Sunday, January 18, 2015

Black Sabbath, the Movie

I found the movie Black Sabbath on Netflix and had to watch it out of curiosity and also because it’s the movie title that the band borrowed as its name. The movie was an anthology of three horror stories introduced by Boris Karloff who had a role in the third story, “The Wurdalak”, in which he played the patriarch of a ranch family in fear of a wurdalak, in other words, a vampire. While killing the wurdalak/vampire, the father is bitten and becomes a vampire himself. He returns home to methodically turn his entire family into vampires including his little grandson who’s barely out of diapers. I didn’t realize a child vampire character existed before Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire. Fun to know!

The second story was about a young lady getting creepy stalker phone calls with the caller refusing to identify himself at first but creepily describe her every move and what she was wearing even though the door was locked and the blinds were closed. I liked this story, not only for the suspense when we learn that the victim, Rosy, believes the caller is actually calling from beyond the grave, but as a reminder of how limited telephone communication was before cell phones, voice mail, the internet with social media and especially caller ID. Back then the only way to find out who was calling was to take the major risk of having to talk to someone you hate and answer it. It would always ring when you were clear across the house or in the bathroom or, worse, in the middle of an exciting ending of a show you waited all week to watch. If you didn’t get to it in time you’d drive yourself crazy the rest of the day trying to guess who it might have been. Sometimes it would be days or weeks until you found out who that caller was that you missed. Unless they were an obnoxiously relentless caller who would keep calling until you answered, letting it ring and ring and ring until your neighbors wanted to kill you. It used to be protocol that you would only let someone’s phone ring ten times. If they couldn’t get to it within ten rings, they were either sleeping or not home. 

The first story of the trilogy was the ghouliest of the three. A grouchy self-centered nurse is called out in a storm to prepare one of her patients for pick up by the undertaker. The frantic maid who called her anxiously greets her at the door and shows her to the body of the dead medium lying in her bed with eyes agape and face in a leering distortion. The house is huge and messy with a large cat population and dolls everywhere. The nurse finally tries to close the corpse’s eyes after dressing her, positioning the hands and stealing a sapphire ring off her hand. The rest of the movie has the nurse driven crazy by a fly on her ring finger and dripping water once she returns home. It culminates with the corpse appearing in her bed and floating toward her forcing her to strangle herself. 

Sixties movies have some fun features like even if the story was set in a historic era the hair and make-up was always blatantly sixties. Blue eye shadow, thin long arched brows, thick black false lashes and a thick line of eyeliner above cherry-red lipstick. The hair was usually teased and brushed back away from the face and they had those cone-shaped high-lift bras. I also like the color of the sixties movies. I don’t know the technical terms, maybe Technicolor?, but you can tell a movie was made in the sixties just from the color. The color kind of took away from the gothic elements of the decaying old house in the Water Dripping story, but even more in the crumbling castle or church in the vampire story. Even though the stories themselves were dark and sinister, the vibrant color was a slight conflict.

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