Based on the story by Gogol, the Vij. If there’s anyone out there who actually reads this blog, they’ll know I’m a huge Bava fan and Italian cinema fan in general. This was his first film, and is considered by many to be his best, as it encapsulates everything that was great about the master director. Being a cinematographer and set-designer by heart, he places a lot of detail into these sets and the lighting, and creates atmosphere that has very little times been equaled. There are many scenes that show this, such as the famous and celebrated scene where Javuto rises from his tomb in a cemetery that looks like something out of a Goya painting. It’s creepy and ridiculously scary, and the slow rise of the creature with it’s diabolical mask and putrefactive liquid dripping from his claw-like hands really sends a chill down the spine.
This is the film that introduced the world to Barbara Steele, and boy was it love at first sight. She was always beautiful, but I don’t think beauty and talent is all of it. I believe the reason Barbara Steele captivated the world and became the huge scream queen she would be known for was her uncanny ability to look like she’s in both pain and pleasure at the same time. This movie received a lot of censorship when it first came out, as it had more violence in it than most people were accustomed to in the cinemas, but even with that they weren’t able to hinder it’s power. The film is a true classic, and it shows that horror cinema could be considered art.