Friday, October 2, 2015

Halloween Movie Month: Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath (1963)
not rated

Black Sabbath is a collection of three horror stories.  The first story is about a nurse who is haunted after stealing the ring of one of her patients who had recently died.  The second story is about a young woman who receives threatening phone calls from a mysterious man who is watching every move she makes.  The third story is about a family in the 1800s that is being terrorized by a vampire roaming the countryside.

These three stories might not seem very scary from the outset, but each of them found a way to intensify my tension.  Since all three of the stories are relatively short, there isn't really enough time to pack in a lot of scary scenes.  And since one of the things that makes horror work is the anticipation and not knowing what will happen or when, I will not spoil the surprises.  However, I will tell you this:  the first story had a scene that sent shivers down my spine (which hasn't happened in a while), the second story made my wife run to the window and pull the curtain (even though the blinds were already down), and the third story would horrify any parent with a young child.

One of the reasons that I enjoyed Black Sabbath so much was because I love classic horror!  Maybe it's because it feels more like watching theater.  Maybe it's because it relies on more than just gore to be scary.  Maybe it's because it relies more on the use of imagination.  Maybe it's because the music gives it a classier feel.  Maybe it's because there tended to be a heavier emphasis on set pieces and the use of light and shadow.  But, I think that one of the main reasons that I love classic horror is because it takes me back to a time when there was still "the magic of cinema" - back to a time before people felt too jaded about things looking too fake in movies.

Rating and Recommendation:  3.5/5.  For anyone who likes classics and enjoys the history of horror, I definitely recommend Black Sabbath.  If you need blood and guts and nudity in order to enjoy a scary movie, then you might find this one a bit boring.  But, if blood and guts are what you need to enjoy a horror movie, then I think that you are missing the point a bit.  There are plenty of movies that can startle you.  But, what makes horror movies so fantastic is the ability for the movie to stay with you long after the startle.  There wasn't any gore (a little blood), but it still gave me the spooks for a bit.  The first story was more visually creepy.  The second story might have been the "scariest" in terms of not even being able to be safe in your own home.  The third story was more of a classic tale - it wasn't quite as creepy, but it certainly paid homage to Gothic horror that helped set the stage for modern horror.  The stories were all relatively simple.  However, I love that something seemingly so simple could still creep me out and send shivers down my spine.  Again, old movies just have something about them that makes them so much more interesting.  Maybe it's because older movies force you to fill in the gaps with the mind.  Maybe it's because I'm able to put myself in the mindset of someone watching 50 years ago and I watch it through the lens of the magical mystery or movies.  Or maybe it's because I'm not distracted by gore and can actually focus more on the story.  So, step away from the blood for a night and go enjoy a classic!!

Be sure to check back soon for more reviews in Halloween Movie Month!  In the meantime, leave comments on this (or any other) review, follow me here and on twitter (@GargyleReviews), and let me know what movies you'd like for me to review for Halloween Movie Month!

- The Gargyle

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