.