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Black Sabbath

After reading up on Black Sabbath a bit, I wish I had sought out the original Italian version, rather than settling for the sanitized English version released by American International Pictures (which is the one currently available on Netflix in the States). Of the film’s three short stories, one (“The Telephone”) is edited severely enough to completely change its meaning, but thankfully, a discerning eye can still spot traces of its more lurid giallo origins shining through the incoherent ghost story it has become. “The Drop of Water,” reminiscent of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” apparently survives mostly unmolested and is probably the strongest (and most fun) segment. But “The Wurdulak,” whose uninspired vampire tale closes Black Sabbath (moved from the middle in the Italian version), threatens to sink the whole production like a stone. Taking up nearly half the feature’s entire runtime, it is unbearably slow, and its Gothic tone and period setting don’t provoke fright so much as they expose the limitations of the film’s budget.