31 Days of Horror: Black Sunday

La maschera del demonio (1960) aka Black Sunday aka Le masque du démon aka La máscara del demonio aka A Maldição do Demônio aka House of Fright aka Revenge of the Vampire aka Mask of the Demon aka The Demon's Mask aka The Mask of Satan was Italian director Mario Bava's first film to gain international acclaim.

It's based very loosely on Russian writer Nikolai Gogol's short story Viy about a witch. That's pretty much where the similarities end. Bava's film starts in 1630 Moldavia, where a beautiful witch Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele) and her cohort (her brother in the Italian version and her lover in the American dubbed version) are burned at the stake for being witches by Vajda's other brother Prince Vajda. She places a curse on Vajda's family before having a mask with spikes hammered into her face.

A couple of centuries pass by and a couple of doctors are on they way through Moldavia and their carriage breaks down near an old cemetery. While waiting for the repairs they explore the cemetery and discover the tomb of Asa Vajda. They open her coffin and remove the metal mask and accidentally bleed into the corpse's face thus resurrecting the evil blood sucking witch.

The descendants of Prince Vajda include the latest in the line of princes - the aptly named Prince Vajda and his daughter Katia Vajda (also played by Steele). The evil vampire witch Barbara Steele wants the good Barbara Steele's blood thus ensuring her immortality. She also resurrects her lover/brother cohort Javuto (Arturo Dominici) to wreck havoc on the country side and assist Steele in her evil work.

Bava was an excellent cinematographer and it shows in this film. While the movie is pretty tame by today's standards, it suffered from several cuts at the time which removed some of the gore. It was also banned in Britain until 1968. Fortunately you can watch it mostly uncut - there is still one scene missing from almost every DVD available except the actual Italian disc. It's not a crucial scene, it shows Steele and her father talking outside briefly, but it does exist.

Pick of the Day: Pats vs Broncos

As I've bitched before in prairie dog, hockey season, which in the junior ranks starts in mid-September, and which in the pro ranks doesn't end until early June, is waaaay too long. Now that we're into late October though, and baseball is winding down, and football (of the CFL variety, anyway) is gearing up for the playoffs, it's not inappropriate to start thinking about hockey.

After enduring an off-season of turmoil, in which they fired coach Dale Derkatch and re-hired former bench boss Curtis Hunt after his dismissal as an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators, the Pats stumbled badly out of the gate going 1-4 in their first five games and being outscored 20-10. They received short-lived boost when forward Jordan Eberle (pictured) and defencenman Colten Teubert returned from NHL training camps, scoring a bucketful of goals in a handful of wins, but have since regressed and sit dead last in the East Division.

As with innumerable past seasons, the team has failed to play up to expectations, and has sorely lacked the necessary grit and discipline to succeed in the always tough WHL. Destined to lose Eberle and Teubert to the Canadian Junior team in mid-December, and facing lengthy stints on the road in mid-November to accommodate Agribition and late-December when Regina co-hosts the world junior championship with Saskatoon, it's imperative that the team pile up the points now to give it a cushion for the tough stretch to come.

Tonight, the Pats host the Swift Current Broncos at Brandt Centre. I won't be able to attend. But if you do go, and you happen to see a certain high-profile individual in the crowd who hails from Speedy Creek be sure to say Hi from all of us at prairie dog okay?