Monday 29 November 2010

two from Italy

 Black Sunday, I'm afraid did not do it for me at all. Barbara Steele is a horror icon, and both director Bava and this film are considered to be cornerstones of Italian and indeed European horror. Personally, I thought the atmosphere and character design (as far as the two villains went) was brilliant, but the story itself did nothing especially interesting or well. The opening scene with the mask of Satan is searing, but that intensity is lost in a film that meanders about, spending far too much time with the wrong characters. There was an eerie story here about a young girl growing up in an isolated castle, each day resembling the portrait of an ill-fated ancestress even more. A story about a personality that managed to survive death, shaping innocent victims into its own form until it could find the perfect vessel. But it is lost in a stock horror plot that adds nothing new to the bag of tricks pioneered by Universal in the 30s and 40s and fails to capitalise on its sporadic moments of utter brilliance.

Far more satisfying was Umberto D. which sat perfectly on that cusp between the maudlin and the cynical both of which are viewpoints that would have distorted the humane clarity of this brilliant story. I really can't bring myself to say more than that - you simply have to watch this one, if you haven't already.

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