(In anticipation of the coolest day of the year, this month-long series will offer one recommended horror flick a day up through Oct. 31.)
BLACK SUNDAY (1966). Italy’s Mario Bava made his official directorial debut — he had worked uncredited on several earlier titles — with Black Sunday (aka The Mask of Satan), a beautifully composed picture whose moments of genuine shock surely rattled many a patron back in the day (indeed, the movie was banned in England for many years). Barbara Steele, in the role that turned her into a horror film icon, plays Asa, a 17th century witch who swears vengeance as she's burned at the stake. Cut to two centuries later, and a revived Asa schemes to gain immortality by drinking the blood of her descendant (also Steele). Bava and his crew's employment of unique camera angles, heavily atmospheric sets and startling moments of violence combine to create a trendsetting picture that has influenced generations of filmmakers (including Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton).