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RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror

 
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RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 26/10/2010 9:12:55 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4027
Joined: 19/10/2005
quote:

ORIGINAL: paul.mccluskey

Finally, we have official details on A Bay of Blood, which is due to be released on 22nd October!

Enjoy:

Blu-ray:

THIS AMAZING EDITION CONTAINS:

- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned art work

- Double-sided fold-out poster

- Collector's Booklet by Jay Slater, critic and author of Eaten Alive!

- Brand new high definition transfer of the English version of the film (1080p)

- Italian cut of the film

- Original Mono Audio

- Twitch of the Death Nerve Radio Spots

SPECIAL FEATURES:

- Argento! Bava! Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti (1080p)

- Joe Dante on Mario Bava (1080p)

- Shooting a Spaghetti Splatter Classic: Cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia on A Bay of Blood (1080p)

- Audio discussion with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark

- A Bay of Blood Trailers: 'Carnage' and 'Twitch of the Death Nerve' with commentary by Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead


DVD:

THIS AMAZING EDITION CONTAINS:

- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned art work

- Double-sided fold-out poster

- Collector's Booklet by Jay Slater, critic and author of Eaten Alive!

DISC 1 CONTAINS:

- Brand new transfer of the English version

- Original Mono Audio

SPECIAL FEATURES:

- Joe Dante on Mario Bava

- Shooting a Spaghetti Splatter Classic: Cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia on A Bay of Blood

- Audio discussion with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark

- A Bay of Blood Trailers: 'Carnage' and 'Twitch of the Death Nerve' with commentary by Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead

- Twitch of the Death Nerve Radio Spots

DISC 2 CONTAINS:

- Italian Cut

- Original Mono Audio

SPECIAL FEATURES:

- Argento! Bava! Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti



Wow!!! I think the commentary is on the R1 but good stuff all the same, I wonder what the Italian cut is like?


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Post #: 61
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 10/11/2010 6:38:08 PM   
paul.mccluskey


Posts: 5173
Joined: 15/4/2007
From: Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Obviously A Bay of Blood didn't get released on 22nd October! It's now been moved to 22nd November.

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
Post #: 62
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 11/11/2010 4:36:57 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6737
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: paul.mccluskey

Obviously A Bay of Blood didn't get released on 22nd October! It's now been moved to 22nd November.

Have it on pre order and got the E Mail to say it was delayed.


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Post #: 63
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 11/11/2010 7:50:20 PM   
paul.mccluskey


Posts: 5173
Joined: 15/4/2007
From: Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Now it's been moved to 6th December! Christmas present methinks !

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Post #: 64
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 26/11/2010 3:36:23 PM   
paul.mccluskey


Posts: 5173
Joined: 15/4/2007
From: Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK
The release date for the Blu-ray of A Bay of Blood has now been moved to 20th December.

< Message edited by paul.mccluskey -- 26/11/2010 10:21:24 PM >

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Post #: 65
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 29/11/2010 7:34:03 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6737
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: paul.mccluskey

The release date for the Blu-ray of A Bay of Blood has now been moved to 20th December.

Maybe get it just in time for Christmas????.


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Post #: 66
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 7/1/2011 1:34:09 PM   
paul.mccluskey


Posts: 5173
Joined: 15/4/2007
From: Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Watched A Bay of Blood on Wednesday night. Here's my review:


Reaction
Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood (also known as Twitch of the Death Nerve, Last House on the Left Part II, and Blood Bath), a well-known UK video nasty, is considered to be the film which inspired the classic slasher flick, Friday the 13th. This is no surprise, as this Italian giallo has plenty of inventive and gory murders, as 13 cast members are brutally picked off one by one in this bloody fable on greed and death.

The film is tight, with fascinating cinematography by Bava himself, an excellent score by Stelvio Cipriani, a great cast comprising of cult actors such as Leopoldo Trieste, who would turn up in the infamous Tinto Brass epic, Caligula, OTT acting, and, as with many Italian horror films, ludicrous dubbing. But it's a good watch, and it's obvious that filming was a great time as everyone seems to be enjoying themselves in their respective roles.

However, the film is quite slow at times, with some exposition-heavy sequences, and drags to a crawl, which is quite frustrating.


Overall
Not the best giallo, but it's fun and entertaining, and is a good starting point for film fans who have yet to be introduced to one of the Masters of Italian cinema.


(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 67
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 7/1/2011 9:29:35 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4027
Joined: 19/10/2005
Nice review, it does slow down rather alot in the final third doesn't it?  Still hugely enjoyable though, Bava just having fun, must get this DVD, as the old one I have is quite poor.

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Post #: 68
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 15/1/2011 3:17:04 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6737
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: paul.mccluskey

Watched A Bay of Blood on Wednesday night. Here's my review:


Reaction
Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood (also known as Twitch of the Death Nerve, Last House on the Left Part II, and Blood Bath), a well-known UK video nasty, is considered to be the film which inspired the classic slasher flick, Friday the 13th. This is no surprise, as this Italian giallo has plenty of inventive and gory murders, as 13 cast members are brutally picked off one by one in this bloody fable on greed and death.

The film is tight, with fascinating cinematography by Bava himself, an excellent score by Stelvio Cipriani, a great cast comprising of cult actors such as Leopoldo Trieste, who would turn up in the infamous Tinto Brass epic, Caligula, OTT acting, and, as with many Italian horror films, ludicrous dubbing. But it's a good watch, and it's obvious that filming was a great time as everyone seems to be enjoying themselves in their respective roles.

However, the film is quite slow at times, with some exposition-heavy sequences, and drags to a crawl, which is quite frustrating.


Overall
Not the best giallo, but it's fun and entertaining, and is a good starting point for film fans who have yet to be introduced to one of the Masters of Italian cinema.



Great review of a classic,i'd love to get the Blu-Ray of this one,my copy is part of the Box set released a number of years ago.


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"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

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Post #: 69
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 18/3/2011 7:06:50 PM   
dj vivace


Posts: 5991
Joined: 28/7/2006
From: plymouth
BLOOD BATH (aka A BAY OF BLOOD)
 

 
Director: Mario Bava

First released: 1983 (although made in 1971)

Current status: Passed 18 uncut in the UK

Shockingly MarioBava’s classic film was refused a certificate by the BBFC in 1972 for it’s first cinema release and had to wait over ten years to finally get a VHS release in February 1983 on the Hokushin label. The film was removed from the shelves in March 1984 as part of the Video Nasty madness and became a collectable from The List. The film was finally released by Redemption in 1994 as Bay of Blood and had 43 seconds of cuts. The BBFC eventually allowed the film to be released uncut for the 2010 Arrow DVD/Bluray release.



Being a bit of a newcomer to Bava I must say I was highly impressed with this dark and unsettling mystery and yet cannot for the life of me understand how the film failed to even get a cinema release all those years ago. Here, Bava has created a horror film of the highest quality in every sense of the word and to not then go and learn some history of the great man I feel is an insult to his legacy. After all, it is said that Bava is the man responsible for creating one of the finest genres in horror, the Giallo. Bava studied to become a painter, and yet after helping out on his Dad’s films (his Dad Eugenio Bava was a well respected film photographer) Mario decided to enter the world of films for himself. Mario made a few short films in the 1940’s and moved on to be a cinematographer until the 1960’s and got himself a bit of a reputation as a special effects genius. His artistic background meant he was able to use colours and lighting ti exceptional effect and he was so good at it he was asked to do the special effects on the 1976 colour version of King Kong. Bava refused. He was so proud of his paintings too, and even used them in some of his films. In 1956 Bava stepped in to finish directing I Vampiri after the original director had a fall out with the studios,  the film was finished on time and also known as The Devil’s Commandment and went on to inspire a new wave of Italian Gothic horror. Bava went on to “save” two more films and eventually the studio Galatea offered Bava the chance to direct whatever he wanted and they would finance it.



Revenge of the Vampire (1960) was Bava’s first proper film and was in black and white. With films like Hercules in the Centre of the Earth (1961) and The Whip and the Flesh (1963) Bava really started to make full use of the colours and artistic skills he had as a painter, and Bava perfected his style with the following two films La Ragazza Che Sapeva Troppo (1963) and Sie Donne per L’assassino (1964) and finally the Giallo was born. Bava went on to make all sorts of films like Westerns, action films and even softcore movies, but his home was horror films and Giallo mysteries. His son Lamberto Bava worked as an assistant on most of his films from 1965, and Lamberto eventually became a director himself in 1980. From 1975 Mario’s films and popularity went into decline until his son asked his out of retirement to direct Shock. Mario died of a heart attack on April 27th 1980 aged 65.



But Bava left a legacy behind him, not only did he single handedly start the Giallo genre, many say it was this film (Blood Bath) that started the slasher genre. Watching Blood Bath it is not hard to see why. The film is delivered with exceptional style and vicious violence. Bava used his skills like no other in creating one hell of an atmosphere in a simple location in a bay. Budget restraints meant that most of the shots inside houses were done using houses of the crew, or a favourite villa of Bava’s was used as the Countesses house. Bava was only able to film on a small private part of land, however his skills with camera trickery were put to great use to create a much larger landscape. Supposedly he used branches to cover his camera’s to give the effect of woods, which gave the crew much to laugh about during filming. The film itself is a simple tale of double crossing and murder but told in a way that it never becomes boring or slow, and even though the film barely gets past 80 minutes, it is constantly interesting, intriguing and exciting. Countess Federica (Isa Miranda) opens the main story by what looks like a suicide. It would seem that she has hung herself, and left a conveniant suicide note, however other members of her family feel she may have been murdered for either her money or her land. Her husband is also missing and doubt and mystery consume the bay as family and friends point fingers and try to solve the mystery. Everyone who was in the Countesses will are involved in working out the clues and blaming the other person. Pretty soon violent and nasty murders begin to take place, with the killer never being revealed but with each death more brutal than the next. To say much more about the plot would honestly spoil things as this is a good old fashioned mystery where the less you know about the story the better.



However, the inclusion of a group of friends who visit the bay for a weekend away will not spoil the plot. It almost feels like they were added  to the film to give the killer a proper introduction, and allow Bava to include a few more deaths on screen. As soon as the friends arrive and settle in, they get murdered in specatcular fashion. In fact, the murders in this film are so influential, Friday the 13th Part 2 copied two of them scene for scene alike. A large meat clever is used in sickly fashion as it literally tears a chunk out of a poor girls neck, a spear is brilliantly used to stab through two lovers having sex and knives come out for multiple stabbings. Argento was supposedly in love with this film, and you can see it’s influences all over his brilliant work. Argento also stole a print of this film when it was first released in Italy. A friend of his worked as a projectionist, and Argento got him to steel the print, and instead the theatre played a different film while Argento kept his stolen print at home. Apparantly he still has it!



The music and style to Bava’s masterpiece is undoubtedly Italian, with strong European Jazz music used to create a dangerous tone, and every now and again the use of strong yellows and reds are used, much like Argento went on to make his trademark. But is it the incredibly forced use of dark and bright blues and serious blacks that Bava utilises best. Most of the film is either filmed at night, or as the sun is going down, and so there is little help from a bright, happy atmosphere. It is dark, moody and intense with all the actors giving surprisingly brilliant performances. Each character has his or her own personality and it would seem that Bava has left nothing to chance, making sure even the smallest characters get given the chance to made an impact. The guy who collects bugs is a great creation, a true oddball and Bava very very cleverly arouses suspicions on the whole cast before the final reveal. The film also has a very sexy mood, even though there is hardly any sex in it, the female characters are very seducing and feel almost porn-like. Whether this was intentional, or whether it was just Bava’s past soft-porn films shinning through I don’t know but the girls here are very attractive and pleasing on the eye.



Camera movements are put to great use here too, and tracking shots were created using a child toy, again due to budget restraints. Bava like’s to jolt the viewer into a sense of panic. His murders are quick, but horrific with the camera often panning into a sudden close-up to conjure up fear. One victim brilliantly lands on the camera after being strangled! Christopher Lee saw this film at the cinema and supposedly walked out in protest about the level of violence on offer, so that is testament to the films nature. Personally, i think the violence is carefully handled, is not too gratuitous as to be tha main draw of the film, and instead carries the film in the direction its creator wanted it to go. Considering when this film was made, it is well before it’s time and can sit nicely alongside horrors today. With more alternative titles than any other movie in history, Bava’s Blood Bath, or Bay of Blood as it is better known, is a tour de force in horror and one of THE most influential horrors of all time. For that reason alone, it demands respect. This was my first venture into Bava’s world and i must admit it is a truly unique and quite brilliant world that is timeless and clever. Horror directors clearly still learn from this movie alone, and even try to better it. Not many can.

Did this film deserve to be on the Video Nasty List: For its time, oh yes most definitely, the violence on offer here for all those years ago is quite shocking, although the quality of the actual films means that it is clearly not violence for violence sake and is instead a well crafted mystery that maybe the BBFC should have been a bit more leniant with



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Post #: 70
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 31/3/2011 9:01:22 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6737
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: dj vivace

BLOOD BATH (aka A BAY OF BLOOD)
 

 
Director: Mario Bava

First released: 1983 (although made in 1971)

Current status: Passed 18 uncut in the UK

Shockingly MarioBava's classic film was refused a certificate by the BBFC in 1972 for it's first cinema release and had to wait over ten years to finally get a VHS release in February 1983 on the Hokushin label. The film was removed from the shelves in March 1984 as part of the Video Nasty madness and became a collectable from The List. The film was finally released by Redemption in 1994 as Bay of Blood and had 43 seconds of cuts. The BBFC eventually allowed the film to be released uncut for the 2010 Arrow DVD/Bluray release.



Bay of Blood as it is better known, is a tour de force in horror and one of THE most influential horrors of all time. For that reason alone, it demands respect. This was my first venture into Bava's world and i must admit it is a truly unique and quite brilliant world that is timeless and clever. Horror directors clearly still learn from this movie alone, and even try to better it. Not many can.

Did this film deserve to be on the Video Nasty List: For its time, oh yes most definitely, the violence on offer here for all those years ago is quite shocking, although the quality of the actual films means that it is clearly not violence for violence sake and is instead a well crafted mystery that maybe the BBFC should have been a bit more leniant with



Well what a review of a true classic and a milestone in cinema history,and a must have for any horror fan.


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"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

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Post #: 71
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 8/6/2011 8:08:08 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6737
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk

Blood Brides 1970 AKA Hatchet for the Honeymoon
John Harrington(Stephen Forsyth) owns a fashion gallery in Paris, specialized in wedding dresses and there are a lot of models working for him.But he also a mass killer who hacks up a bride's on there wedding night with a meat cleaver,so the face of his mother's killer (she died similarly) becomes a bit more clear with each killing. Compelled to discover the killer's identity, he kills again and again, even killing his own unloveable wife, who returns to haunt him as a ghost that everybody can see but him!

This is the blackest of black comedy,and shows that Mario Bava was still on top form in the 70's,even though some new talent from Italy was out to take his crown as king of horror,which he earned during the 60'sIn this film he served as his own cinematographer with smooth camera moves and striking compositions,we get a real visual treat and the result is as attractive backdrops,awesome scenery and a tense atmosphere in this beautiful horror film.The editing too, is creatively done,as is his creative and colourful direction and Sante Romitelli's memorable playful creepy score.In truth this is a creative reworking of Hitchcock's classic PSYCHO (1960),but in this case it's patently clear from the start who killed John Harrington's mother.And of course it opens with the voiceover narration "My name is John Harrington. I'm thirty years old. I am a paranoiac. Paranoiac! What a marvellous world. So delicate. And full of possibilities. The fact is, I'm completely mad."

While watching this i thought,did Bret Easton Ellis see this film before writing American Psycho,cause it's not that far off the same plot,also in the 80's there was a slasher called He Knows Your Alone,very much in the same vain,just more bloody.But this is by far the better movie,with Stephen Forsyth staring with chilling wonderfully brooding performance and makes his psychotic character strangely likeable.Also co-star Laura Betti, in a fiendish performance as Forsyth's domineering wife,who he murders,but only for her to return to haunt him.This is the main set piece killing  when faced with the prospect of a sexually charged wife, he goes berserk in a sexual panic, dons a bridal veil and applies lipstick, and in a perverted reversal of the wedding night, chases her around the bedroom and brutally chops her with his weapon of choice, a cleaver. This scene is the most graphic and bloody yet extremely mild by Giallo standards,but then this is not just a Giallo film it is a very dark comedy,as seen in the aftermath of his wife's murder,as the arival of the suspicious police inspector shows.He keeps returning to Harrington to clear up minor points of other killings,and inquires about the screams which emanated from the house just minutes before. Harrington covers himself by showing the detective a scream-filled horror movie (Bava's own "Black Sabbath") which just happens to be playing on television. The three other murders we see Harrington commit are very subdued compared to this, the gore and blood obscured by flashy visuals,and no where near as fun filled.

As usual it's Mario Bava's cinematography, production design and lighting that lift this straight forward film to a higher level,yet it's no classic compared to his earlier work.It still has that sureal feel that mark so many of his films,and like all his work it's beautiful to look at.And there are two great suspense set-pieces to give you chills,like  the scene where the killer waltzes with his next victim to the eerie tune of a music box in a shadowy elegant store-room full of truly creepy plastic mannequins in wedding dresses,and then the  scene where he talks to the suspicious cop while his dead wife's arm is hanging from the staircase and dripping blood onto the carpet.Love the dark humour in this,and would recommend this film to any horror fan,but more so to all the Italian horror fan's,as this is an underrated gem worth every penny.7/10

< Message edited by evil bill -- 8/6/2011 8:11:24 PM >


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Post #: 72
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 9/6/2011 6:24:05 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4027
Joined: 19/10/2005
Great to see a good review of this almost forgotten Bava movie and you also noticed the similairities to American Psycho! Maybe a lesser Bava but even his lesser films are fascinating in my opinion.


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Post #: 73
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 10/6/2011 2:38:36 PM   
Discodez

 

Posts: 801
Joined: 2/9/2010
I watched "Bay of Blood" last night and loved it, totally and utterly bonkers and what an ending?!?

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Post #: 74
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 27/8/2011 12:00:05 PM   
paul.mccluskey


Posts: 5173
Joined: 15/4/2007
From: Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK
A Bay of Blood is moving to Arrow Video's new label, ArrowDrome, on 26th September so if you haven't bought the Special Edition, buy it now.

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Post #: 75
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 27/10/2012 1:04:26 PM   
paul.mccluskey


Posts: 5173
Joined: 15/4/2007
From: Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Arrow have announced that they will release Dual Format editions of Black Sunday and Lisa and the Devil on 28th January next year.

Black Sunday Special Features
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of two versions of the film; ‘The Mask of Satan’ – the European version with score by Roberto Nicolosi & ‘Black Sunday’ – the re-edited and re-dubbed AIP version with Les Baxter score, on home video for the first time
- Three audio versions: Optional Italian, European English and AIP English re-dub and re-score
- English SDH subtitles for both English versions and a new English subtitle translation of the Italian audio
- Audio Commentary with Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
- Introduction to the film by author and critic Alan Jones
- Interview with star and horror icon Barbara Steele
- Deleted Scene from the Italian version with notes by Tim Lucas
- International Trailer
- US Trailer
- Italian Trailer
- TV Spot
- I Vampiri (1956) – Italy’s first sound horror film directed by Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava
- US I Vampiri Trailer ‘The Devil’s Commandment’
- Trailer reel – trailers of all the major works by Mario Bava
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the films by Matt Bailey and Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Lisa and the Devil Special Features
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of both versions of the film: ‘Lisa and the Devil’ and ‘The House of Exorcism’ producer’s cut
- Optional English and Italian audio on ‘Lisa and the Devil’
- English SDH subtitles on both features and a new English subtitle translation of the Italian Audio of ‘Lisa and the Devil’
- Audio Commentary on ‘Lisa and the Devil’ by Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
- Audio Commentary on ‘The House of Exorcism’ by producer Alfredo Leone and star Elke Sommer
- Introductions to both films by author and critic Alan Jones
- The Exorcism of Lisa – Assistant Director Lamberto Bava, screenwriter Roberto Natale, Roy Bava and Bava biographer Alberto Pezzotta discuss the making of both versions of the film
- Deleted Scene
- Original trailers
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Stephen Thrower illustrated with original stills and archive posters




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Post #: 76
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 2/11/2012 10:19:35 PM   
smithCC

 

Posts: 4
Joined: 21/6/2012
I hope they better the Italian DVD by also including full English subs. The Italian DVD did only have English subs for that particular scene which was never dubbed. I much prefer the Italian soundtrack to the English.
relaxing muscles

< Message edited by smithCC -- 11/11/2012 9:25:30 PM >

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Post #: 77
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 23/1/2013 2:33:37 PM   
paul.mccluskey


Posts: 5173
Joined: 15/4/2007
From: Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Arrow have now accounced that they will release the Bava classics, Baron Blood and Black Sabbath, on Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD on 29th April.

Baron Blood Special Features
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of three versions of the film: Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga with Italian opening and closing titles and Baron Blood with English opening and closing titles and the European English export version audio, and for the first time on home video, the AIP version with alternate score by Les Baxter
- Three audio versions: Optional Italian, European English and AIP English re-dub and re-score
- English SDH subtitles and a new English subtitle translation of the Italian audio
- Audio Commentary with Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
- Introduction to Baron Blood by author and critic Alan Jones
- Trailers for Baron Blood
- Baron Blood Radio Spots
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Oliver James, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Black Sabbath Special Features
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of two versions of the film; ‘I tre volti della paura’ – the European version with score by Roberto Nicolosi & ‘Black Sabbath’ – the re-edited and re-dubbed AIP version with Les Baxter score, on home video for the first time
- English SDH subtitles for English Audio and a new English subtitle translation of the Italian audio
- Audio Commentary with Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
- Introduction to the film by author and critic Alan Jones
- A Life In Film – An Interview with star Mark Damon
- Three Faces of Black Sabbath – A comparison of the different versions of the film
- International Trailer
- US Trailer
- Italian Trailer
- TV and Radio Spots
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Cairns and a substantial interview with AIP Producer Samuel Z. Arkoff on his experiences of working with Bava, conducted by Tim Lucas, illustrated with original stills and posters




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Post #: 78
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 9/2/2013 3:57:52 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6737
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: paul.mccluskey

Arrow have now accounced that they will release the Bava classics, Baron Blood and Black Sabbath, on Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD on 29th April.

Baron Blood Special Features
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of three versions of the film: Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga with Italian opening and closing titles and Baron Blood with English opening and closing titles and the European English export version audio, and for the first time on home video, the AIP version with alternate score by Les Baxter
- Three audio versions: Optional Italian, European English and AIP English re-dub and re-score
- English SDH subtitles and a new English subtitle translation of the Italian audio
- Audio Commentary with Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
- Introduction to Baron Blood by author and critic Alan Jones
- Trailers for Baron Blood
- Baron Blood Radio Spots
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Oliver James, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

Black Sabbath Special Features
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of two versions of the film; 'I tre volti della paura' – the European version with score by Roberto Nicolosi & 'Black Sabbath' – the re-edited and re-dubbed AIP version with Les Baxter score, on home video for the first time
- English SDH subtitles for English Audio and a new English subtitle translation of the Italian audio
- Audio Commentary with Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
- Introduction to the film by author and critic Alan Jones
- A Life In Film – An Interview with star Mark Damon
- Three Faces of Black Sabbath – A comparison of the different versions of the film
- International Trailer
- US Trailer
- Italian Trailer
- TV and Radio Spots
- Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic David Cairns and a substantial interview with AIP Producer Samuel Z. Arkoff on his experiences of working with Bava, conducted by Tim Lucas, illustrated with original stills and posters





Now that's two films i'd pay money for again.

_____________________________

"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

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Post #: 79
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 27/2/2013 4:54:09 PM   
Discodez

 

Posts: 801
Joined: 2/9/2010
I watched Baron Blood last week (it was one of the films I had left to watch in the Region 1 Bava Box set I bought a while ago).

Got to say it was a major disappointment. I know no Bava film ever had major money splashed on it and the cheapness is half the charm but the acting and make up are so poor as to be almost laughable.

One for completeists only I think.

(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 80
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 16/9/2013 5:26:14 PM   
paul.mccluskey


Posts: 5173
Joined: 15/4/2007
From: Port Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Arrow will release Rabid Dogs on Blu-ray on 11th November. Extras include:

- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of two versions of the film; ‘Rabid Dogs’ – Bava’s original version posthumously completed from his notes & ‘Kidnapped’ – the re-edited, re-dubbed and re-scored version, supervised by Bava’s son and assistant Lamberto Bava and producer Alfredo Leone
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both versions
- Audio Commentary with Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
- End of the Road: The Making of Rabid Dogs – A documentary featurette including interviews with Lamberto Bava, Alfredo Leone and star Lea Lander
- Original Trailer
- Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Stephen Thrower, a history of the multiple versions of the film from Semaforo Rosso to Rabid Dogs to Kidnapped by Peter Blumenstock, illustrated with original stills and posters
- Much more to be announced!


(in reply to Discodez)
Post #: 81
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 17/9/2013 6:50:44 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6737
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: paul.mccluskey

Arrow will release Rabid Dogs on Blu-ray on 11th November. Extras include:

- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of two versions of the film; 'Rabid Dogs' – Bava's original version posthumously completed from his notes & 'Kidnapped' – the re-edited, re-dubbed and re-scored version, supervised by Bava's son and assistant Lamberto Bava and producer Alfredo Leone
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on both versions
- Audio Commentary with Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
- End of the Road: The Making of Rabid Dogs – A documentary featurette including interviews with Lamberto Bava, Alfredo Leone and star Lea Lander
- Original Trailer
- Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Stephen Thrower, a history of the multiple versions of the film from Semaforo Rosso to Rabid Dogs to Kidnapped by Peter Blumenstock, illustrated with original stills and posters
- Much more to be announced!



I did a review of this a while back, and it's worth adding to any collection of Bava films, a real gem.


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"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

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Post #: 82
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 8/4/2014 8:41:27 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4027
Joined: 19/10/2005

Dora suffers a nervous breakdown following the mysterious suicide of her husband Carlo, a drug addict who abused her. After a stay in a sanatorium, she is released to the care of her new husband Bruno. Dora, Bruno and her young son Marco settle down in the house she shared with Carlo until a more convenient location can be found, and strange events begin to transpire. Things seem to move and Marco starts behaving very oddly, not just seeming to have unhealthy feelings for his mother but striking up conversations with an imaginary friend….

It’s my belief that Mario Bava, generally considered one of the three kings of Italian horror – the other two being Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci – was possibly the best film-maker of the three, though much of his work was not critically appreciated much in his lifetime. Though I did review four of his movies when this website began, I don’t feel that I did them justice at the time [I like to think I’ve improved as a reviewer since then but I could be wrong!], so I will review one of his films every month or so from now on, as in my opinion he really is one of the great film-makers, and not just of horror. His work is usually stunning to look at, thematically fascinating, rich in black humour, incredibly well made considering the tiny budgets he had to work with, and hugely influential. Perversely, I’ve began with Shock, which was the last film Bava made for the cinema, the only reason being that it was the first one that caught my eye. It’s not actually one of his better films – there is a strong feeling that Bava didn’t put his ‘all’ into the project and that seems to have been true – and much in it doesn’t make much sense either, but it’s still an intriguing, if quite low-key, psychological ghost story that is also, as Bava set out to do every now and again, quite frightening.

Bava actually came out of retirement to make this film. His artistic masterpiece Lisa And The Devil had been released in a re-cut version that all-but-destroyed the original work, and Rabid Dogs was shelved a few days before completion when the studio went bankrupt. It’s understandable that Bava was disheartened with film-making. Shock actually began life in 1971 as an idea about a living house cooked up with Dardano Sacchetti, onto which Bava drafted elements of a true story about marital vengeance. Producer Dino De Laurentiis lost interest in the project but Lamberto later revived it to get his father working again. Mario and Lamberto wrote the script with Francesco Barbieri and Paolo Brigenti. Lamberto has gone on record as saying that Shock is more his own work than that of his father’s, who often walked off the set saying he was ill but possibly ensuring his son got directorial experience [interestingly, Lamberto's first solo film Macabre is almost like a non-supernatural semi-remake of Shock]. Star Daria Nicolodi, Dario Argento’s ex-girlfriend and star of some of his films, whom Bava specifically requested for the film, loved working with Bava and said that it’s her favourite of all the films she made. She went on to star in Bava’s TV movie The Venus Of Ille. Shock only did middling business at the box office. In the US it was released as Beyond The Door 2, an attempt to cash in the success of The Devil Within Her, which had been re-titled Beyond The Door for American audiences. Two minutes were cut, reducing the role of a psychiatrist, and in the process removing one vital scene, though you wouldn’t know it was missing if you didn’t know about it. These cuts still exists in many cheap DVD versions.

Shock opens with a virtual tour of the house in which most of the story will take place. The camera glides along at floor level going all over the place, and throughout the film Alberto Spagnoli’s camera is constantly prowling around and observing, often from a distance, creating a quietly powerful atmosphere of unease, an atmosphere where innocuous objects adopt a sinister aspect to them even when scary things aren’t occurring. Shock lacks the lush, even beautiful, look typical to Bava’s work, its more muted, realistic approach perhaps showing the input of Lamberto, though it must be said that Mario’s Rabid Dogs also adopted a style very different to Mario’s usual dreamlike, Gothic fashion, so perhaps his style was just evolving in the way Argento’s style became less over-the-top and in-your-face over the years. There’s no doubt though that Shock is a Mario Bava film through and through thematically, it being another of the director’s explorations of the destructive power of family [yet he seems to have had a happy family life] and the cyclical nature of violence, not to mention necrophilia, which he seems to have had a special interest in [and almost made a film about a true-life necrophiliac]. The story is really quite similar to that of The Whip And The Body, where a woman is haunted by her abusive husband, even up to the way it ends, though the approach is maybe more akin to that of Lisa And The Devil in that what is happening on screen is often ambiguous and can be interpreted in more than one way.

It’s actually incest which Shock dangerously skirts close to at times. We spend some time with the family in happy mode, but soon Marco is cutting up his mother’s knickers, spying on her in the shower, pining her down and mimicking sexual thrusting motions, and, in one of the film’s most startling moments, caressing his sleeping mother’s face and neck with a hand that transforms into that of a rotting dead person, presumably Carlo’s. The scene is shot from the point of view of Marco, and therefore it may just be a product of his mind, but then later on the boy does actually appear to be properly possessed, even if he more often just seems to switch places with his father. It’s up to the viewer to decide if the film is just carelessly or randomly written, or whether it’s intended to confuse. I would say it’s the latter – just look at the way Dora’s sightings of Carlo vary, sometimes being of just some invisible thing often waving a visible knife around [a scene which could have looked stupid but is really well achieved considering this was the days before CGI], though some things could have been clarified more. In any case, Shock often feels like a Fulci film with its languid pacing, unexplained deviations and scenes which sometimes go nowhere. One especially interesting and very self-aware scene has Marco do a drawing for the psychiatrist [this was the main scene that is missing from some versions]. The psychiatrist says it’s harmless and means nothing, but we know the drawing has dark implications and actually means quite a lot.

There is probably only one great shock in Shock, but it’s a good one, a superbly executed jump where Marco runs towards Dora and Carlo jumps out at her. Though this film is only mildly gory [a bit of axe violence, some startling severed fingers], there are some moments and devices in Shock that really get under the skin, like when Carlo is seen through the reflection of a glass table, distorting his face, and the whole tale, in whatever sense you take it, is very disturbing. Shock is one of those films where it would be wrong to reveal too much about the story [though I reckon some would guess the twist that occurs two thirds of the way through because it’s been used many times since], so I will be a bit vague here, but, after the hair-raising climactic scenes of what is mostly a very leisurely picture, the coda manages to be sad, even genuinely upsetting, yet also oddly touching at the same time. The surviving character will be traumatised for the rest of their life [and here the film recalls Bava’s A Hatchet For a Honeymoon too], yet their totally different perception of what is real may get him or her through it. I suppose it depends whether you think positively or negatively about such things. Bava had a nihilistic view of life [though not as nihilistic as Fulci’s], but also saw comfort in the unreal, the fantastic, even the frightening. In this respect, he was very much like another of my favourite artists in this area, Edgar Allan Poe, which Shock also seems to occasionally reference such as the old bricked up corpse routine!

While less attractive visually than most of Bava, Shock does have the odd pretty image, like when Dora’s hair floats all over the screen like she’s a more benign Medusa. Daria Nicolodi gives the performance of her life in this film, channelling aspects of her own near-breakdown after the end of her relationship with Argento into what is a very detailed study of insanity [or is it?]. It’s so good that one almost forgets the dubbing, which isn’t too bad in Nicolodi’s case though not so good elsewhere. John Steiner also does well as Bruno: he has a slightly sinister manner to him which adds to the unease. The score by the band The Libra is often very Goblin-like with its catchy prog-rock riffs, though it perhaps works best in its quieter passages, like when a music box tune like a nursery rhyme has distorted synthesiser noises playing beneath it. Shock only possesses a small amount of the elegance and gorgeousness of great Bava, and it can’t help seeming like a compromised work where Lamberto’s influence, whether it extended to directing most of the film or not, was as strong as Mario’s. However, it still has that compulsive feeling of dread that exists in all of Mario’s horror films, and stays lodged in the mind for far longer than most films along similar lines today. This is partly because, I suppose, lots of jump scares and gore may work wonders on first viewing but can’t help but diminish in effect with successive watches, while unsettling moodiness and a really cruel story will always remain as powerful as ever.

Rating: 7.5/10

Apologies for large pic, just can't reduce them on here though can on HCF.

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 83
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 27/5/2014 10:32:10 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6737
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

 Bava had a nihilistic view of life [though not as nihilistic as Fulci's], but also saw comfort in the unreal, the fantastic, even the frightening. In this respect, he was very much like another of my favourite artists in this area, Edgar Allan Poe, which Shock also seems to occasionally reference such as the old bricked up corpse routine!

While less attractive visually than most of Bava, Shock does have the odd pretty image, like when Dora's hair floats all over the screen like she's a more benign Medusa. Daria Nicolodi gives the performance of her life in this film, channelling aspects of her own near-breakdown after the end of her relationship with Argento into what is a very detailed study of insanity [or is it?]. It's so good that one almost forgets the dubbing, which isn't too bad in Nicolodi's case though not so good elsewhere. John Steiner also does well as Bruno: he has a slightly sinister manner to him which adds to the unease. The score by the band The Libra is often very Goblin-like with its catchy prog-rock riffs, though it perhaps works best in its quieter passages, like when a music box tune like a nursery rhyme has distorted synthesiser noises playing beneath it. Shock only possesses a small amount of the elegance and gorgeousness of great Bava, and it can't help seeming like a compromised work where Lamberto's influence, whether it extended to directing most of the film or not, was as strong as Mario's. However, it still has that compulsive feeling of dread that exists in all of Mario's horror films, and stays lodged in the mind for far longer than most films along similar lines today. This is partly because, I suppose, lots of jump scares and gore may work wonders on first viewing but can't help but diminish in effect with successive watches, while unsettling moodiness and a really cruel story will always remain as powerful as ever.

Rating: 7.5/10

Apologies for large pic, just can't reduce them on here though can on HCF.

Great review of a cult classic, that always reminded me of Edgar Allen Poe story's, in the way it is filmed more than the script which is a bit of a mess at times, but the visuals like with all of Bava's weaker works, always saves the day.
Keep up the good work this thread needs new life breathed into it.

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"You listen to me now,i will find you and i will kill you!"

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Post #: 84
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 4/6/2014 8:36:32 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4027
Joined: 19/10/2005
Your wish is my command , I aim to review a Bava film a month, and maybe improve on some of my older reviews too.






French call-girl Rosy returns to her basement apartment at night when she immediately receives a series of strange phone calls. The caller soon identifies himself as Frank, her ex-pimp who has recently escaped from prison, Rosy’s testimony having put her there. Rosy phones Mary, an ex-girlfriend with whom Rosy has become estranged, and she comes over to help her, but Frank calls again, promising that no matter what Rosy does, he will have his revenge…..In 19th Century Russia, young nobleman Vladimir Durfe finds a beheaded corpse with a knife plunged into its heart. He is offered a room to stay at a house where a family awaits the return of the father Gorca, who has gone to fight the wurdalak Alibeg, a wurdulak being a living cadaver who feeds on human blood, especially of close friends and family members…..In Victorian England, Nurse Helen Chester, called to prepare the corpse of an elderly medium for her burial, takes an elaborate sapphire ring on its finge, accidentally tipping over a glass of water which drips on the floor as she is then assailed by a fly. Chester takes her ring home to her flat, where that night the fly returns and continues to pester her, the lights in her apartment go out and the sound of the dripping water continues from various locations in the house……

Films which are made up of several short stories seem to flourish especially well in the horror genre, and around Halloween last year I reviewed what might be the best: the 1946 British classic Dead Of Night. However, there is one film [and, in my opinion, only one, despite all those hugely enjoyable Amicus efforts of the 60’s and early 70’s, and a few impressive works that have come out recently] that truly gives it a run for its money. That film is Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath, which is a good title [and was appropriated by the band of the same name when, originally called Earth, they noticed that a cinema showing the film had a longer queue of people waiting to get in then a gig they were playing], though I prefer the original Italian one, which translates as The Three Faces Of Fear. Like most films of this kind, the tales vary in quality, but only because one is good, one is very good and one is absolutely superb and almost a textbook exercise in how to scare, while of course all three look fabulous. As a whole the film, while being by its very nature unable to be as totally satisfactory as some of Bava’s very best pictures, is a fascinating compilation of the director’s favourite subjects and themes and might be the film to see if you want to get a good idea of what he was about but were only able to see one film.

Black Sabbath was the first of nine films where, prompted by the US success of Bava’s Black Sunday and Hercules, American International Pictures would collaborate with Italian production company Galatea. Bava wanted to show fear striking mankind in different time periods and supposedly found three stories for his screenwriters Alberto Bevilacqua and Marcello Fondato to adapt, but it seems like they actually made up two of them themselves, because there’s no evidence of Anton Checkov and Guy de Maupassant, who are credited, writing such tales, though some have claimed that the origins of The Drop Of Water lie in Between Three And Three Thirty by Franco Lucentini. Aleksie Tolstoy did write Curse Of The Wurdulak, the definite inspiration for The Wurdulak. That story starred a true horror star, Boris Karloff, whom early on it was decided would also act as the film’s ‘host’ as he had done in his recent TV series Thriller. Sadly, Bava later blamed himself for speeding up Karloff’s death when Karloff convinced him that he would be fine to do his final scene, an amusing ‘fourth wall’ coda requetsed by AIP when he’s seen astride a hobby horse as people pass branches in front of the camera. Karloff’s respiratory problems got worse and worse afterwards and his health gradually deteriorated until his death in 1969. Ironically, the US cut didn’t even use this footage. AIP heavily altered the film, including replacing Roberto Nicolosi’s score with another, more ‘in your face’ one by Les Baxter, changing the order of the stories, altering gory shots from The Wurdulak and changing sound effects on The Drop Of Water [which actually work well], though the only real damage they made was concerning The Telephone, where they removed the allusions to prostitution and lesbianism and totally changed the ending to a supernatural explanation for the goings-ons. Black Sabbath was a box office success on both sides of the Atlantic and remains one of Bava’s most-seen films.

The Telephone
Considering that the AIP version has been hard to obtain for quite some time until the recent Arrow release of Black Sabbath included it, I’m only going to refer to the Italian version from now on, and it’s just as well with regard to The Telephone, which was made incoherent and pointless for export release. In its original cut, it’s still the weakest of the three stories, and can almost be said to be an appetiser for the other two, but Bava did order the tales so they had a cumulative effect, and The Telephone is still a fine exercise in low-key suspense, making much mileage of how frightening the repeated ringing of a phone can be, then telling us who is really behind the ringing half way through so, in Hitchcock fashion, the tension is actually increased, until we get one of the effective ‘someone sneaking into someone’s house’ scenes ever and an ironic climax. Each of the stories in Black Sabbath concern one of Bava’s favourite themes, and here we have corrupted sexuality leading to violent death. The Telephone has a very unpleasant strangling, but it’s the sleazy atmosphere, achieved despite everything set in one apartment with only three characters, which is most striking, aided immensely by the bright, candy-coloured lighting schemes. You can see the seeds of The Whip And The Body and Blood And Black Lace here, and it also may have influenced the opening of Scream.


The Wurdulak
This second and final Bava exploration of vampirism was also the only time Karloff played a vampire, and his performance, easily the best of his later years, is so good that it transcends the fact that he’s dubbed into Italian. He’s scary, but also has moments of dignity and even sadness. His introduction, as he slowly returns to his family ‘changed’ accompanied by an eerily beautiful blue haze, is unforgettable. The idea of a vampire feeding on his family is a disturbing one, and oddly made more so by most of the bloodsucking occurring off-screen. Instead, the uneasy moments come from more subtle bits like Gorca cradling his grandson, which is both a grandfather showing affection and has an unpleasant whiff of paedophilia. The slow pacing, far from being detrimental, strengthens the extraordinary Gothic feel, the story taking place in a land where everything seems drained of life yet still looks fabulous, with cinematographer Ubaldo Terzani conjuring up simply beautiful shots of bleak, fog-strewn landscapes, old ruins and sinister houses. The entirely studio-created world here is one of the best realised Gothic ones in cinema, rivalling the best of Hammer and Universal, while the story, despite a romantic element, is appropriately nihilistic in keeping with the view of the world that Bava was developing. The favoured Bava theme here is the destruction of the family from within, and there are perhaps seeds of Lisa And The Devil here, though it’s perhaps best seen as a semi-sequel to Black Sunday, me just wishing he’d made it as a feature.

The Drop Of Water
This absolutely terrified me when I first saw Black Sabbath [it was actually the American version], and, though I’ve now seen it too many times for it to work anywhere near as well, it still makes me uneasy and jump near the end. If you’re seeing it for the first time, I just hope that one of your taps doesn’t drip, because it may seriously keep you awake with uneasiness. Me, I didn’t want to hear a damn dripping tap anywhere for several days afterwards. Dealing with Bava’s other two favourite subjects – guilt and demons of the mind, it’s a near perfect exercise in screen terror. It’s creepy right from the very beginning when we see the old lady’s body, her face looking very scary indeed, and oddly more so because if you think about it they don’t really disguise the fact that it’s a dummy. Helen closes the corpse’s eyes, then in the next scene, they’re open again, this really sending a shudder up the spine because of Bava’s mastery of horror. A modern film would probably have shown the eyes open, lessening the impact, or given us some kind of sign that it’s coming [orchestral swell on the soundtrack, etc.]. The only clue we get is the nurse’s shocked reaction, sending a chill on its own, then the shot of the eyes open again, causing another chill. Then we get just incredible tension building back in Helen’s apartment, Bava tightening the screws, until a climactic series of shocks which still work incredibly well. All the time, the whole episode looks amazing, parts of Helen’s apartment being bathed in green and pink which slightly flash. Even if it’s due to lights outside, they wouldn’t have quite this effect, it’s simply because Bava, who was a painter before a filmmaker, was also an absolute genius in creative lighting which not only looks stunning but is extremely effective. The Drop Of Water is a mini horror masterpiece.

Bavas’s films aren’t known for great performances but Jacqueline Pierreux does perfectly well in registering fear in The Drop Of Water and familiar Italian leading man of the time Mark Damon is a decent ‘hero’ in The Wurdulak. Roberto Nicolosi’s score cleverly alters its main theme for each story, so it’s almost unrecognisable, and knows when to hold back so sound effects, or sometimes nothing at all, can take over. To my mind, the light-hearted mood of Karloff’s introductions, though I never tire of seeing the great Karloff, jars a bit with the seriousness of the rest of the film, and The Telephone, while still good, can’t help but lag behind the other two stories in quality, but Black Sabbath remains a perfect example of the pure genius that was Bava, a man able to make mere schlock horror into art, beautiful, disturbing and profound [take, for instance, the cautionary but un-judgemental moral element to his work], and able to do it with budgets that wouldn’t even reach to lunch money in a Hollywood product. For a simple example of his genius, just pay attention to the last shot of The Wurdulak, and notice how all three faces you see are lit in a different way.

Rating: 9/10

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to evil bill)
Post #: 85
RE: Mario Bava - Master Of Italian Horror - 22/9/2014 7:35:44 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 4027
Joined: 19/10/2005

Tourist Lisa Reiner wanders away from her tour group in Toledo and in a shop encounters a man named Leandro who is purchasing a dummy and a carousel Lisa attempted to buy. Due to his resemblance to the portrait of the devil in a fresco she has just seen, Lisa flees, only to be confronted by the man whose dummy Leandro was buying. He says she’s someone else, then falls from a flight of stairs to his death. When she fails to find her way back to the tour group, she takes refuge with a couple and their driver, who agree to help Lisa get to her hotel, but their car breaks down in front of a crumbling mansion, where Lisa discovers Leandro works as the butler and the Countess’s son thinks she’s Elena, his lost love….

Lisa And The Devil is to me Mario Bava’s masterpiece, the film where all his filmmaking skills combined with all his personal obsessions combine to be a beautiful tone-poem of love and death that is also a great movie full-stop, perhaps the most perfect melding of the horror film with the art-house film. Though the more I think about it it seems like in part a far more complex variant on that cheapie creepie classic Carnival Of Souls, it’s one of those films that doesn’t operate on a rational level and, even if you work much of it out, there is still a lot that isn’t explained. One can pick up bits and pieces, and eventually get some kind of picture of the whole thing, but certain aspects remain shrouded in mystery, which makes it all the more enticing to its fans, and there certainly are people out there like me who adore this film and every now and again are drawn back to its mysteries, it’s morbid romanticism, it’s feel of a ‘waking dream’, it’s meta-physical leanings, though it’s certainly Bava’s oddest and most defiantly un-commercial work, and films like this, by their very nature, often fail to do well at the box office. In fact, Lisa And The Devil was treated in an abominable way by its producer Alfredo Leone, the story of its virtual destruction one of the saddest accounts of art being ruined for commerciality in the history of cinema, though it does have a happy ending of sorts.

Bava had just made Baron Blood for Leone, and it was a major success in the US as well as Italy. Leone told Bava he could make whatever he wanted, so Bava responded by making Lisa And The Devil, almost a summation of his themes, but also a project he’d been planning since the mid-60’s, though it seems that elements of a planned film about Victor Ardisson the ‘Vampire Of Muy’ a French graverobber and necrophiliac, as well as Bava’s wish to make a film based on H.P.Lovecraft’s work, heavily influenced it. Bava and Leone wrote the screenplay with uncredited assistance from four others: Giorio Maulini, Romano Migliorini, Roberto Natale and Francesca Rusishka. Bette Davis and Anthony Perkins turned down the parts of the Countess and Maximiliam. Bava thought the film was cursed when Davis’s replacement Alida Valli turned up wearing purple, a colour Bava believed brought bad luck, though things went okay for a while, with Bava enjoying being given total carte blanche on a film for once. Telly Savalas was responsible for the idea of having his character sucking lollipops throughout, something he had taken up in real life as he’d recently quit smoking. It went on a major part of his Kojak character. Filmed largely in Spain with some studio work in Italy, Lisa And The Devil was a film Bava was justifiably proud of, and he took it to Cannes, where it played to enthusiastic and large crowds.

But….nobody would actually buy the film, which was just considered too un-commercial. If Bava had actually produced the film, he could probably have got it out there himself, but it was owned by Leone, who decided to perform an act of butchery in the name of money. Inspired by the success of The Exorcist, imitations of which were very common in Italy at the time, Leone brought back star Elke Sommer to have Bava film scenes where she was possessed by a demon [though Leone ended up directing some of them himself when Bava would just set up scenes involving profanity and strong sexuality and leave the set], with Robert Alda as the troubled priest having to confront her, and the Lisa And The Devil footage, of which about an hour remain in the film, playing as flashbacks of her character. The House Of Exorcism is a total mess of a film, though kind of fun in a trashy way. I feel so sorry for Bava though, having a film in which he invested so much love [though what later happened with Rabid Dogs, a picture I will get to in due course as I go through Bava’s movies, is even sadder] mutilated and his original version disappear after a release in Spain under the title The Devil And The Dead. For years The House Of Exorcism was the only version around, but in 1983, three years after Bava died, a print of Lisa And The Devil was released by Leone and turned up on both UK [good old Moviedrome again] and US TV, and the film gradually got more and more widely seen. It’s worth noting that even versions of Lisa And The Devil sometimes differ slightly, most notably near the end where some versions obscure Sommer’s breasts. And, while it pains me to say this, The House Of Exorcism is worth its inclusion on the Blu-ray and DVD sets as it features more graphic versions of one of Lisa And The Devil’s murder scenes and a sex scene, scenes where Bava obviously shot the footage then toned it down [in fact, an even more graphic version of said sex scene was shot but not used at all].

Lisa And The Devil’s beguiling titles show the face of Savalas and then a deck of cards on which the film’s other characters are revealed. The film actually tells you partly what it’s about there and then, and you can’t help but notice that a painting of the devil on a wall has a distinct resemblance to Savalas, but of course it’s easy to forget that with the almost surreal weirdness that follows. Lisa wonders off and encounters Savalas, now called Leandro, in a shop buying a dummy. Running away, Lisa is then approached by the actual person who the dummy was of and accidently kills him. Bava’s camera zooms in on the man’s broken pocket watch – glass smashed out, hour and minute hands crossed – as an omen suggesting that time is no longer a certainty in this story. She tries to return to where she started, and it’s all quite eerie what with the subtly chilling scoring and the sound of sobbing as she gets hopelessly lost in the [very creepy, despite the daylight] back passages of the town. Eventually it’s night-time, and Lisa seems to have gone into a different time, or even different dimension, as she’s picked up and driven to a strange old mansion where things get even odder. While a love triangle forms involving the driver of the car she was in and the man and wife in the car, Lisa finds herself in a bizarre triangle of her own when Maximilliam, the son of the Countess, thinks she’s his long lost girlfriend, and the man she seemingly killed also turns up to say she’s his. And what’s with Leandro now being the butler, or the mysterious unseen sobbing person locked away in a room, or Lisa’s seeming remembrances of a past life involving the two men, or the dummies who sometimes turn into people and vice versa?

It’s all very confusing for a first time viewer [though I still haven’t worked everything out even now], but I remember absolutely loving the spell the film was casting on that first viewing back in 1983. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand what’s happening in a film – what’s more important is that you’re enjoying it. Many horror fans dislike the very slow pacing, Bava seeming to dwell for ages on seemingly unimportant scenes like a funeral, though we do eventually get some memorably brutal killings like a repeated running over by car and a bludgeoning where the blood goes all over the camera lens. Bava mostly goes more for beauty and sadness then typical horror devices though. There’s a lengthy scene of necrophilia where the dead woman is being made love to in a bed [the same one that featured in Black Sabbath and A Hatchet For A Honeymoon] beside a skeleton, and, instead of being horrific and disgusting, it’s a sequence of intense morbid romanticism set to Rodrigo’s gorgeous Concerto per Aranjuez. Then you have what is one of the single most gorgeous shots in the history of the cinema. Lisa leaves the mansion, which is overgrown, and for a few seconds the viewer is treated, in soft-focus, to a sublimely beautiful shot of autumnal vegetation covering the house. It’s brief, and easy to miss, but totally stunning.

Of course being a Bava film Lisa And The Devil is full of unforgettable shots where Bava [the cinematography is credited to Cecilio Paniagua, but of course all Bava fans know that he pretty much did it himself] makes what would seem ordinary looks magnificent. Spilled red wine on the dining room floor shimmers almost translucently. A couple kissing reflected in the mirror of a make-up box is a trippy blur of strange shapes. There is actually less darkness than usual, and less games of light with colours such as blue and pink. Bava instead opts to stage much of the action in bright surroundings – even night-time scenes somehow seem to glow – and emphasise both the majesty and decay of his primary location rather than set up weird and wonderful colour schemes of his own, but this film still looks magnificent throughout, Bava and Paniagua constantly finding new ways to make something look unusual or interesting. There’s something off-kilter about virtually every scene, with small details helping to give the proceedings a dream-like feel even if you don’t notice them, while the camera either tends to adopt an observing distance or slowly circle round its characters. In fact, the film is full of emphasised circles [notice, for example, how many times we are shown the figures in a musical box going round and round], which certainly gives you some, if not much, idea of what is going on.

Lisa And The Devil’s characters seem to exist in some kind of purgatory. Some of them appear to exist in different times to others, yet still interrelate with them. Most of them also have their own mannequins at various points, some sporting injuries, which leads to a darkly amusing variant on the Last Supper, though I’m not going to go into a detailed explanation of everything in the film. In any case, all of Bava’s favourite themes, from major ones like the cyclical nature of violence and the weakness and destruction of the family from within to minor, less-mentioned but also quite common ones like necrophilia and sexual inadequacy, are here, and usually taken about as far as they could go. Bava’s usual wry, knowing humour is mostly restricted to Leandro, my favourite screen portrayal of the Devil. Satan here is a world-weary jester who speaks aloud as if to the audience. He seems to tire of his work and seems to be there because the others need him, but his humour gets him by. Savalas sometimes seems to exist in his own little film separate from everyone else, but his scenes give the mostly very heavy-going proceedings some levity, whether he’s sticking one of his lollipops into a dummy’s head or breaking the legs of a corpse so it fits into the coffin. The most unsatisfying aspect of the film to me is Lisa herself. Elke Sommer does fine in the part, but she doesn’t really have a character to play, and even after multiple viewings over the years, I’m still unsure of the entirety of her role is in the story, or more to the point if she deserves her fate.

Carlo Savina’s score is an important ingredient in Lisa And The Devil, elegant, gorgeous and uncanny without really ever becoming typical horror film music. His lovely Ennio Morricone-like main theme, which mixes in touches of the Concerto per Aranjuez but in a tasteful manner so it seems like a natural development of the piece rather than tacky plagiarisation, is a lovely creation and it’s a great tragedy of film music that the soundtrack remains unavailable, though for a while the film wasn’t exactly available either, but it eventually turned up. It still seem destined to remain a bit obscure, the kind of film that will usually be ignored by the snobby art-house critic who will jump over anything by someone like Federico Fellini and ignore stuff from people like Bava because they mostly worked in often disreputable genres like horror, yet is often just as a work of art. By contrast, horror fans, because the genre can result in such different work and so much experimentation, are often some of the most open-minded film-lovers you can get, so are often more willing to embrace such films. A while back, I reviewed Death In Venice, regarded by many as a great work of art. Lisa And The Devil is just as worthy of being called one.

9.5/10

_____________________________

check out more of my reviews on http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/

(in reply to Dr Lenera)
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