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Black Sunday
Reviewed by Dec 20th, 2009

Based on the story “The Vij” by Nikolai Gogol, Black Sunday is a visually lovely black and white film starring a young, wide-eyed Barbara Steele as both the 17th century Romanian witch Princess Asa and her modern day descendant, Princess Katia. The opening scene is a flashback from centuries before, when Princess Asa was being branded with the “mark of Satan” (just an “S”) and then a mask with spikes on the back was hammered into her face.

Cut to two men in a carriage, convincing the driver to take a shortcut through some haunted woods. A wheel falls off, and while the driver fixes it, the two doctors wander off into an old crypt, when Asa is entombed. One is attacked by a hilariously oversized bat, and accidentally cuts himself on some broken glass. The blood, of course, brings Princess Asa back to life.

As they leave, they meet a woman who looks suspiciously like Asa. She is her descendant, Princess Katia. There are some fun special effects involving Asa’s corpse. The acting is occasionally over the top, but it only serves to make the film more endearing. Some of the special effects are very good for being released in the 60s. The story is simple and effective. I won’t go as far as some and say it’s one of the best genre films ever, but it’s certainly entertaining and watchable.

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