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Black Sunday at the Castle Keep – come in!!!!

The long awaited screening of La maschera del demonio finally came, and I’m glad to say it was sold old. That wonderful Great Hall of the Castle Keep, a place I’ve become more than familiar with over the last year and a half, remains a perfect place for screening this amazing piece of Euro Gothic.

As with last year’s screening of Witchfinder General, Kris Atkinson ofScreenage Kicks introduced the film and spoke about the influence Black Sunday has had on the genre. Kris does an excellent job with these events; if there is one guy who can keep Gothic horror undead in the North East, its Kris!

Black Sunday has not lost any of its power to thrill and entertain. It is a perfect example of director Mario Bava’s strong visual style. Not one scene is wasted with the black and white photography and the Gothic set designs put to good use.

This is a visually striking piece of cinema, and while the story itself isn’t the most inspiring, Bava more than compensates for any shortfalls in the script by creating a truly sublime masterpiece.

But one can’t review Black Sunday without talking about Barbara Steele, the the role that made her a horror star. Her expressive eyes and haunting beauty made her perfect for the genre. She is clearly the film’s focal point, and her performance is regarded as one of her best.

The audience response was extremely positive. With that I want to thank my friends Chris Phipps, Carolyn Eastgate, Michael Johnson, Andy Cain, Martin Thompson and Paul Skepper for their support, and of course to the great Peter Cumisky for staging the event – his last at the Castle Keep.

Next came the Q&A panel which Kris had invited me to be part of alongside fellow writers Stephen Laws & Neil Snowdon. Between us we discussed at great length the film, its history and how it shaped horror cinema. It was an enjoyable time and I certainly felt in awe of these wonderful people – they knew more about it than me!

Of course I got to sell a couple of books and then it was off to the Bridge Hotel for a pint of Rooster Yankee! Long live real ale!

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