Our Rating: ★★★☆☆
L Factor: Minor lesbian content
Short Take: Skin crawling Italian horror
Alternate Titles: I tre volti della paura
Year: 1963
Duration: 92 min
Language: Italy, France, USA/Italian or English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Mario Bava, Salvatore Billitteri
Writer: Mario Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua
Starring: Michele Mercier, Lidia Alfonsi, Boris Karloff, Mark Damon, Susy Andersen, Massimo Righi, Rika Dialina, Glauco Onorato, Jacqueline Pierreux, Milly, Harriet Medin, Gustavo De Nardo

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Black SabbathThree tales make up this horror film. Each is creepy and masterful, but the segment called The Telephone is our lesbian story. In the original version, as intended by classic Italian horror writer/director, Mario Bava, the film featured a clear lesbian entanglement between the two female leads, but, alas, when the film got to the US, it was rearranged and re-edited, and a lot of the lesbian subplot was lost.

Here’s the American version: Alone in her apartment, Rosy (Michele Mercier) gets repeated hang up calls. Finally the caller speaks to the towel-draped woman. “Don’t cover yourself, I like seeing you this way.”

Turns out the caller is Frank, an ex-lover who died three months ago. Oh, and Rosy helped put Frank in prison. Tears and fears compel Rosy to call Mary (Lidia Akfonsi), whom Frank dumped so he could take up with Rosy. Shrugging off any hard feelings, Mary promises to come right over. Once there, convinced Rosy is hallucinating, Mary sedates Rosy and plans on calling a shrink in the morning. Sadly, Frank offs Mary before she gets to make the call. In the end, Frank and Rosy face off in an ending that honestly gave me chills – and I watched the movie during the day.

In the original version Frank is not a ghost, just a pissed off ex-con coming for revenge. It’s a more likely and logical story, thus making it more frightening.

The other two tales are lesbian free, but also dark and suspenseful. The Wurdalak stars Boris Karloff in an Eastern European vampire story. Hint, never say, “I’d rather be dead” if you are a character in a movie with Boris Karloff.

The Drop of Water is by far the creepiest of the stories! It shows what happens when you steal stuff from dead people.

Look for the rental (Netflix) or purchase (Amazon) of the European version. As well as more lesbian content, you’ll get a bit more gore, a better soundtrack and a more skin-crawling experience. (CJ)