Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Black Sabbath" Final Girl Film Club, January 2010

Black Sabbath (1963) directed by Mario Bava
Final Girl Film Club

Hello Final Girl Film Club members,
This is my second time joining in the FGFC (see Amityville II: The Possession) and I'm happy to do it again.

I enjoyed Black Sabbath and I can see why people like it. I don't know that I would recommend it to someone my age or younger. It's quaint. Like O. Henry's Full House, you could say, "Oh, Marilyn Monroe has a small part in it". With BS you could say, "Oh, the guy from How The Grinch Stole Christmas hosts it and stars in the final segment". Other than that, I don't know.

Had I grown up with it I might think it was scary and suspenseful. I still think Amityville II is very scary and disturbing but what would a younger person watching it today for the first time think of it? Would they be able to get into it and get creeped out by it?

I watched BS the way I would watch an episode of Days of Our Lives from 1963. Not involved in the story, just watching thinking, "OK, this is how storytelling was done back then".

So I go to Hulu and start watching. In the narration Boris Karloff is made to look "scary" through lighting, reflections, and camera angles. He still looks pretty good (he was born in 1887, isn't that crazy?); this is 3 years before The Grinch and 6 years before his death in 1969.

The first story- the woman in the bed- is quick and simple; it's well done and it sets a mood, it's just totally lacking in any surprise. At every turn you know exactly what's going to happen.

My problem with the second part is: I can't explain what happens. I don't know exactly. I have a feeling it might not make perfect sense. It's the phone calls I think. Is the guy a ghost? Why is he calling (or is it simply to scare and upset her?) and is he using a cell phone? After I watched the movie I looked it up- I hadn't caught the fact that the woman was a "high-priced call girl". I guess there were clues there that I missed- it wouldn't be the first time. I just thought she was a woman coming home after a cocktail party or a date. Was she counting a roll of cash or taking out her diaphram while I got up to grab my cigarettes?

The third and final story features Karloff as a Russian grandfather in the 1800s. He has left his family and gone off to kill a vampire who has been terrorizing the countryside. A man seeking shelter from the family finds the vampire's headless corpse at the beginning so we know the grandfather has succeeded. Still, the family is worried- the grandfather pre-warned them that if he doesn't return within 5 days that means he has become a vampire himself and they should not let him in.

When he comes back late it's clear to everyone that he's changed but nobody wants to accept it so they're cautious (though, really, not cautious enough- how could any of them sleep that night? I know it's wintery and cozy and on any other night I myself would be all snuggled in, but come on. He looks messed up, possibly high, and he orders his son to shoot his favorite dog when it won't stop barking. Then he focuses on the kid- "Can't I fondle my own grandson?" They're reluctant, but after a moment of hesitation it's, "Sure. Fondle away.")

The grandfather kills the whole family and the rest of the segment is all about the doomed love affair between the traveller and one of the daughters, the one who looks like Lily from The Munsters. By the way, I forgot to mention the main character in the first story. I don't want to be mean- she is actually pretty. But I kept thinking she looks a lot like Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot.

Anyway, it was all good and I'm glad I got to see Black Sabbath. But like I said, I'm not recommending it; check out Amityville II.

Check out the Final Girl blog here: http://finalgirl.blogspot.com/

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