You will never escape my vengeance, or of Satan’s! – Princess Asa
In preparation for the premiere of American Horror Story’s third installment subtitled Coven I have been brushing up on my witch-centric horror films which brought me to the classic Mario Bava flick Black Sunday aka The Mask of Satan.
Released in 1960 the film occupies a unique place within the realm of horror. Not part of the Universal lead golden era of horror and not quite in the full swing of the days of Hammer Horror. Shot in black and white the film definitely has the feeling of a classic Universal horror while some of the slightly gorier moments are obviously part of the horror ushered in with Curse Of Frankenstein in 1957 by Hammer.
The film features some incredibly striking sequences. The one that stands out the most is definitely the opening sequence in which the witch princess Asa is put to death. A mask depicting Satan with long spikes on the inside is hammered to her face before the Inquisitors attempt to burn her at the stake.
200 years later the witch rises in an attempt to rule with the power of Satan. Barbara Steel is flawless in that 1960s kind of way as the dual roles of the witch princess and her doppelganger Princess Katia.
A perfect film for Halloween time and it gets bonus points for being banned in the UK for 8 years. Any film banned in the UK is pretty much worth watching (see Texas Chainsaw Massacre etc).