AT LAST… THE AMERICAN VERSION OF MARIO BAVA’S BLACK SUNDAY ON DVD!
One of the most important horror films of the 1960’s, BLACK SUNDAY marked the directorial debut of Italian master, MARIO BAVA, and launched the career of BARBARA STEELE as a major star of the macabre cinema. In this version with the American voice and music track, composer Les Baxter’s stirring score adds immensely to the overall atmosphere of this Gothic thriller.
This edition of BLACK SUNDAY has been remastered from all digital elements to insure a quality picture and is re-sized so that the full theatrical film frame can be seen on your television uncropped.
An extra feature on this DVD is a photo gallery of over 100 images including posters, publicity stills, ads and the complete set of lobby cards in full color. A second photo gallery spotlights the strange beauty of Barbara Steele throughout her cinema career..
American International presents BARBARA STEELE – JOHN RICHARDSON – IVO GARRANI – ANDREA CHECCHI in BLACK SUNDAY. Directed by MARIO BAVA. Music- Les Baxter. Produced by Massimo de Rita. Screenplay by Ennio De Concini and Mario Serandrei. B&W. 1961. 84 Minutes approx. Letterbox Format. ALL REGIONS DVD.
NOTES FROM BILL BLACK:
One of my all-time favorite films is BLACK SUNDAY starring the 19 year old BARBARA STEELE. Since I first went to the movies as a young boy I had always been fascinated by monster movies (horror and sci-fi). By the time of this film’s release (1961) American International Pictures was just beginning its high quality Edgar Allan Poe series by director Roger Corman who had made many drive-in thrillers in the 1950's. HOUSE OF USHER was a notable leap in quality for that studio and further enshrined the excellent VINCENT PRICE as the modern-day prince of the horror film genre. AIP followed USHER with the release of BLACK SUNDAY, an Italian film by the atmospheric director, MARIO BAVA, who had previously worked as cameraman with Fellini.
Heretofore the Macabre Cinema was well represented by male stars… Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney (Sr. and Jr.) and the then emerging Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. But never before Barbara Steele was there a FEMALE horror lead. Her performance in BLACK SUNDAY playing the dual roles of the sad beauty, Princess Katia, and the horrendously evil Asa was nothing short of awesome. Barbara Steele was just what I was looking for and just what I had always hoped to find in the macabre cinema. A rare, exotic beauty the image of Asa/Katia has haunted me all my life. AIP quickly cast Barbara opposite Price in Corman’s second Poe masterpiece, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM. Then Fellini cast her in a supporting role in Fellini’s 8 1/2, my all-time favorite movie. Barbara continued with a string of Italian horror movies thruout the 1960's, most notably NIGHTMARE CASTLE and CASTLE OF BLOOD. Bava followed BLACK SUNDAY with BLACK SABBATH starring Karloff, then the first (and the best!) of the serial-slasher films, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE… both proving him a master in this genre. Also adding greatly to the atmosphere of BLACK SUNDAY is the music score by LES BAXTER. Baxter scored many AIP films (HOUSE OF USHER, PIT AND THE PENDULUM, PANIC IN YEAR ZERO, DUNWICH HORROR, COMEDY OF TERRORS, THE RAVEN and many more. Several of his scores rated sound track albums including MASTER OF THE WORLD and GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS… two of his finest efforts. Though BLACK SUNDAY never had a sound track record, Baxter did include the haunting “Katia’s theme” on his JEWELS OF THE SEA album as the title tune. Believe me I’ve played that piece over and over again for 40 years. Indeed, BLACK SUNDAY changed my life. At FSU in the mid ’60's, I was attracted to a pretty co-ed… her long, dark brown hair instantly reminded me of Barbara Steele. Today she is known as… REBEKAH BLACK! So you see, movies can change your life! I’m thrilled to present the AIP version of BLACK SUNDAY for others to enjoy! In the 1961 release, AIP cut out some of the more gruesome scenes (stake thru the eye, extended flesh searing branding, etc) as well as a tender garden scene featuring Richardson and Steele. In THIS print and only in this print, these scenes have been restored to the American release version that features the Baxter music score. In 2011 the BLACK SUNDAY sound track was finally released on CD.