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Maschera Del Demonio, La

AKA's: Black Sunday / Demon's Mask, The / Hour When Dracula Comes, The / House Of Fright / Maldicao Do Demonio. A / Mascara Del Demonio, La / Mask Of Satan, The / Mask Of The Demon / Masque Du Demon, Le / Paholaisen Naamio / Revenge Of The Vampire / Stunde Wenn Dracula Kommt, Die

Release date: 1960 Italy
Running time: 84' (cover 87') - Source: DVD (RC 0/PAL) b/w
83' (cover 84') - Source: VHS NTSC b/w
Rating: Germ.: 18; UK: 15; US: NR
Main Crew: Director: Mario Bava (Baron Blood 1972; Operazione Paura 1966; I Vampiri 1956)
Producer: Galatea Film / Jolly Film
Score: Robert Nicolosi
Writer: Mario Bava / Ennio De Concini / Mario Serandrei
            (based on Nikolai Gogol's novel "The Vij")
Director of photography: Mario Bava


Summary: This chilling vampire tale begins in 17th-century Moldavia, where the evil Princess Asa (Barbara Steele) is executed for witchcraft and vampirism, along with her brother Prince Igor Javutich (Arturo Dominici). Two centuries later, a pair of traveling doctors en route to a medical convention discover Asa's crypt and inadvertently revive the evil princess, whose scheme of vampiric revenge is aimed at her own identical descendant, Princess Katia, an innocent beauty (also played by Steele), whose lifeblood will ensure Asa's immortality.
Note: - As a reward for saving "Caltiki", the president of Galatea Studios offered Bava the opportunity to film any story he wanted. This film was the former cameraman's official (the first time he received the credit) directorial debut, at age of 46, and it also marked the beginning of a multi-picture deal between Bava and American International Pictures, who would release several of Bava's subsequent films, usually in altered and censored forms.
- The film's original title ("La Maschera Del Demonio") was a play on the Italian release title of Hammer's "The Curse Of Frankenstein" - "La Maschera Di Frankenstein" (1957) - which had been a box-office sensation a couple of years earlier.
- The story is loosely based on Nikolai Gogol's story "The Vij", but after four rewrites there is little of Gogol remaining in the film.
- Although the sixties easily allowed for color movies, Bava decided to shoot the film entirely in black and white, to recreate the gothic look of Universal's classic horror movies.
- A few references are made to "I Vampiri"(1956), especially in the discovery of a dead body near the river bank, and the aging effect.
- Barbara Steele (who agreed to appear in the film without a salary, instead receiving per diem expenses) worked with Bava only this once. Bava didn't want to work with her again because of her unprofessional behavior.
- During one of Steele's scenes at the stake her clothes caught fire and Bava, rather than commanding the action to cease, continued to film the scene.
- AIP (who had acquired the distribution rights for the US) spent the money for redubbing and re-scoring (by Les Baxter) the film because Nicholson and Arkoff thought the original dub was lousy. Bava called this version of the film "The Mask Of Satan". AIP did not like the title and some of the content, cut three minutes of potentially offensive scenes out of the movie and renamed it to "Black Sunday".
- The British board of censors refused to certify the AIP version of the film (not even the adult "X"), which meant "Black Sunday" was banned in the UK and could not be shown in any licensed movie theater within the United Kingdom. Several years later, in 1968, a more censored version of the film was officially released in the UK, titled "Revenge of the Vampire".

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