La maschera del demonio (1960)

83m [USA], 87m [Italy]
35mm, black and white, 1.66:1
mono, Italian

An Italian horror film directed by Mario Bava. It was Bava's first genre film as director (not counting his uncredited work on I vampiri (1957) and Caltiki il mostro immortale (1959)) and was banned in the UK for eight years.

Plot Summary

In the 17th century, Princess Asa and her brother Prince Igor Javutich are for practising witchcraft and vampirism. Two hundred years later, Asa is accidentally freed from her tomb by a pair of doctors and, with her reborn brother, she sets about possessing the body of her lookalike descendant, Katia.


* = uncredited

Directed by: Mario Bava
© Galatea S.p.A. Roma; © Alta Vista Productions [US version]
A Galatea Film, Jolly Film production. James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff present [US version]
Executive Producer: Samuel Z. Arkoff [US version]
Produced by: Massimo De Rita
Producer [US Version]: Lou Rusoff
Screen Play by: Ennio De Concini, Mario Serandrei, Mario Bava *
Screenplay/Adaptation: Marcello Coscia *
From a tale [The Vij] by: Nikolaj Gogol
Photography by: Mario Bava
Editors: Mario Serandrei; Salvatore Billitteri [US version]
Music Composed by: Roberto Nicolosi
English Dialogue Written and Directed by: George Higgins III [US version]
Wardrobe by: Tina Loriedo Grani
Sets Designed by: Giorgio Giovannini

Barbara Steele [Barbara Steel on US prints] (Princess Katia/Princess Asa)
John Richardson (Dr Andrej Gorobek)
Andrea Checchi (Dr Choma Kruvajan)
Ivo Garrani (Prince Vajda)
Arturo Dominici (Javutich)
Enrico Olivieri (Constantin Vajda)
Antonio Pierfederici (the priest)
Tino Bianchi (Ivan)
Clara Bindi (innkeeper)
Mario Passante (Nikita)
Renato Terra (Boris)
Germana Dominici (inkeeper's daughter, peasant girl)

Alternative Titles

Black Sunday – USA
House of Fright
Djævelens maske – Denmark
Het Duivels-Masker – Belgium
La mascára del demonio – Spain, Mexico
The Mask of Satan – USA
Le Masque du d̩mon РFrance
Paholaisen naamio – Finland
of the Vampire – UK
Seytanin maskeski – Turkey
Die Stunde venn Dracula Kommt – German

La maschera del demonio (1989)

See also
The Shrine (2012)


Film Daily vol.118 no.35 (21 February 1961) p.8
Mario Bava […] never lets the suspense lag, or a scene's impact falter […] Black Sunday is a film that lingers in the mind quite a while after the final ‘The End'” – from a review by H.M.

Variety 22 February 1961
There is sufficient cinematographic ingenuity and production flair in Black Sunday to keep an audience pleasantly unnerved. This in spite of a screenplay that reads, in translation from the original Italian, like a grade school imitation of Poe… Most of the suspense and excitement stirred up in the Massino de Rita production is accomplished by means of photography and artwork. The lens, under the perceptive guidance of director Bava, keeps zooming, swooping and snooping in and out of dark, forbidding corners of the castle and surrounding forest to hold the spectator's nerves at attention. – Tube

L'Incroyable Cinema vol.1 no.1 (January 1969) p.33
[T]hose who troop to see it for its reputed excesses of horror will be disappointed. Those who go to see it as a work of art will not. This is arguably the most potent Gothic visualization since Nosferatu. Not only its action but its landscapes, its sounds, its light and shadow, are informed by the spectral, circumscribed by a hereditary curse and by the supernatural sexuality which is uniquely Bava's. If I'm saying little about this astonishing film, it's not so much that it's all been said as that this is a film to experience, not to discuss. True imagination is still at a premium in the horror film, and it's this and Barbara Steele which make Black Sunday so precious. – from a review by J. Ramsey Campbell



  • Alien no.13 (January 1965) pp.26-27 – review (Vision film review by J. Ramsey Campbell)
  • Cahiers du Cinéma vol.20 no.119 (May 1961) p.53 – review
  • Cinefantastique vol.27 no.6 (February 1996) p.54 – illustrated article (Black Sunday by Christopher S. Dietrich)
  • Cinematographie Francaise no.1913 (15 April 1961) p.31 – review
  • Cold Sweat no.10 p.12 – review
  • The Daily Cinema no.9530 (7 June 1968) p.14 – review
  • Fangoria no.191 (April 2000) pp.68-69 – illustrated DVD review (DVD Dungeon by Michael Gingold and Matthew Kiernan)
  • Film Daily vol.118 no.35 (21 February 1961) p.8 – review (by H.M.)
  • Le Film Français no.882 (21 April 1961) p.19 – review
  • Film Ideal no.220-221 1970 pp.319-344 (Spain) – article
  • Film Ireland no.102 (January/February 2005) pp.12-14 (Ireland) – illustrated article (A-Z of Cult Cinema: Video Trash and Treasure from the Vaults by Mark Venner)
  • Film Score Monthly vol.3 no.9 (October/November 1998) p.36 – soundtrack review (Citadel's heraldry by Jeff Bond)
  • Film Score Monthly vol.5 no.1 January 2000 p.48 – DVD review (The laserphile: DVD race 2000 by Andy Dursin)
  • Gothique no.9 (October 1969) pp.4-8 – illustrated article (Back to Nosferatu! by John Ramsey Campbell)
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.164 no.3 (16 February 1961) p.3 – review
  • L'Incroyable Cinema vol.1 no.1 (January 1969) p.33 – review (Campbell's Cinema: Revenge of the Vampire by J. Ramsey Campbell)
  • Intermezzo vol.15 no.16-17 (15 September 1960) p.13 – review
  • Kine Weekly no.3165 (8 June 1968) p.152 – review
  • Metro no.110 (1997) pp.45-49 – illustrated article (Black Sunday: Reinventing The Mask of Satan by Tim Lucas)
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.35 no.414 (July 1968) pp.99-100 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.222 no.5 (18 February 1961) p.20 – review
  • The Perfect Vision vol.6 no.23 (October 1994) pp.59-63 – illustrated article (Cult memories by Barbara Steele)
  • The Perfect Vision vol.6 no.23 (October 1994) pp.134-35 – illustrated laserdisc review (Capsule comments on laserdisc by Bob Stephens)
  • Positif no.40 (July 1961) p.24 – review
  • Premiere no.300 (February 2002) pp.101-102 – illustrated DVD review (Le Mario était en noir by Gérard Delorme)
  • Shivers no.29 p.18 – review
  • Sight & Sound vol.3 no.3 (March 1993) p.61 – video review
  • Supernatural no.1 (January 1969) pp.36-38 – illustrated article (Revenge of the Vampire)
  • Variety 22 February 1961 – review (by Tube)


  • All the Colors of the Dark by Tim Lucas pp.280-327 – illustrated credits, article, review
  • American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography by Rob Craig p.64
  • American International Pictures: A Filmography by Robert L. Ottoson p.65, 67 – credits, synopsis, review
  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.133-134
  • Cinematic by John L. Flynn pp.129-130
  • Dracula in the Dark: The Dracula Film Adaptations by James Craig Holte pp.65-66 – note
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.268
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.56, 61, 90-93, 94, 96, 103, 121, 123, 132, 136, 146, 153, 159, 163, 168, 174, 206, 240, 259, 359
  • Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures by Mark Thomas McGee pp.303
  • Feature Films, 1960-1969: A Filmography of English-language and Major Foreign-language United States Releases by Harris M. Lentz III p.40 – credits
  • The Haunted World of Mario Bava by Troy Howarth pp.22-48; 332 – review; credits
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.35
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.190, 191 – illustrated credits, review
  • Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957-1969 by Roberto Curti pp.37-49 – credits, review
  • Italian Horror 1979-1994 by Jim Harper pp.89-90 – illustrated credits, review
  • Italian Horror Films of the 1960s: A Critical Catalog of 62 Chillers by Lawrence McCallum pp.31-38 – illustrated synopsis, credits, review
  • The Mammoth Book of Slasher Movies: An A-Z Guide to Over Sixty Years of Blood and Guts by Peter Normanton pp.79-81
  • Mario Bava by Alberto Pezzotta pp.18-25; 103-104
  • Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark by Tim Lucas pp.281-283 – illustrated review, synopsis, production notes, credits
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.38 – credits
  • Rock ‘n' Roll Monsters: The American International Story by Bruce G. Hallenbeck pp.162-168
  • Sixties Shockers by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn pp.57-59
  • Top 100 Horror Movies by Gary Gerani pp.140-141 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • The Vampire in Science Fiction Film and Literature by Paul Meehan p.109, 111, 195

Other Sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide December 2022 p.21 – illustrated listing