With the release of ‘Black Sunday’ (aka ‘The Mask of Satan’) by Arrow Films, Barbara is abroad once more.


At the current price of £12.99 the new UK Region 2 edition of Mario Bava’s ‘Black Sunday’ is a bargain. Effectively, you get three versions of the film – on Bluray and DVD – plus Riccardo Freda’s earlier Italian horror, ‘I Vampiri’ (1956), which was also released as ‘The Devil’s Commandment’ and was photographed by Bava.

Arrow’s release includes the original international uncut version of the film, as ‘The Mask of Satan’, with Roberto Nicolosi’s original score and dubbed dialogue in English.
The same cut of the film, with the original Italian language dialogue, subtitled in English.
The AIP cut of the film, as ‘Black Sunday’.

Many extras, including a 32-page full-colour collector’s booklet, with discussions of ‘Black Sunday’ and ‘I Vampiri’, an interview with Barbara Steele, plus Riccardo Freda discussing ‘I Vampiri’ and Bava.
An interesting deleted scene from Italian version of film
Trailers, including a Bava showreel which has one each for all of Bava’s trailers, which is a great addition to the package
Interview with horror star Barbara Steele
Reversible sleeve to the DVD featuring original artwork by Graham Humphreys
Audio commentary Bava buff Tim Lucas that previously appeared in the ‘Mario Bava collection Volume 1’ (which is still available and also includes ‘Black Sabbath’ [Italian version only], ‘The Girl Who Knew Too Much’ [Italian version only], ‘Knives of the Avenger’ [English and Italian language versions], Kill, Baby…Kill! [English and far superior Italian language version])

I watched the AIP release, titled ‘Black Sunday’, which I’d never seen in its entirety. Many rate this as the better version of the film, even though it’s slightly cut. It does have a completely different English language dubbing job, which changes the emphasis of the story and builds the action around the fateful day of ‘Black Sunday’. ‘The Mask of Satan’ edition has an inferior dubbing job, but is uncut for gore. Both versions are masterful gothic horrors, with Birkenhead-born horror queen Steele in the first of her classic forays into elegant Italian gothic.

This film is rightly cited as one of the greatest horror films of the last century. On its original release in the UK, it was rejected by the British censors in February 1961 and was finally released as ‘Revenge of the Vampire’ in 1968, cut and rated X. First released by Vampix in the ‘pre-cert’ era, an early UK video edition of Bava’s film, from S.C. Video Ltd (aka Stablecane) in 1986, was an Italian print (with Italian titles, and ‘Steele’ misspelt ‘Steel’) with the pasted-on title ‘Black Sunday’. It was a cut edition, but was still rated ‘15’ by the BBFC. ‘The Mask of Satan’ was screened on UK TV when Kim Newman introduced a Bava double-bill on BBC2 in the late 1980s. The second film was ‘Lisa and the Devil’, which has also been released by Arrow in January 2013. You don’t get to say this very often with cult films such as ‘Black Sunday’, but this the definitive DVD release of the movie, and is an essential purchase.

Black Sunday Arrow

Order it from Amazon UK here

I don’t know if it’s the case in the USA, but Steele’s Italian films have been largely ignored by TV schedulers in the UK – Antonio Margheriti’s ‘The Long Hair of Death’ and Michael Reeves’ ‘The She Beast’ are the only other of her nine films to have received terrestrial TV airings, though the UK horror ‘Curse of the Crimson Altar’ shows up occasionally too. Only ‘Night of the Doomed’ aka ‘Nightmare Castle’, ‘Cemetery of the Living Dead’ aka ‘Terror Creatures from the Grave’ and ‘The Horrible Secret of Dr Hichcock’ have been released on home video in the UK. In the USA, there’s a good edition of the American release of ‘Castle of Terror’/’Danza Macabra’ on tape, which was issued by The Incredibly Strange Filmworks Inc. in 2000. The video edition of ‘Dr Hichcock’ is currently available on UK Amazon. All Steele’s are now available in one form or another on DVD. Most are available from Movies Unlimited in the USA


‘Castle of Blood’



‘The Long Hair of Death’

‘The Terrible Secret of Dr Hichcock’

‘The Ghost’

‘The She Beast’

‘Night of the Doomed’ (as ‘Nightmare Castle’)


‘Terror Creatures from the Grave’

‘An Angel for Satan’ (with ‘Long Hair of Death’)

You can read more about Barbara Steele’s career in my feature on the actress in Issue 11 of ‘Cinema Retro’, May 2008. The last few copies are available here

I discuss all 9 of Steele’s Italian gothics – ‘The Mask of Satan’, ‘Castle of Blood’, The Long Hair of Death’, ‘The Terrible Secret of Dr Hichcock’, ‘The Ghost’, ‘The She Beast’, ‘Night of the Doomed’, ‘Terror Creatures from the Grave’, ‘An Angel for Satan’ – in my book ‘Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult’, which is available now from Amazon, Waterstones or direct from I.B. Tauris

Cinema Italiano


3 thoughts on “THE EYES HAVE IT

  1. tim kenneally (luca canali) says:

    hi howard, I don’t dig babs steele too much. saw a few of her films and would like to see “an angel for satan” because of ursula davis. she’s most excellant. on a sad note i must tell you that i soon trade away my copy of “cinema italiano” because i met a person who has a old hardbound book (with dj) on the early days of german cinema under the guidance of doktor goebbels. they wanted your book after i praised it highly.i’m half german myself and am fascinated by the movies and stars of that era of german cinema for they were the ones who decided to stay in the fatherland and work for glory and not dollars (duetsch-marks). on a positive note i’m here to say i’m looking for a used copy of your “stage to tombstone” as i also love westerns. best regards,tim

    • filmgoersguide says:

      Good to hear from you again Tim. Sorry to hear you’ve traded my book, but ‘Stagecoach to Tombstone’ is a good read too. Think you should be able to get a used copy for around $7. The first edition of ‘Stagecoach’ has sold out now, so I.B. Tauris has reprinted it. The second edition (which is identical to the first) was published earlier this month. It seems to have become one of my most popular titles.
      All best,

      • tim kenneally (luca canali) says:

        hi howard, thank you for understanding. the lady i traded with, who hails from the deep south turned out to have a heart colder than babs steele in “black sunday”. “stage to tombstone” is nowhere to be found but did just recently buy a nice western film book that seems similar to your “tombstone” whereas a select group of films are discussed but in this case by different folks. also, no photos but illustrations by a lady artist. and they look great. paid two bucks and two bucks shipping. getting cheap movie books is a true art and one that i really enjoy.when i worked at the drive-in flea market in ohio i was known as “two-dollar tim” for the fact i always carried two dollar bills and felt that nothing in this world was worth more than two dollars. mostly. ha ha. well, just finished watching a real good french gangster film called “killing in the sun” with michel constantin and marcel bozzuffi and a extended cameo by henry silva. set in the 50’s and a nice staring role for michel. the lovely nicole calfan is in it ,also. i’ve been really getting into euro crime lately and am liking them very much. so much that i’ve taken the name (once again) luca canali. that was mario adorf’s name in “the italian connection” and the last name sounds so much like my last name that i have used it before. great tough film and mario’s best performance. henry silva is in it and also big black cat woody strode. cheers, luca canali

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: