Director – Mario Bava, Salvatore Billitteri
Cast – Boris Karloff, Jacqueline Pierreux, Milli Monty, Michelle Mercier, Lidia Alfonsi, Mark Damon, Susy Andersen, Massimo Righi, Rika Dialina, Glauco Onorato
Release Year – 1963
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Before Lucio Fulci, before Dario Argento, there was Mario Bava. This infamous Italian director began his film career in the mid forties, and gave us what few horror films can do even to this day…give us amazing atmosphere. Horror anthologies have always been a fun idea to me, mainly because it allows the director to give us basically 3-5 films in one sitting, the more the merrier right? In 1963, three years after the immense success of his film, “Black Sunday”, Bava gave us his anthology. Three chilling tales ranging from ghouls to stalkers to vampires, this film is a must see.
Horror legend Boris Karloff introduces three chilling tales originally known in Italy as “The Three Faces of Fear”. The first, “The Drop of Water”: a 19th century nurse makes a doomful decision to steal a ring off of a corpse she is preparing, a spiritualist who died during a séance. The second, “The Telephone”: a woman is terrorized by telephone calls from her vengeful lover, Frank, who died several years prior. The third, “The Wurdalak”: a traveling count in the 1800s stumbles upon a family that looks to rid the countryside of a sect of vampires that drink the blood of their loved ones, featuring Boris Karloff as the vampire.
Just like every other main horror anthology(“Creepshow”, “Trick ‘r Treat”), this film is a charm to fans of the genre. Boris Karloff’s role as the host was a nice touch, and was only exemplified when he appeared in the final segment in awesome fashion. Each segment was expertly crafted by Mario Bava. If there is any “Master of Atmosphere”, it has to be Mario Bava. His cinematography was amazingly done, using each shadow and corner to his advantage. It is amazing just how well he crafts each scene, always keeping the tension high while doing very little. To add to this the film’s musical score is great as well. It is eerie, yet enchanting at just the right time. Thanks to this amazing atmosphere, and the fact that each segment is relatively short compared to full-length runtimes, the film paces amazingly. Keeping viewer interest high is of the utmost importance if you want your film to pace well, and Bava succeeds at that.
The storylines were awesome, and had me intrigued even though I have seen similar films before. It could be the old-time feel this film has, coupled with a nicely developed story(for it’s runtime) that always ends with a shocker of an ending. Each of the stories were enjoyable, but my favorite was “The Drop of Water”, followed by “The Telephone”, followed by “The Wurdalak”. This is only my opinion based on my enjoyment of the segment, in all actuality, it seems “The Wurdalak” is the popular favorite of the three.
Overall, this is an awesome horror anthology that I recommend to all fans of the horror genre. Expertly crafted by one of horror’s greatest directors EVER, you will not be disappointed.