La Maschera del demonio (Black Sunday) (House of Fright) (Mask of the Demon)
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La Maschera del demonio (Black Sunday) (House of Fright) (Mask of the Demon)
Generally considered to be the foremost example of Italian Gothic horror, this darkly atmospheric black-and-white chiller put director Mario Bava on the international map and made the bewitching Barbara Steele a star. Steele plays Princess Asa, a high priestess of Satan who is gruesomely executed in 1600s Moldavia by having a spiked mask hammered into her face. Before she dies, Asa vows revenge on the family who killed her and returns from the grave two centuries later to keep her promise. In a striking resurrection scene replete with bats, scorpions and fog, Asa rises from the tomb to claim… More
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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The visual style still impresses, but the story beneath it has become too formularised for the film to retain all its original power."
‑ Derek Adams, Time Out
"Bava's sumptuous visuals remain, with the director innovative in his employment of multiple side lights to give scenes a luminous quality and make playful use of shadows."
‑ Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
"Although Italian director Bava is somewhat overrated, this is his one undisputed masterpiece."
‑ , Film4
"Though shot in black-and-white, it demonstrates Bava's extraordinary skill with light and motion and shadow, used to suggest unholy things."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
"Hypnotic and compelling."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"It will leave its audiences yearning for that quiet, sunny little motel in Psycho."
‑ Eugene Archer, New York Times
"Swirling chiaroscuro, viscous rhapsody"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"...a melodramatic, thoroughly overwrought horror flick that's aged incredibly poorly in the years since its 1960 release."
‑ David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
"The most influential figure in Italian exploitation horror movies would never again match the success of this venture."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Mario Bava's first film is gorgiously photographed and often eerie, but it fails to scare much by today's standards."
‑ Christopher Null, Filmcritic.com
"A tremendous start to what would end up being one of the most brilliant careers in all of horror."
‑ Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy
"Bava and his crew's employment of unique camera angles, heavily atmospheric sets and startling moments of violence combine to create a trendsetting picture that has influenced generations of filmmakers (including Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton)."
‑ Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing
"One of the cinema's preeminent examples of gothic horror."
‑ Nick Schager, Lessons of Darkness
"The gorgeous black-and-white imagery is so remarkable that it overrides the bad acting, barely coherent story and the awful dialogue."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"Visually stunning, black and white creeper."
‑ Gerry Shamray, Sun Newspapers of Cleveland