1960 was an interesting year. It was the dawn of one of the lousiest decades in the history of the American cinema (ok, most of a decade, the salvation came in 1967), but it also had the amazing film Psycho to give us some hope and grandeur for this decade. As it turned out, in Italy things were a little better, as can be shown by the rise of the Giallo movies. One of them, one of the earlier ones, is "Black Sunday", also known as The Mask of Satan. And it is still a very nice movie.
It is a story, a movie, about the consequences of the witch hunting of the 17th century. It is a film about the way Satan worshipers torment the pure of hearts, and how they fight back. It is a story about love. It is also a movie that stands to its title, to its rank, that time only benefitted it.
And like with all early masterpieces that still hold their charm, this movie has a lot to teach us. I, for once, wanna concentrate on the scenery. Especially the castle, the old dark castle. This castle is based around the gothic tradition- it is old, it is gloomy, it is filled with paintings of important figures from older times. It is also a castle made of narrow corridors and full of rooms and doors, not to mention some secret passages.
And this gives the director a lot to work with. The paintings can be used for foreshadowing; the gloomy and dark looks of the castle for the mod setting. But especially important are the narrow corridors filled with doors and the secret passages. The first one is important mainly because it gives the monsters the ability to attack from wherever they want. Through this we get a larger sense of paranoia and a greater fear of the unknown- after all, we know the monster will attack, but we don't know from where.
The secret passage is important from this reason, but also from a far more important one- it helps the director to control the pace- when the corridor will be revealed, we will enter the last phase. This is an important tool to have in the arsenal, as it helps to move past scenes of dwindling importance, action or dread-building.
And we, as GMs, don't have to limit ourselves to just old castles, we can use asylums, or hunted houses, or so much more. The important lesson from this movie, though, is to think about the scenery, to try to think and understand why do we want such a scenery and how can we utilize it. Hopefully, we'll get far greater benefits from our sceneries if we'll think about those questions.
How about you? What did you think about this movie? And what have you taken from it?