Time To Celebrate Cult Movie Horror’s Icon: Barbara Steele!
To me, the “modern era” of horror began with a series of films that used shocking imagery not seen before in films:
Yes, those are “nail holes” in Barbara Steele’s face! We’ll get to the shocking film that has this horrific sequence, but first, Shocktober Day #26 takes a moment to showcase the history of Barbara Steele!
Barbara Steele is a British film Actress and Producer. She starred in some of the greatest Italian Gothic horror films of the 1960s.
It was her breakthrough performance in 1960’s “Black Sunday” that made her an international star – And introduced the world to a more shocking horror style!
“Black Sunday” was legendary Director Mario Bava’s directorial debut – and one of the most shocking films ever released to that time.
Here is the trailer:
Steele catapulted to stardom with her dual role of Princess Katia and Princess Asa Vajda.
Here is the plot: a vengeful witch and her fiendish servant return from the grave and begin a bloody campaign to possess the body of the witch’s beautiful look-alike descendant, with only the girl’s brother and a handsome doctor standing in her way.
A great horror film, it received its well-deserved notoriety for the scene where an iron mask is placed on Steele’s face – and the inside of it has nails!
This was controversial and incendiary stuff for 1960!
According to some trivia I found:
“Bava and Steele had a difficult working relationship. Steele sometimes refused to come to set because she did not like her wig or the fact that her cleavage would be shown. One time she refused to come to the set because she believed that Bava wold force her to appear nude. Steele admits that she was difficult due to her inexperience and her inability to understand Italian.”
Some more trivia: several of the film’s scenes were recreated specifically for Francis Ford Coppola’s interpretation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1992 as a homage to Bava’s film!
“Black Sunday” was banned in the UK until 1968. Even then, it was heavily cut. The full uncut version wasn’t released in Britain until 1992.
Steele starred in a string of Italian horror films like 1964’s “Castle of Blood”, and she also starred alongside Vincent Price in Roger Corman’s 1961 film “The Pit and the Pendulum!”
Steele returned to the horror genre in the later 1970s, appearing in David Cronenberg’s 1975 shocker “Shivers” as well as “Piranha” in 1978!
In 2014, surprised fans with an appearance in Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut “Lost River”…she clearly is beloved by cinema fans of all ages!
Steele was at the forefront of a new era of horror in cinema…and she was mesmerizing!
I have been looking at 31 “Cult Horror Queens” during Shocktober, including such legends as this one:
Yes, Lina Romay would take a “blood bath” for her art – she was one of Europe’s most “liberal” Actresses – click here to see some of her most “revealing” work:
In the 80’s, an entire new generation of “Scream Queen” took over, with even fewer inhibitions:
Yes, Linnea Quigley did a nude cemetery dance, and she loved to play with chainsaws as well!
She starred in a lot of cult gems – click on my story here to see some of those great films:
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Leave a comment with your favorite Barbara Steele film!