Monday, February 25, 2013

Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973) review


William Marshall (Mamuwalde/Blacula), Pam Grier (Lisa Fortier), Don Mitchell (Justin Carter), Richard Lawson (Willis Daniels), Michael Conrad (Lt. Harley Dunlop)

Directed by Bob Kelljan

"Hey, look here, man. You mean to tell me I ain't never gon' see my face again?! Hey, look man, I don't mind bein' a vampire and all that shit, but, but this really ain't hip! I mean, a man HAS GOT TO SEE HIS FACE!"

The Short Version: This lesser sequel to the 70s cult favorite BLACULA (1972) abandons that films romanticism and humanization of the lead character, opting for a heavier horror accent. Kelljan has essentially reworked highlights from his two YORGA movies for this one. It's voodoo vs. vampire when Pam Grier meets William Marshall, only the former is nowhere near the one woman war machine she was in COFFY (1973). The assault on the vampire filled mansion during the finale is among this films few highlights. An entertaining film, but nothing to SCREAM about. Marshall excels, and shows he was clearly capable of out-menacing Christopher Lee in any of his Dracula roles. It's a true shame Mamuwalde wasn't resurrected a third time.

A voodoo priestess dies without naming her successor. Through a vote, the group choose Lisa Fortier as their new leader. The dead woman's son, Willis Daniels, vehemently disagrees. Humiliated and forced out of the cult, Willis buys the bones of the vampire Mamuwalde from a dethroned occult priest elder and uses them in a ritual to revive the undead prince.

Fresh off helming two COUNT YORGA movies, Bob Kelljan took the job of the Yorga-ish sequel to the horror hit, BLACULA (1972). The blood is a bit thin this time out with a script that offers lots of promise but fails to deliver on much of it. The same two contributors (Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig) from the first movie return with an additional screenplay credit going to a Maurice Jules who also wrote the script for Stephanie Rothman's THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971). 

There were some minor holes the first time around, but for the sequel, there's a few that are fairly obvious. One of these includes the Ragman, the disgraced voodoo priest. When we meet him near the beginning, he has Mamuwalde's bones in his possession (this itself is not explained) and states he has also wanted revenge on this unnamed voodoo cult. Why has he not done so up to this point?

Another involves Willis, and this gaping plot hole is arguably the most painful of the entire film. His reasoning for bringing the vampire back to life is somewhat confusing. It's obvious it's for vengeful purposes, but this revenge is never put into action. The film is a little over 60 minutes in before he ever even mentions getting back at Lisa again. Curiously, the two of them never meet again after the films opening sequence. His vengeance against the voodoo cult would have made an interesting story arc with both Willis and Mamuwalde butting fangs over Lisa. But this part is muddled, settling for a retread of the first movie via the Yorga pictures as a template.

Mamuwalde himself seems to have no purpose through the bulk of the movie except to vampirize various cast members. He's far more villainous and evil than he was the first time around. It's not till the film is more than half over before we discover he wants to use Lisa to perform an exorcism to send him back to his African tribe for forgiveness. The finale is just as tragic as it was the first time around; only there's no lovelorn romanticism to make Mamuwalde as sympathetic by way of the humanity he displayed in the earlier picture.

Kelljan's movie does link with the original by way of a flashback to the first films opening sequence, and again when Mamuwalde visits the home of Justin Carter where there's an African antique party going on. He remarks about a particular necklace, of which only two were made -- one being for the long dead princess Luva. This is as close as the sequel gets to unification with the character as depicted previously. Marshall is strictly menacing here. It's not a bad thing, and probably the only way to go at this point; it's just that Mamuwalde is basically a taller, deeper voiced version of Count Yorga along with his growing number of undead minions. 

Speaking of Yorga, there's lots of similarities between this film and the two Yorga's -- particularly RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971). The scene where Gloria rise from her casket and attempts to put the bite on Pam Grier is similar to the one in the second Yorga film where Mariette Hartley is confronted by one of her vampirized friends.

Both Yorga movies featured scenes wherein the heroes have a sit-down chat with the head bloodsucker. In SBS, the exact same thing happens via a verbal and mental chess game of wits between Mamuwalde and Justin.

The assault on the mansion is vastly similar as well. The cops engage in a literal "stakeout" against the small army of male and female vampires. This scene is also edited very well. While the ritual between Mamuwalde and Lisa is going on in another room, the ominous beating of drums is heard on the soundtrack intercut with the cops battling the bloodsuckers. One impressive shot has a policeman in the foreground as a vampire literally floats up behind him. This reverse siege (usually it's the monsters laying siege to the stronghold) is the best part of the film.

It's also at the end where Mamuwalde shockingly, and mockingly accepts his "slave name" of Blacula. Dracula cursed him with it and to hear the pronouncement come out of his mouth is a powerful moment in the movie. After the ritual to send him back fails once Lisa's boyfriend Justin busts into the room, Mamuwalde goes crazy and knocks him unconscious. She reluctantly agrees to start the ceremony again elsewhere, but once the vampire takes out a slew of cops, she wants him to stay away from her. Justin then enters the room and calls to him, "Mamuwalde", to which the angered vampire says, "The name is Blacula!" At this point a brief battle of voodoo vs. vampire begins.

Like the first movie, the social issues of racism and anti-establishment plot points that dominated most blaxploitation movies are mostly absent here. There's one sequence where Mamuwalde is wandering the city streets late at night, observing the porn peepshow shops and passing up the advances of a prostitute when he's confronted by two pimps (one played by Bob Minor). They demand he hand over his "bread", or they're going to kick his ass. Delivered in Marshall's wonderfully aristocratic delivery, he states he has no bread with him and states in long form the consequences that "kicking his ass" will bring. He then scolds the two men for imitating their slave masters through their criminal actions instead of taking the high road to obtain the "bread" they seek. 

This brief scene is a striking dichotomy when put up against the escapist racism of most black action pictures that made those movies so outrageous and made their heroes even more righteous. Again, like BLACULA before it, race relations are stable between whites and blacks as both are shown working together. This relationship is most strong between Justin and his former boss, Lt. Dunlop (played by Michael Conrad, a familiar face from dozens of television programs). Both Conrad and Mitchell have some funny interplay between them.

"You are never to leave this house without my permission. Your only justification for crawling on this Earth is to serve me. Understand me well. If you ever dare to disobey, I will slice into your chest and pull your worthless life out."

As mentioned above, the character of Mamuwalde is more vicious here, and only ever given a hint of sympathy during the last half via a dialog exchange where he states to Lisa his actions are beyond his control. Marshall defines formidability sinking his teeth into the role this second go round; and he's even better at being menacing than even Christopher Lee was in any of his Hammer interpretations. His vampire is also a bit more physical than Lee's was, showing an eagerness to lift his opponents into the air, or toss them through windows.

His dialog is elucidated wryly at times, and pertinently threatening on more than a few occasions. The showdown between the vampire prince and the good guys in the bowels of a factory in the first movie is replicated here more intensely, but any audience identification with the vampire is erased save for some minor commiseration during the final moments.

Pam Grier was back onscreen after blazing a name for herself the month prior to SBS's release in COFFY (1973), only her role here is the polar opposite of the vengeful angel of that film. Lisa is extremely passive, yet honorable. Grier shows a striking amount of emotional range between the two films, and in some ways, she comes off better from an acting perspective here. Her role here is no comic book creation, she's more of a real woman. No doubt Grier is preferred blowing away the bad guys, but as Lisa she shows what she's capable of outside the WIP/action heroine persona she'd entertained since 1970.

Richard Lawson gives a spirited performance as Willis, the son of the dead voodoo priestess. From the opening sequence, we can see he isn't a very civil minded person and brings his humiliation onto himself. His character -- who resurrects Mamuwalde for a revenge that's never enacted -- comprises the sporadic comedic element found here. Choice moments include his discovery he can no longer see himself in the mirror and, after Mamuwalde decrees no one is to harm Lisa, Willis boldly proclaims what he intends to do to her oblivious to the prince standing behind him.

Don Mitchell (familiar to 70s TV show fans from his recurring role on IRONSIDE) arguably does more with his role here than Thalmus Rasulala did in the previous movie, but with less charisma. Mitchell's character of Justin Carter represents an even more successful black man in a world making ground where issues of racial equality are concerned. Unlike Rasulala's scientist, Mitchell plays a former policeman, now retired and the owner of a publishing firm. He lives in an extravagant home replete with numerous African artifacts. Rasulala never got to go mano a mano with Mamuwalde the way Mitchell does, but the latter fails to pull off the charisma despite delivering a more spirited performance.

The musical score is uninspired here, and nowhere near the catchy tunes of the previous movie. But then, BLACULA had The Hues Corporation and SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM has no band featured save for some soul tunes heard in the background during the party sequence. The score itself is reminiscent of the YORGA series with its understated cues, but these too lack punch. The only composition that stands out is the voodoo beats that play over the climax. 

Of minor note, the end credits list Craig Nelson as 'Sarge', but I didn't see him anywhere in the film. Nelson was a bumbling cop in Kelljan's RETURN OF COUNT YORGA (1971) as well as finding fame for his role as the father in the POLTERGEIST series and on the successful television series, COACH. 

Despite having some great moments of spookery, SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM is an average film compared to the original. That Pam Grier is the co-star is reason enough to watch it. As it is, this sequel's major coup of respectability is in the performance of William Marshall who yet again gives his body and soul to this role. It's a shame Mamuwalde was not brought back to life a third time, or, better yet, a series that went the length of Hammer's Dracula productions.

This review is representative of the MGM DVD.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Blacula (1972) review


William Marshall (Mamuwalde/Blacula), Vonetta McGee (Tina/Luva), Thalmus Rasulala (Dr. Gordon Thomas), Denise Nicholas (Michelle), Gordon Pinsent (Lt. Peters), Charles Macaulay (Count Dracula)

Directed by William Crain

"You shall pay, black prince. I shall place a suffering on you that will doom you to a living hell... a hunger! A wild, gnawing, animal hunger will grow in you... a hunger for human blood. Here you will starve for an eternity... torn by an unquenchable lust. I curse you with my name! You shall be... Blacula..."

The Short Version: William Marshall is bloody brilliant as the title bloodsucker in an interpretation that's presented as more tragic than the average teeth-in-neck extravaganza. Modeled on the COUNT YORGA template, it's been tweaked into a unique vampire movie dressed up as a blaxploitation film. Easily among the best horrors of that decade boldly anchored by the mesmerizing Marshall. It's occasionally cumbersome, and dated, but Crain makes it work along with his remarkable star. Did I mention William Marshall is brilliant? There's nothing anemic here. BLACULA has much blood coursing through its celluloid veins. 

In 1780 Transylvania, Prince Mamuwalde dines with Count Dracula to seek his help in abolishing the European slave trade. The Count has no intentions of doing that, nor allowing the Prince and his wife Luva to leave his castle alive. Enslaving the Prince by vampirizing him, Dracula entombs Mamuwalde in a hidden room locked in a coffin to starve for all eternity with Luva left to die with him. Flash forward to modern day 1972, two interior decorators purchase a number of artifacts from Dracula's castle, including the coffin containing Mamuwalde. Shipped back to Los Angeles, the vampire Prince awakens, and as fate would have it, he finds what appears to be the living embodiment of his long dead love, Luva.

William Crain's interpretation of DRACULA was the natural progression for the black cinema movement of the 70s, which was still riding high in 1972 with such notable action dramas as BLACK CAESAR, ACROSS 110TH STREET and TROUBLE MAN. There hadn't yet been a horror film with a black lead, so this was the perfect time, as was the casting of stage and screen actor William Marshall.

What's of special note regarding BLACULA is that, while it does present stereotypes some might find offensive in the mollycoddling society we live in today (the flaming homosexual interior decorators), it's pretty balanced where its race relations are concerned. Aside from the opening seven minutes showing the real Count Dracula as a racist slaver, there's nary a bit of the anti-establishment ethos that defined the bulk of these movies born out of the socio-economic times of the 1960s and 70s -- most notably the Civil Rights Movement.

The script (from Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig -- their only documented credits are the two BLACULA movies) lightly touches all the bases of the blaxploitation genre, but never dwells on them. There's slight humor derived from a black funeral service owner slighting Rasulala's character in private as the "rudest nigger I ever seen in my life", Rasulala referring to Blacula's first two victims as "faggots" and Lt. Peters attributing the murders to possible Black Panther involvement. Otherwise, Crain's film stays its course as a horror movie first, in what amounts to a serious envisioning of a modern day Dracula as essayed via mostly black performers.

It's difficult to label this as a bonafide blaxploitation movie (for me, that is) since it strives to be more than that. Imagine how different BLACULA would have turned out had it been more interested in parlaying the escapist entertainment of other films, and the exploitation potential the film contained: "BLACULA -- A soul brother bloodsucker puts the bite on white! Blacula! He stalks the city streets seeking revenge on the man!" The movie never settles on being straight exploitation and it would be difficult to imagine the esteemed Marshall essaying a comic book approach in the vein of Jim Brown or Fred Williamson. One gets the impression AIP wanted one movie, and either Crain or Marshall wanted something else entirely. So what we have is a curious blend of an alternative Dracula tale occasionally yielding, but never succumbing to blaxploitation conventions.

A couple years earlier, AIP had scored a major box office winner with COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE (1970), a creepy modern day vampire yarn from director Bob Kelljan that clicked with audiences. A virtual remake followed in 1971 that was even more polished with some new additions to the mix. In 1972, AIP would appear to have taken the YORGA blueprint and refurbished it as a horror film with a predominantly black cast. They ended up with another winner on their hands that led to an inevitable sequel.

Hammer Films would follow suit with their own modern Dracula with DRACULA AD 1972 (1972) and enjoy less success with their result. BLACULA is a stand out amongst vampire cinema, and not solely for having a black actor in the lead. Speaking of 70s Hammer, BLACULA features vampires who immediately become the undead after being bitten, while others stay dead for a time before returning. This is never explained, of course.

There's a hint of racial subtext regarding the blacks Mamuwalde fought to free in the 18th century and those he encounters in the modern times. It's not explicit, but in Marshall's mannerisms of the character. This is noticeable in the club sequences when Mamuwalde is confronted by Skillet (Jitu Cumbuka). His more mannered, respectable demeanor seems to be at odds with Skillet and his more laid back, playful, "jive-talkin" style. Skillet speaks to him a few times, but Mamuwalde simply ignores him, or just nods with a slight grin on his face. This would be explored in a more direct fashion in the sequel, SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM (1973) when Blacula is confronted late at night on the street by two pimps.

Crain's film isn't so much interested in social themes as it is presenting an ethnic version of Stoker's classic and there couldn't have been a better acting choice than William Marshall with his deep baritone voice and commanding presence. Unlike so many Dracula interpretations, Marshall's is among the few sympathetic portrayals. The ending is totally unlike what you'd find in your typical bloodsucker movie. Paul Naschy's sole Dracula interpretation also from 1972 features a similar climax.

Mamuwalde is a tragic character if there ever was one. The curse placed on him by Dracula and the indignation both he and his Luva are subjected to are reason enough for audience identification. Once he finds his reincarnated love, he refuses to force his bite on her, preferring her to willingly accept it. Most of the scenes they share together, you almost forget that Mamuwalde is no longer among the living. We're reminded by the slew of corpses in his wake.

The make up design for the vampires is genuinely creepy, although the pronounced fangs making the vamps look like sabre-toothed tigers sometimes looks goofy. Regarding Blacula's vampire design, when he turns into full on vampire mode, he has these peculiar patches of hair aligning his cheekbones. It's definitely unique and grabs ones attention. He also transforms into a giant bat (via animation) during the last half.

The make up for the many other blood-drinking minions have that YORGA look about them looking far more dead than the average pallor of vampirized victims in these movies. There's some choice stunt work here, as well. The warehouse attack sequence is especially impressive resulting in a fiery finish as both Rasulala's Dr. Brown, Lt. Peters (Gordon Pinsent) and a clutch of officers search for Blacula.

By the way, Blacula is only referred to by that name once, and that's during the opening Transylvania sequence after Count Dracula vampirizes him (and again briefly during a voiceover as Mamuwalde remembers what the Count said to him). For the rest of the movie he's called by his name, Mamuwalde.

"I've lived again, to lose you twice."

When he's not putting the fangs to the necks of the supporting cast, William Marshall brings something to the part of Mamuwalde lacking from virtually every other portrayal of this classic role. He brings a humanistic quality to this accursed, undead creature. As mentioned elsewhere, while there are noticeable plot holes, Marshall's performance is the life's blood that holds it all together.  

Marshall was a stage and screen actor of much repute. A prominent singer and Shakespearean performer, he did very few movies in a lead capacity, but did do a nice selection of guest star roles on Television shows. Of these his role as Dr. Daystrom on the season two episode of the original STAR TREK ('The Ultimate Computer'), and his villainous turn as Alamek in the season four episode of THE WILD, WILD WEST ('The Night of the Egyptian Queen') are of special mention. He returned as Mamuwalde in 1973s SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM co-starring Pam Grier. He also played the exorcist in ABBY (1974), the black version of THE EXORCIST (1973).

Thalmus Rasulala (born Jack Crowder) is the determined investigative scientist, Dr. Brown. He's fine here, but his delivery seldom display much in the way of emotional range. The actor will be familiar to fans of this genre and 70s television programs. His role here as a scientist represents one of achievement despite the strife and racism blacks had overcome the previous decade. He has a respectable and cordial working relationship with the white police officers he collaborates with, and unlike most films of this genre, we see them working together; although Rasulala is clearly "in charge" throughout. Rasulala also played the nemesis to Fred Williamson in BUCKTOWN and Pam Grier's object of desire as a wealthy businessman in FRIDAY FOSTER (both 1975).

Vonetta McGee is a beautiful actress with a mesmerizing face and stunning eyes. I never thought much of her as an actress, but she lights up a room nonetheless. She had quite a career beginning on a strong note with the spectacularly downbeat Euro-western THE GREAT SILENCE (1968). She also had roles in HAMMER (1972), DETROIT 9000 (1973) and the TV terror of THE NORLISS TAPES (1973) among others.


The music by Gene Page -- a well known name in the music industry of the day -- is also noteworthy. It wasn't uncommon -- in this genre -- to see a band playing that would eventually go on to big things. In this case, it's The Hues Corporation, who, in 1974 had a massive hit with 'Rock the Boat'. They contributed three songs to the BLACULA film score and can be seen in the two club sequences over the course of the movie.

William Crain tried his hand at horror for the second and last time with DR. BLACK AND MR. HYDE in 1976; a lesser film that was more in the blaxploitation style. BLACULA has its silly moments and its dated 70s fashion and decor, but it's also occasionally creepy (especially the morgue sequence with an unthawed vampire and a hook handed Elisha Cook Jr!); and possesses a stoic performance by William Marshall holding it all together. The finale is exceptional as is the tragic, unusual ending. For 70s and horror enthusiasts, BLACULA is worth sinking your teeth into.

This review is representative of the MGM DVD.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Black Sabbath With the Three Faces of Fear: Comparing Bava's Classic With Its US Counterpart

Mario Bava's I TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA (1963) is one of the true crowning achievements of European horror cinema. The film -- in its unaltered form -- represents a range of Gothic horror styles including a then burgeoning genre that would explode with black gloved precision by the 70s -- the Giallo.

But prior to its release in America, American International Pictures (one of the pictures financiers) had changes made. These changes not only toned down some of the horror and gore, but also eliminated any sexual subtext found in Bava's original version. The following is merely a guide and visual aid in detailing all the major (and minor) differences found between the two releases.

At the bottom of this article there's a summary of everything discussed here, since the American print has been confusingly compiled. Essentially, this addendum is a 'cliff's notes' of BLACK SABBATH with additional info not covered in the article (ie running times, titles, etc.).

At the beginning of both movies, the first thing we see is Boris Karloff. In the Italian version, it's Karloff standing on some rocky terrain flanked by a backdrop of swirling blue lights as he introduces himself (top pic at left).

For the US release, the opening statement is roughly the same, but with Karloff's disembodied head coming closer into frame. He never refers to himself by name as he does in the Italian cut, but calls the film by name with, "...this is BLACK SABBATH....". Aside from that, there's very little variance in this introductory segment between the two versions. However, the US AIP release contains Karloff in THRILLER mode hosting the three tales delivering an introduction before each one begins. For the European cut, Karloff is only seen hosting the opening, and ending of the movie. And now, on with the show!

When AIP released Bava's movie on American shores, the order of the tales was shuffled around. I am speculating when I say they seem to have wanted to open and close the film with a bang; relegating the weaker segment for the middle. So the story that CLOSES the Italian version OPENS the US variant -- that story being the 'The Drop of Water' segment; a 22 minute spooktacular creeper that remains one of the single eeriest pieces of celluloid of all time.

But before we take a drink of water, it's time to check that telephone... 

"We can say all we like about ghosts, but we really still don't know how or where they may appear. (phone rings. Karloff answers)... yes, yes, yes, I know all about that. In the old days, they used to drag their chains through the icy corridors of castles or stalk through the musty rooms of deserted houses. But now, ha... you never where you'll find one of the terrible things... as you will see from our next story... 'The Telephone'."--Karloff's narration introducing the second story in the US cut of BLACK SABBATH, but the first in the original Italian version.

As 'The Telephone' begins, Rosy enters her apartment to no musical accompaniment in the Italian cut; and to the tune of Les Baxter's score for the US cut. You'll quickly discover that Baxter generously peppers the American version of BLACK SABBATH with lots of music where it was mostly subdued in the original version of the film. As Rosy begins to disrobe, her phone rings a few times to which nobody responds when she says hello. About the time she re-enters the room to answer upon the third call with but a towel-bathrobe around her, this discrepancy in dialog occurs...


Stranger (Frank): You're so beautiful... too beautiful, Rosy.

Rosy: Who is this?

Stranger: You'll know right before you die. I can see your heavenly body. Your silky arms... your perfect legs. No, don't cover them up. A body like yours can drive a man to madness. And I will kill you!


Stranger (Frank): Hello, Rosy. How are you?

Rosy: Who is this speaking? Who?

Stranger: Don't you know? Think, Rosy. How nice you look with that towel around you. You always did have a beautiful body... beautiful. A body to drive someone crazy. No, don't cover yourself. I like seeing you this way. Are you listening, Rosy?

As you can surmise from the dialog, the intent of the person on the phone is detailed right from the start as well as the sexual nature of this episode -- such as when the camera lovingly caresses downward on Michele Mercier's fabulous frame. However, certain aspects of the sexual subtext are drastically altered in the US cut.

As Rosy hangs up the phone, there's another major difference here between the two versions.


After hanging up the phone, Rosy (now wearing a gown) lays her towel, or bathrobe on her bed as she sits down (left side of top pic). The camera cuts in close to show her smoking a cigarette. She looks over to the phone as the camera slowly zooms in on it. No music is heard. The ticking of a clock is heard in the background. She gets up and begins to pull back the blankets on her bed when the phone rings again. Nicolosi's music is absent the duration of this sequence.


After hanging up the phone, Rosy, now wearing a gown under her bathrobe (right side of top pic), removes the bathrobe and places it in a chair next to her bed. She then moves to the living room and grabs a cigarette from a table, lights it up and takes a drag on it. She then goes to the window and closes the shutters all the way. Les Baxter's score is heard the entire time. Unlike the other episodes, it matches, and sound of a similar nature to Nicolosi's cues on the Italian version. She goes back to the center of the living room and smokes some more as the camera slowly zooms in on the phone. From here, the Italian sequence described above begins.

She answers the phone and here's an example of the difference in this second phone conversation.


Rosy: What do you want from me?

Stranger: I told you! I want to kill you. I want revenge. You did well to turn on all the lights. I want to see you die. Do you understand, Rosy?


Rosy: What do you want of me?

Stranger: Everything... everything that you have. But for now I just want you to take off that dressing gown. I want to watch you... embrace you with my eyes. See you!

There's a third phone conversation that's roughly the same between the two cuts, but oddly enough, the US version continues to eliminate any explicit plans that this mysterious man on the other end intends to kill Rosy. The dialog is of a sexually threatening nature whereas in the Italian cut, the caller is very clear he plans to kill her. 

Immediately following this, there's a sequence not found in the Italian version. After Rosy runs to her door upon hearing a noise, the camera cuts to outside her apartment. An old man exits the building to take his dog for a walk. As the man passes the camera, the dog barks and the old man tells him to be quiet that they are alone outside. Yet, once the man and dog are out of frame, we see a shadow appear in the background creeping towards the building (see insert photo). The English version then cuts back to the inside of Rosy's dwellings (where the Italian one remains). She looks down and notices someone has slipped a note under her door.

Another difference occurs right after she spies the note in the US cut. Rosy inexplicably, and hurriedly unlocks her door to rush out of her apartment. She runs into the old man who notices she's distressed. After speaking with him momentarily, she then rushes back inside her apartment and we see the old man reluctantly go upstairs with his dog (see above photo).

Both versions then pick back up at the moment Rosy reaches down to pick up this letter slipped under her door. And here is where yet another major alteration is made.

In the European release, it's clearly a newspaper clipping that reads 'Frank Rainer has escaped'. For the US release, it's obvious she's holding the same clipping, yet there's a cutaway that reveals a blank piece of paper. Suddenly, words begin to magically write themselves on the paper. It reads, 'There's no way of avoiding it Rosy -- it won't be long now! Frank'. It's at this moment in the US cut that a supernatural angle is introduced.

After this revelation, the phone rings again resulting in a conversation that is similar between the two versions albeit for Rosy's response in the US cut -- her dialog reinforcing the supernatural angle AIP implemented on this story...


Rosy: Frank, listen... listen to me, Frank!


Rosy: Frank is dead! This can't be Frank!

After Frank hangs up, Rosy then puts in a call to her friend Mary. A bit of dialog from the actress playing Mary during this conversation is edited from, or not dubbed over for the US cut, "You said you didn't want to see or speak to me anymore." This then leads into more differences in the storyline between the two versions detailed in this phone conversation below...


Rosy: Frank has escaped.

Mary: Yes, I read about it. So why you telling me? Now you two will get back together.

Rosy: Mary, cut it out! I'm scared! He wants revenge, I'm sure of it! Come over right away, please.

Mary: You want me to come to you? Did I hear correctly?

Rosy: Yes, yes. As fast you can. He wants to kill me!

Mary: Alright, honey. I don't bear grudges. Give me five minutes.

Rosy: Thank you. Hurry.


Rosy: Mary, it's important. Frank just called me!

Mary: What are you talking about? You worry me. You know as well as I do he's dead.

Rosy (Cut to Mary's room): No, he's alive!

Mary: Take it easy.

Rosy: Oh, Mary, Mary, I'm afraid. He wants to get even, I know he does! Come over here, right away, please! (Cut to Mary's room) You can't imagine the things he said when he spoke to me!

Mary: What? He spoke to you? Did I hear you right?

Rosy: Yes, yes, I beg you, come right away, he's been threatening me!

Mary: Alright, I'm coming. I don't have any hard feelings. I will be over right away.

Rosy: Thanks. Hurry.

After Rosy hangs up, there's yet another huge change in both cuts of the film. Below are the two sets of dialog...


Frank: Rosy, why did you go and call your friend, Mary? Are you hoping she can help you? Did you think I wouldn't hear? You spoke in a whisper, but it's no use. Because I'm close, I told you. Very close. Call whoever you want, Rosy. It's all of no use. Even if you had an army around you. By dawn, you'll be dead. Do you hear me, Rosy? By dawn... you will be dead!


Frank: Why did you call our old friend, Mary? How she loved me. But I gave her up for you! So you can turn me in! Call whoever you want to. It won't help because... you'll be dead before dawn!

This is one of, if not the most significant change in this tale; aside from the supernatural element evident solely in the US version. The above dialog exchange from the Euro cut reveals the actual nature of the phone calls, as well as hinting further at the lesbian angle that's totally eliminated from the US version. As you can tell by the above English dubbed dialog exchange, it's noticeably briefer, and also hints at a confusing love triangle from beyond the grave.

After Rosy hangs up the phone, she then goes about cutting on all the lights in her home. She is startled by a knock at the door just as Mary announces herself. Rosy lets Mary in and she begins talking about how her home has changed little since she was there last. Mary also lets it be known that she used to pay her former lover Rosy a visit on a frequent basis. In the English dubbed print, it cuts from Rosy hanging up the phone immediately to Mary already in her apartment having a drink. Again, hints of lesbianism are removed.

During their conversation, more differences in dialog occur -- Italian version: Frank has been calling Rosy all night since his prison break. English version: Frank has been dead for three months, but has come back from the dead for revenge. It's worth mentioning that this is one of the few times we hear subtle cues of Nicolosi's score in the Euro print and no music additions at all from Baxter on the US cut.

It's also during the above mentioned conversation that the lesbian angle is made fairly obvious in the Euro version, and notice how the dialog is tweaked in the US cut...


Mary: He always knew about us. But what he doesn't know is that you swore never to see me again.


Mary: Don't, don't think about it. Listen to me... what you need is to go to bed and relax.

After Mary gets Rosy to go to sleep with the help of a sleeping pill, some lighting effects reveal a passage of time. There's a longer tracking shot in the Italian version panning over to Mary writing a confessional letter. The letter translated from the Italian release reads as follows:

"Dear Rosy, I'm sorry I frightened you so. But it was the only way for me to get you to reconsider your decision that caused me such pain. Reading about Frank's escape gave me the idea. The voice you heard... was mine. Don't hate me for it. Was seeing me again really so bad?"

In the US cut, the letter is Mary detailing that while she's out cold from the sleeping pill, she intends to get Rosy some psychiatric help since she believes Frank has returned to kill her from beyond the grave. You can see the differences in the side-by-side photo above.

While she's reading over her letter, Frank suddenly appears and sneaks up behind Mary and begins choking her with a stocking. This scene is longer in the Italian version including a shot of Frank strangling Mary while she's still in the chair prior to falling to the floor (see photo above).

In the US release, it cuts to Rosy waking up, then back to Mary, who is now already on the floor.

The Italian release then cuts to a close up of Rosy's petrified face. She covers her mouth. The film then cuts back to Frank finishing off Mary. He turns her corpse over and says, "Damn you! Always where you shouldn't be!" All this, of course, is missing from the US cut (see insert photo of missing shot). That last line from Frank reaffirms the lesbian angle. Both versions then pick up with Frank rising from the floor, but not without some additions to the American variant that close out this confusing segment...

As Frank approaches Rosy in her bed, the US version adds some dialog (spoken off camera) where none is present in the Euro cut -- "No, no, Frank! It's not you! You're dead! Don't you understand! You're dead!!"

Both versions feature Rosy stabbing Frank (ghosts can bleed after all!) with a knife hidden under her pillow. The camera carefully pans from her bed over to the phone with the handset off the hook. The US cut adds dialog from Frank voicing one last threat from beyond, emanating from the receiver -- "Rosy, Rosy... you can't kill me. I'll always be here -- close to you. I'll be talking to you every night. No matter where you are... I'll be calling you... on the telephone!"

After that, there's a forced zoom into the phone as Rosy apparently screams off camera, and so ends this segment on the US release. For the original version (see pic above), the camera continues to pan past the phone giving us one last look at Mary's lifeless body lying on the floor. All we hear are the sounds of Nicolosi's jazzy score and the tone of the phone off the hook.

There are some puzzling things about this weak story (in the US cut, anyways). It seems AIP was content with maintaining the shows sexual angle so long as the lesbianism was excised completely. The phone calls in the US variant are highly sexual in the dialog, although the hint of bodily harm brought to Rosy is merely felt in Frank's voice; unlike the Euro version, where Rosy's murder is bluntly stated, and at the top of Frank's list.

Another curiosity about the US cut of this segment is that Rosy never once mentions to Mary the letter that formed sentences all on its own -- not in the dubbing, or even an exclusive scene (this film does have its share of alternate takes). Apparently there just wasn't enough time to adjust this tale to appease AIP, or they simply didn't want to spend the extra money to make this story more in the horror realm, opting instead to do what they could via editing and dubbing. The stabbing of Frank, who's supposed to be a ghost, is also curious. But then, that last added phone call (through a headset off its receiver!) alerts us that Frank will indeed be back.

"And now a few words about vampires! Usually they live in Central Europe. Some people say they only leave their coffins at night... and they cannot see themselves in mirrors (clears throat). Some people deny all these things. But everyone agrees on one thing -- they live on blood! This then from a novel by Evan Tolstoy is the story of the Wurdulaks... vampires who live only on the blood of those they love!"--Karloff introducing the third segment in the US cut of BLACK SABBATH. It's the second tale in the European release.

As this story begins, the horror of the US version is immediately throttled by Baxter's bombastic assault on the soundtrack. As good as his music is, it doesn't serve this picture very well, especially if you're already familiar with the subdued, yet creepily ominous cues of Roberto Nicolosi. The Wurdulak (Wurdalak in the subtitles) episode is the only segment of BLACK SABBATH (Italian version) where Nicolosi delivers some strong, yet powerfully somber orchestral cues that come close to matching the sonic attacks of Baxter's work; the latter of which sucks the horror right out of this episode. Nicolosi's score is superior all the way, mind you, and Baxter's contribution -- as it applies to 'The Wurdulak' -- is strong, if seemingly out of place at times. The main theme for this episode is also heard during the opening credits on the Euro release.

'The Wurdulak'  hasn't been on but a minute and there's already some alterations during Mark Damon's gallop across the eerie, wintery European plains. His ride is longer, more extensive in the US cut. As he crosses a patch of snow covered land, he spies a trail of blood in the snow. He then sees a horse atop a mountain. Damon's character (Count Vladimir) rides to the top of the precipice. We then see a medium shot of the horse with a body draped over it -- a body with a knife in its back. Count Vladimir then catches up with the horse (now situated by a stream) and its lifeless cargo and this is where both cuts pick up synonymously. Vladimir then finds an isolated cottage where he meets Giorgio and Pietro, two brothers living with their family awaiting the arrival of the family patriarch, Gorca.

When Vladimir and Giorgio run out to inspect the headless corpse that had the dagger in its back, they discover the body is gone. They then see Pietro (Giorgio's brother) run over to the corpse (we learn it's the body of a Wurdulak named Olibek!), lying at the gated entrance, and run his sword through it. The following line of dialog is missing, or edited out of the US cut, "I ran my sword through his heart. Now he can't hurt anyone anymore."

Another bit of dialog cut from the US release (uttered from Pietro at Vladimir) more or less reiterates the same thing, is as follows...

Pietro (Peter in US cut): You saw me, I ran through his heart. You should have done it.

Vladimir: I should have done it? Why on Earth?

From there, both versions introduce the first utterance of a Wurdulak, a vampiric creature that's described in graphic detail (Italian version; less so in the US cut) later on. 

Once the action shifts to the cottage, we see Sdenka (Sdenya in US cut) fixing Vladimir some dinner. As she does this, we get this off camera dialog reading from Giorgio (Italian version only) explaining their fathers search for Olibek (Alibeq on Anchor Bay's subs). The same scene plays out in the US version, but without any dialog (see what was cut below) and replaced with Baxter's music...

Giorgio (Gregor in US cut): We lived in fear. No one was safe and the number of victims grew day by day. Any other scourge would have been easier to bear.

The dialog in the US cut begins with Vladimir now in frame with Giorgio (Pietro in background) continuing his talk about his father and Olibek. There's yet another difference in this scene -- not in any missing dialog, but as Vladimir offers a toast to the death of the evil Olibek. The US release contains a shot of Vladimir in camera saying his lines whereas in the Euro cut, we only hear him state it OFF CAMERA as the film cuts between the worried facial expressions of the family (see photos below).

After both films sync up again, there's another cut to Vladimir stating his bewilderment as to why the family isn't happy that Olibek is no more. Oddly enough, the Euro version cuts to the fear filled face of Sdenka by the fire place, her eyes moodily highlighted by the lighting while Vladimir utters his dialog off camera. The two shots of Damon in the set of photos above are exclusive to the US cut.

Following this, there's the sound of a clock heralding the new hour. The camera cuts between the faces of the family and back to Vladimir who is noticeably confused at the somber, frightened faces as the chime strikes 9pm. It's here where the two versions sync once more, but there's some slight differences in the dialog. The US cut states their father has but ONE hour to return home (at 10 o'clock), while the Italian version states he has TWO hours to get home (at midnight). For whatever reason, there's a time difference between the two cuts in relation to this most important plot point.

The following scene when Sdenka shows Vladimir to his quarters reveals an alternate take between the two versions. Notice the camera positioning and the slightly different stance of Sdenka in the photos above. Her description of a Wurdulak to him is also longer in the European version as detailed below...


Sdenka: If you had been born in these parts, you would be afraid even say the word. I'll tell you what it means. The Wurdulaks are bloodthirsty corpses. They yearn for the blood of those they loved most when they were alive.

Vladimir: Sdenka, you can't really believe that old legend.

Sdenka: You say that, but the legend is true. The more they've loved someone, the more they long to kill them... to suck their blood. Those killed in this way also become Wurdulak until someone manages to stab them in the heart.


Sdenka (Sdenya in US cut): Even if anyone pronounces the word, something in us trembles in terrible horror. A Wurdulak is a corpse. It's a cadaver always seeking blood... the blood of the living. So now you know, my lord.

Vladimir's initial response in the Italian cut is missing in the US release. The two versions then sync up with Vladimir asking Sdenka about the five days their father allotted himself to return after slaying Olibek. The scene following has the group gathering before the fireplace as the clock chimes away. And yes, the clock strikes 12 in the Euro, and only 10 in the US cut.

As Gorca (Karloff) approaches his home, there's an added sound effect of his dog growling at him (US cut), although we never see the dog. It's worth mentioning the sounds of the dog are different in the two versions as well. The Italian version has the more traditional, old-fashioned spooky dog howling, while the US cut sounds more ghostly.

The moment we get our first zoom-in close up of Gorca, revealing it to be Boris Karloff, Nicolosi gives us a musical sting whereas the Baxter score, curiously stays neutral with no rise in tempo.

After Gorca orders Giorgio to shoot his dog for its incessant howling, he asks to hold his grandson. While he caresses the boy by the fire, we hear a gunshot go off. The US cut adds a yelp from the dog after it's shot. In the Italian cut, we only hear the gunshot. What follows is a brief bit of dialog from Gorca that's cut from the American release (see insert photo above). Gorca, looking rather hungrily at his grandson says, "Come, Ivan. Give Grandpa a big kiss!"

The next alteration is a curious one. It involves Gorca toying with both his family and Vladimir as to whether or not Olibek is indeed dead. After all, it was a headless corpse! Gorca proceeds to remove a severed head from his satchel, gleefully showcasing it for his family and Vladimir. What's unique about this scene is that not only are the two shots of Gorca holding the head removed from the US version, but it also appears to be an alternate take. Notice the difference in the background. Also, in the Euro version, Gorca slings the head out of frame with one hand and in the US version, you only ever see the hair sticking out from the satchel, which he tosses aside with both hands. Even so, the shot of the decapitated noggin swinging from a post away from the house is intact in both versions.

When it becomes obvious to the audience that Gorca is indeed a Wurdulak, there's a scene where we see him skulking around the cottage in what amounts to him stalking his prey. Once he sets his sights on his grandson, the scene where he steals him away from his bed goes on longer in the US version. We see Gorca looking around before approaching the bed. Of course, Baxter's music is more pronounced than the Euro cut where Nicolosi's quieter cues are complimented by the blowing wind outside.

After escaping into the night with the boy, Giorgio pursues Gorca on horseback begging him to return his son. There's an additional shot from behind some thickets showing a silhouette of the horse galloping through the blackened night (top left pic). When Giorgio pursues on foot through the woods, there are different shots for this brief foot chase (top right--US version). The scene also goes on longer in the Italian release. We see Giorgio find a blood trail in the snow. The US version cuts away to Sdenka looking out the window right after the wide shot of Giorgio running through the woods (bottom left--US; bottom right--Italian).

The shot of Sdenka looking out the window is not in the Euro version. There's also a brief snippet of dialog when Vladimir enters the room and startles her to which he says, "I'm sorry I frightened you." After that, both films once again sync up.

Upon retrieving little Ivan's dead body, the scene where his mother Maria weeps over his corpse is different in both movies. Judging by the movement, and positioning of the actors, alternate takes were done here, too. The only major difference outside of Baxter's abrasive music is that Maria's crying leading up to her outburst is longer, more dramatic, and contains more build up in the US release (top pic at right). Even so, the Euro version comes off better yet again, and even more so without any music save for the sound of the ominous wind outside. The horror is more pronounced in Bava's original version.

After the dramatic sequence described above, there's an extended shot of Vladimir, seen in shadow from outside, walking towards a door (US cut). Inconsequential, but as he makes his way outside to sneak out with Sdenka, both versions offer there own style of music or sound effects. There's also a longer take on the front of the cottage as we hear the two ride away on Vladimir's horse off camera (Italian version).

The scene where Giorgio and Maria are awakened to the spectral cries of "mama" from their dead son Ivan in the Italian version is audibly different in the US cut. Instead of hearing the vampirized child call out to his mother (the dubbing does say it, just not till Giorgio's perspective looking out the window) from the start, we hear the familiar ghostly wailing heard at other points during the movie.

When the film cuts to Vladimir and Sdenka riding through the countryside, they stop at an old convent. The dubbed print has a line of dialog not in the Euro print...

Vladimir: We'll spend the night here. At daybreak, we'll go on to Gersey.

Once they delve further into the monastery, there's dialog IN THE EURO PRINT that's not in the English dubbed version. There figures are darkened from the lighting, so you can't see their mouths move, anyways...

Vladimir: Come, don't be afraid. We'll be safe in this old convent.

Sdenka: We should have kept going.

Vladimir: We're far away. The horse is tired.

They wander further through the dilapidated temple when a simple line is uttered from Vladimir, "I think we'll be safe in here." This is not heard in the Italian cut. It doesn't matter much since Damon has his face turned away from the camera, so this line was simply dubbed over by taking advantage of the shot.

After finding the skeletal remains of a corpse, they explore further. Once more, there's some dialog snuck in, this time on the Euro version. Vladimir tells Sdenka to "Wait here". This isn't heard on the US version. During this entire sequence, both versions have been trading on bits of dialog.

After Gorca goes after his daughter, she is beckoned to awaken from her sleep. Journeying outside the monastery, she confronts her father. Interestingly enough, in the Italian release, Sdenka is startled by Gorca calling out her name. while in the US version, SHE calls out to him first. There's some minor extended dialog during this sequence when she's surrounded by her now entirely vampirized family. The line "Why did you leave us?" is repeatedly dubbed over in the English print, but absent in the Italian one. When the scene cuts to a creaking door inside the monastery, Sdenka's scream is heard on the Italian soundtrack, but missing from the US one.

Upon discovering Sdenka is gone, Vladimir rides back to her family cottage. His careful approach to the front of the house is longer in the US version. His search of the house is also longer in the North American cut. The entering of Sdenka's room upstairs is also longer. Vladimir enters more quickly in the Euro cut.

The final dialog between the two doomed lovers has some variance, an added word or two, but nothing major. However, the shot of Maria, Ivan and Gorca watching them from the window is a zoom-in on the US cut while the Italian one, the camera simply cuts to a close up of them in the window. 

The US version also features a brief shot of Vladimir's horse attempting to escape before cutting to the dark, muddy road leading to the cottage. Bizarrely enough, the final shot of the English dubbed print shows the horse galloping off, disappearing into the fog. The Italian version simply fades out on the wind-swept road.

This episode is the most visually impressive. Unlike 'The Telephone' segment, this one has no drastic alterations in tone, but lots of alternate takes and editing and adding bits of dialog. It also benefits from having Boris Karloff playing a vampire, and hearing his voice is the only reason to watch the English dubbed version.

"Psst! Psst! Do you believe in ghosts? You don't? Well, now... you must admit there are things that frighten us... you can't deny there are signs from the dead. In this tale by Chekov, 'The Drop of Water', we prove that a ghost doesn't have to be seen... to be believed!"--Karloff's opening narration for the first segment in the US version of BLACK SABBATH. It's the last story in the European version.

This last segment of BLACK SABBATH is tampered with the least in its American variant; but ironically enough, it's damaged the most by lots of added sound effects and the overpowering, intrusive cues of Les Baxter. This story is simply one of the scariest, nerve-jangling pieces of horror cinema ever made and its power is lessened considerably by unnecessary additions to "beef up" AIP's perception of the fright factor.

About five minutes into this show, the dubbed dialog is very different once the night nurse (called Miss Chester in the Italian cut and Miss Dorrit in the English release) arrives at the creepy medium's mansion. The dialog in Bava's original adds an additional layer to the nurse showing her to be a rather cold, self-centered woman that's amplified by her theft of the dead woman's ring.

In the English release, the dubbed lines put her in a less ill-mannered light. There's also one major difference in this exchange from the dead medium's caretaker that gives away what's coming. The differences in dialog are below:


Nurse: I bet you won't even pay me!

Caretaker: Don't worry about that. There are still a few shillings in the house. I'll pay you.

Nurse: Couldn't you call a relative?!

Caretaker: You know she didn't have any. She had no friends other than the ones who made the table shake.


Nurse: Well, take me to her!

Caretaker: I just have to warn you first -- you must not touch any of my mistresses things when you get in there! She told me there'd be a terrible curse on anyone who did... that they would die a horrible death! I believe her! She had such strange powers as a medium!

As you can see, the power of dubbing compels a totally different tone by this change for the US release. As mentioned earlier, the mangling of dialog isn't the only difference in this scary story. 

Right after the nurse has gotten the dead woman dressed for burial, she's still alone in the room with the corpse. It's in this scene where one of the weirdest additions was made to the US cut. The oppressive sound of dripping water makes its first appearance; but for some reason, there are two different pans the drops of water fall into! Note photo above -- the Euro version on the left and the US one on the right.

After the caretaker brings the nurse some shoes for the dead medium, there's some slight editing alterations (and musical cues added) made between the two prints.

When the nurse notices the dead woman's eyes are open again, the US version has a musical sting once we see her disturbingly contorted face with those wild eyes looking back at us. There's no musical accompaniment in the Italian cut during this spooky shot. 

The shot of the nurse looking down and noticing the fly on the dead woman's finger is edited differently in the US print -- instead of a cut from the dead woman's face to her hand with the fly where the ring used to be, the nurse (in close up) turns and looks down, screams, then we see the hand with the fly where the ring used to be. In the Italian version, we see the hand first, then the close up of the nurse followed by the scream.

Touching on the music again, Roberto Nicolosi's dissonant, haunting organ cues laced with echoing sound effects are replaced by Les Baxter's boisterous music added for AIP's release. This is especially damaging once the action shifts back to the nurse's home, and where the terror is ratcheted up considerably.

In comparing the two side by side, the Baxter music ruins the flow of this episode robbing it of almost all its inherent morbidity and skin-crawling terror.

Aside from the music (particularly during the moments inside the nurse's home), there are lots of sound effects such as a generous helping of thunderclaps. These are in the original version, too, but far more subtle in their usage. When the nurse gets up to inspect the noises she hears coming from the bathroom, we hear but a creaking door in the Italian original followed by some slight thunder as background noise. There's no dialog during this sequence.

The US print substitutes the creaking door for loud, increasingly rapid drops of water backed by pouring rain, thunder and other knocking sounds. There's also demonic groans on the soundtrack as she approaches her bathroom door! With her back to the camera, AIP felt it necessary to add some dialog here with -- "Who's in there" and "Please... who are you?" Below are additional alterations.


Once the nurse re-enters her living room area, the lights go out and she screams in terror, covering her face. We hear only Nicolosi's searingly spooky score as background noise. She runs into the room and falls down.


Once the nurse re-enters her living room area, the lights go out and she screams in terror, covering her face. We hear increasingly loud drops of water, the buzzing of a fly and reverberations of some spectral female screaming with laughter. She runs into the room and falls down. As she does, we hear her scream loudly.


As the nurse lights a candle and looks around, she hears the moaning of a cat. Aside from the rain hitting against her home, no other sound is heard as she makes her way to her bedroom door.


As the nurse lights a candle and looks around, she hears a long, ghostly moaning of what sounds like a woman. She hears it four times as she gets closer to her bedroom door.

Once the now terrified nurse realizes the dead medium has come for her, again Baxter's music lessens the impact of Nicolosi's slight tones that heighten the horror. Also, that sound of the moaning ghost woman is heard again (in the US release) as the nurse attempts to get away with her life. There are also added cat hissing and growling effects in the US cut (in the Italian version, it's but a plain meowing of the cat) as the scene shifts to the daytime. Below is an example of more dialog added to the last scene, which is detailed below:


Policeman: It looks like someone wrenched a ring from her finger.  

(There is no more dialog from this point. The woman who found the body looks around, then at the cop. It's obvious she's stolen the ring. The echoing sound of water droplets can be heard as well as the buzzing of a fly as the camera slowly zooms in on the dead woman's contorted face)


Policeman: Hmmm... this could've been from a ring being pulled from her finger.... must of been in a hurry... it's the only bruise on her... strange case... no sign of violence, yet she looks completely contorted in fear... almost as if she'd been frightened to death... as if she'd seen something too horrible to live through...

In the US version, the film moves on to the next segment, 'The Telephone'. But in the original Italian version, we close out with this ending monologue from Karloff decked out in his Wurdulak costume -- "So there it is. Didn't you see that end coming? There's no fooling around with ghosts, because they take revenge. Well, we've come to the end of our tales... so, sadly, I must leave you now. But watch out on the way home. Look around you, look behind you... careful when you open the door! And don't go in without turning on the light! Dream about me! We'll become friends!"

The camera then backs away revealing Karloff atop a fake horse as film technicians run around giving the illusion he's riding passed trees. This light-hearted, comedic moment was discarded from the US print, which closes without any final words from Karloff. Instead, it goes straight to the end credits backed by a lighter toned Baxter composition that sounds similar to the sort the man created for the Roger Corman-Poe pictures that were popular at the time.

In closing, the inferiority of the US cut when compared to Mario Bava's original work is easily apparent. If you've not seen the Bava version, the impact is no doubt lessened, but comparing the two in this fashion, it reveals there's very little to recommend the US variant over its superior Italian counterpart. The single recommendation afforded AIP's version would be the pleasure of hearing Boris Karloff in his own voice. Outside of that, there's nothing else. Les Baxter's score has been damned often throughout this article, but it's not a bad score, just a bad fit for this movie. It would be better served hearing it on CD and not on this film.


1. The opening credits between the two cuts are different -- Italian credits list all major participants and technical crew. US credits list only the main actors. Both cuts feature extensive ending credits.
 2. Music scores are vastly different -- Roberto Nicolosi did music in Bava version; Les Baxter did music in US version.
 3. There's are entirely different Boris Karloff opening segments in US version. Original Italian version only has Karloff at the films beginning and ending sequences.

4. 'The Drop of Water' is first story in US version; third in Italian. It begins at 00:2:21--ends at 00:24:12 (US version); begins at 01:08:33--ends at 01:30:29 (Italian version).
5. There are lots of added sound effects in US version of this segment.
6. The dubbed dialog is different in a key sequence. 
7. Segment is approximately 22 minutes in US version and 22 minutes in Italian version.
8. Title in Italian is 'LA GOCCIA D'ACQUA'.

9. 'The Telephone' is second segment in US release; first in Italian. It begins at 00:24:54--ends at 00:49:42 (US version); begins at 00:02:05--ends at 00:27:10 (Italian version).
10. There are a few major examples of added shots and editing that change tone of this episode.
11. Dubbing is different telling us that Frank is dead. In original version Frank has escaped from jail.
12. All dialog revealing lesbianism sub-plot is eliminated in US cut.
13. Segment is approximately 25 minutes in US version and 25 minutes in Italian version.
14. Title in Italian is 'IL TELEFONO'.

15. 'The Wurdulak' is third segment in US release; second in Italian. It begins at 00:50:45--ends at 01:34:45 (US version); begins at 00:27:11--ends at 01:08:32 (Italian version)
16. Lots of alternate and longer shots between the two segments. 
17. Gore is cut from this segment -- shot of Karloff removing severed head from bag is cut, although shot of head swinging outside of house is retained. Example of alternate footage used here in US cut.
18. Segment is approximately 44 minutes in US version and 51 minutes in Italian version.
19. Title in Italian is 'I WURDULAK'.

20. Total feature running times -- 01:35:25 (US cut); 01: 32:12 (Italian cut)
21. Each segment begins with a title and cast credits in Italian version. No titles or cast list for US version as each story begins.
22. The dubbed widescreen print used here (from a satellite broadcast) is missing information on all sides.
***The dubbed, widescreen English language version used for this article came from a satellite airing on the Epix Drive In Channel.***

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