The Mask Of Satan – Lisa And The Devil – tape 901

Here’s a double bill of horror films from director Mario Bava. The Mask of Satan is introduced by the great Kim Newman. If you’re unfamiliar with him, you might think he was dressing up specially for this segment, but that’s how Kim dresses all the time.

It’s another starring role for Barbara Steele, whom we last saw in The Pit and the Pendulum. Here she plays a witch, executed at the start of the film by having a spiked mask hammered into her face. Nasty.

Two Centuries Later a professor and his assistant arrive at the place where the witch was entombed, and find her body, still surprisingly preserved under the mask (which of course they remove).

After being attacked by an unconvincing giant bat, they leave the crypt and meet a young woman Katia, daughter of Prince Vajda, who had heard a gunshot. She bears a striking resemblance to the with from the opening, because she’s also played by Barbara Steele.

Katia’s father, Prince Vajda, is worried about all the old stories. And well he might be as we can see the dead body of the witch slowly returning to life in the crypt.

She’s not the only one, as another victim of the spiky mask emerges in atmospheric style from the grave.

There’s a nice effect late in the film, where Katia grows visibly older in a continuous shot that’s not a dissolve. It’s a clever technique that only works in black and white. The old age makeup is a specific colour, like red, and the actress is lit initially with red light, so the makeup doesn’t show up, and the light is changed gradually from red to blue, making the red makeup suddenly look dark on the B&W film. It’s very effective.

Next, a later and slightly less well regarded Bava movie, Lisa and the Devil. Once again, here’s Kim Newman to introduce it.

As Mr Newman tells us, this is the director’s cut, seen for the first time in Britain.

Elke Sommer and Telly Savalas star in a haunted house movie. Savalas complete with his trademark lollipop.

It’s a bit meandering, punctuated by a few scenes of random violence. The scene where someone is run over with a car over and over again is particularly nasty. And the ending makes no sense at all.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 13th January 1990 – 21:40 (for both films)

After this, there’s a trailer for David Byrne’s True Stories.

Then there’s the start of the final of the World Professional Darts Championship, with odds-on favourite Eric Bristow up against 100-1 outsider, a chap called Phil Taylor.

There’s only the first set of darts in this recording before the tape ends. I wonder if anything became of young Taylor?

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2 comments

  1. “There’s a nice effect late in the film, where Katia grows visibly older in a continuous shot that’s not a dissolve. It’s a clever technique that only works in black and white. The old age makeup is a specific colour, like red, and the actress is lit initially with red light, so the makeup doesn’t show up, and the light is changed gradually from red to blue, making the red makeup suddenly look dark on the B&W film. It’s very effective.”

    Apparently that was they did on the 1941 version of “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” for the transformation.

    An Italian horror movie with an ending that makes no sense at all? I’m shocked.

  2. Black Sunday is such a great horror movie, made Barbara Steele a bit of a legend too. She has an incredible face, can look really evil or totally moral depending on the character, her features suit both.

    Lisa and the Devil succeeds as a dream (or nightmare) on film, but it feels like a joke only Bava (and maybe Telly) was in on.

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