Moldavia, 1630. A beautiful witch, Asa Vajda and her lover, Javuto, are both sentenced to death for the crime of witchcraft. Moments before she is burned at the stake, Asa curses her brother, the one who condemned her to death, and his descendants will pay the price for her death. They then place a mask filled with spikes over her face and it is then hammered into her bloody flesh.
Fast forward 200 years. Dr. Thomas Kruvajan and his friend, Dr. Andre Gorobec are visiting Moldavia to check into a medical conference when their carriage breaks down. The coachmen set to repair the carriage so to pass the time the two doctors explore the nearby area where they stumble upon an old crypt where they discover the tomb of Asa the witch. The two are startled by a bat and while trying to strike the bat they accidentally shatter the glass tomb of Asa and the cross that was over her body. Dr. Kruvajan inspects the woman but cuts his hand on the broken glass. The blood drips onto Asa’s face and you can pretty much guess what happens next…
Black Sunday, also known as The Mask of Satan and Revenge of the Vampire, is directed by Mario Bava from a screenplay by Ennio de Concini and Mario Serandrei (with uncredited contributions by Bava, Marcello Coscia, and Dino Di Palma), and starring Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Arturo Dominici and Ivo Garrani. Black Sunday is also loosely based the short story “Viy” by Nikolai Gogol.
This film is big in the realm of the cult classic and mainstream horror. For it’s time it was considered a very dark and needlessly violent. So much so, the film was actually banned in the United Kingdom until 1968. The film was also censored in the United States by American International Pictures where it shared a double feature with horror legend Roger Corman‘s The Little Shop of Horrors.
Despite the censorship and other hardships, Black Sunday was a commercial success in all it’s released markets and is responsible for starting the careers of Barbara Steele and Mario Bava. In fact, one of the film’s scenes was placed number 40 on the Bravo TV‘s “100 Scariest Movie Moments”.