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View Full Version : The Films of Mario Bava - Round Two



Troy Howarth
02-03-2011, 10:36 AM
Since the old thread has gotten a little unwieldly, it's time to shut it down and continue discussion about the Maestro and his films here... Have at it!

alex v.
02-08-2011, 02:48 PM
Hi guys, long time lurker first time poster.

Ok so on the subject of Mario Bava. Why was this man never recognized has a genius during his lifetime? His talent his there for everybody to see in the majority of movies he directed. Is it because he worked in genre pictures like Horror, Peplas and Westerns?

I do know that the french critics who ran The Midi-Minuit Fantastique magazine in the sixties had great admiration for him. I have read the Encyclopedie Du Cinema Fantastique wich they put out in 1974 where there is a long article on Bava. they call him a genius and consider Whip And The Body his greatest work. But aside from them was there anybody in the Sixties and Seventies who considered Bava a genius? And treated him with the same respect Bunuel, Fellini or DeSica were getting?

Troy Howarth
02-08-2011, 03:01 PM
I believe there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, he elected to work in genre fare. Secondly, he made every effort possible to sabotage any attempts to take him seriously whenever he was interviewed. He took great pride in his work, and like anybody else he was hurt when the reviews were unkind, but he valued being able to work in a low key, anonymous fashion and rejected any attempts to be taken too seriously. Two of the very few Italian journalists who took him seriously and reviewed his movies seriously were... Dario Argento and Luigi Cozzi.

Charlie_G
02-08-2011, 03:42 PM
I always perceived Bava as the van Gogh of genre fare. Little appreciated during his lifetime, but famous after his death.

Garrett Sorensen
02-11-2011, 03:13 AM
Sadly, I think part of the reason Bava wasn't put up there with the other greats at the time was that pretty much all of his available films were flawed in some way. I don't think Troy will agree with me, but I think his more perfectly realized and interesting films either didn't see the light of day (Rabid Dogs, Lisa and the Devil) or were not seen as what they really were (Bay of Blood.) Yes, I could go into the tiny flaws of such films as Whip & the Body and Kill Baby Kill, but I still love these films to death. However, had even a schlocky film like Planet of the Vampires managed to not been so flatly acted and scripted then we wouldn't need a reminder to include it in our list of fave sc-fi films, because it is, like all Bava films, simply breathtaking.

alex v.
02-11-2011, 03:16 PM
I think that if you had showed Blood And Black Lace to critics in the Sixties and told them it was the new Hitchcock movie they would have hailed it has a masterpiece. But because it was made by 'some dude from Italy' it was ignored. That was the dumb Auteur Theory wich made people judge a film on who directed it rather than the quality of the film itself.

Troy Howarth
02-11-2011, 03:22 PM
Well, I do subscribe to the auteur theory, so I'll take you to task on this. :) Here we are talking about Mario Bava - we must adhere to the theory somewhat, in that we recognize that he, as a filmmaker, was somebody special. I do believe that there is a bias against low budget genre films, and in that respect I agree - if the films had been sold as being directed by Hitchcock or Fellini or Visconti or whomever, they would have been praised more widely.

Troy Howarth
02-11-2011, 03:23 PM
Sadly, I think part of the reason Bava wasn't put up there with the other greats at the time was that pretty much all of his available films were flawed in some way. I don't think Troy will agree with me, but I think his more perfectly realized and interesting films either didn't see the light of day (Rabid Dogs, Lisa and the Devil) or were not seen as what they really were (Bay of Blood.) Yes, I could go into the tiny flaws of such films as Whip & the Body and Kill Baby Kill, but I still love these films to death. However, had even a schlocky film like Planet of the Vampires managed to not been so flatly acted and scripted then we wouldn't need a reminder to include it in our list of fave sc-fi films, because it is, like all Bava films, simply breathtaking.

ALL films are flawed to some extent or another. Do some of Bava's films suffer from more obvious defects than others? Of course - but this is true of all filmmakers. I don't think it's fair to say that the acting is flat - very often it's simply the dubbing.

John G.
02-11-2011, 03:28 PM
The problem with Planet of the Vampires is that the initial trappings make the film seem as if it's going to be a goofy b-film, essentially sabotaging it before it even has a chance... of course, once they land on the planet Bava pulls out all the stops with those glorious colors and the swirling mist. It's a wonderful film but it's a shame those space-suits have to look so ridiculous...

Troy Howarth
02-11-2011, 03:33 PM
I like the fetishistic quality of the suits, but yeah - the film starts off on a rocky note (as does Hercules in the Haunted World), and that doesn't help it; it doesn't give a more unforgiving audience an 'in' to give it a chance.

alex v.
02-11-2011, 03:34 PM
Isn't it bizarre that so many critics who followed the Auteur Theory praised low buget filmakers like Edgar G. Ulmer and Samuel Fuller but showed complete indifference if not contempt for Mario Bava and Terence Fisher. Never understood that.

BTW my problem with the Auteur Theory is that it glorifies the Director and pushes all the other creators in the background. I think, for example, that Ernesto Gastaldi should be recognized as much as Bava for The Whip And The Body.

Troy Howarth
02-11-2011, 03:38 PM
Whip is literally the only instance I can think of in Bava's work where he took a script and basically shot it as written - he made some key changes, but basically he liked the script and stuck with it. Bava tended to toss aside the script and improvise as a general rule. Yes filmmaking is a collaborative process, but there are filmmakers who fit the auteur model, and there are those that don't. Being an auteur doesn't mean you're a great director - it merely means that there is a through line (thematic or otherwise) that connects all the disparate works. It's a theory, but it's a theory with much merit. Alas, it is sometimes misapplied and misunderstood. It is possible - and it does happen on occasion - to apply the theory to other people than the director. Consider, for example, David O. Selznick and Val Lewton.

Incidentally, while it's a shame Bava and Fisher weren't better regarded in their time, that's not to say that Fuller and Ulmer weren't deserving of the praise they received.

Alex K.
02-12-2011, 02:31 AM
I never knew Bava ad-libbed so much. Interesting.

Troy Howarth
02-12-2011, 04:27 AM
It wasn't unusual for him to just toss the script aside. Cameron Mitchell said that no matter how many names were on the screenplay credit, it was basically Bava's work. Sometimes the on-the-fly approach resulted in narrative hiccups, but sometimes it was seamless. Kill, Baby, Kill! for instance was basically ad libbed from a slim treatment .

alex v.
02-12-2011, 02:35 PM
Bava said he approached films as a challenge. In Blood And Black Lace for example he was asked to do a Krimi in color. Bava turned the Krimi genre upside down by focusing on the murder scenes and putting the police procedural stuff in the background. What do you think he was trying to do with Operazione Paura? There are elements of a ghost story, a town under a curse, science vs superstition. It's a fascinating movie, I watched it many times and I feel Bava has some kind of hidden narrative or meaning in that film.

Troy Howarth
02-12-2011, 04:23 PM
KBK was a story that originated with Bava and his cowriters... I don't think there was ever a finished script, per se, but the story goes that he wanted to do it and made a bet that he could make it in some absurdly short period of time; he succeeded, even though the film ran out of money - everybody donated their services out of respect for him and the project. Honestly, I think the narrative addresses the concept of the unconscious - it's a very slipperly, precarious movie, but it does have a real substance to it that makes it more than just another prettily composed gothic.

alex v.
02-12-2011, 06:14 PM
Do you know why Operazione Paura was not distributed by AIP in the United States? Did Bava had a deal with them?

Troy Howarth
02-12-2011, 06:38 PM
Bava had a falling out with AIP after the fiasco of Dr. Goldfoot. They didn't take an interest in him again until Baron Blood, and indeed Arkoff wanted to buy Lisa and the Devil sight unseen, but Alfredo Leone held out for more cash... when the film had no takers, I bet he regretted not jumping on the offer.

alex v.
02-16-2011, 01:09 AM
According to the IMDB, Hatchet For The Honeymoon was filmed in September-October 1968 but only released in June 1970. Anybody know the reason for such a delay?

Troy Howarth
02-16-2011, 07:32 AM
The filming was interrupted when the production ran out of money, so it wasn't actually finished until 1969, IIRC. Funnily enough, Bava's subsequent film, Four Times That Night, was also temporarily disrupted by money woes.

Tim Young
02-16-2011, 03:02 PM
Just a quick question. I watched 'Black Sabbath' a little while ago, but reading an online synopsis about the "Telephone" chapter it refers to the main character as a call-girl and the man as her pimp. I don't remember this being directly referenced in the script, is it derived from the English language dub or is it a subtlety I didn't pick up?

Troy Howarth
02-16-2011, 03:04 PM
The film doesn't spell it out explicitly, as I recall, but that's how I've always read it. In the English dub the whole thing is changed in an attempt to turn it into a ghost story.

Jens Thomsen
02-16-2011, 06:09 PM
Boy, oh boy, I'm going to watch 'Blood and Black Lace' and 'Black Sabath' tomorrow in (hopefully) glorious 35mm in our national film museum in Copenhagen. I hope they managed to dig up some prints in good condition. I know there are people who have worked very long for this to come true.

Troy Howarth
02-17-2011, 08:48 PM
I'm very envious! I'd love to see at least one of Bava's films projected in 35mm, but I don't know that I'll ever be that lucky. Something like Blood and Black Lace would surely leap off the screen.

Jens Thomsen
02-18-2011, 07:22 AM
Much to everybody's surprise both prints turned out to be old Danish release prints. 'Black Sabbath' was very faded and quite red, but a fun film to watch nevertheless. I still don't care much for the 'The Telephone' segment, but 'The Drop of Water' was surprisingly effective on a big screen. It was the international English version with the sequence: 'The Drop of Water', 'The Telephone', and 'The Wurdalak'. The line by Karloff "what's wrong, woman? Can't I fondle my own grandchild" probably got the biggest roar of laughter of the night. I'm not sure a line like that would be seen as appropriate in a film today.

'Blood and Black Lace' (with the fun Danish title 'Jernhånden i rædselsnatten - 'The Iron Fist in the Night of Terror') was luckily a much better print. But maybe that's not so surprising as the film was only released here in the beginning of the 1970's, making the print around ten years younger than the 'Black Sabbath' print. Colors were strong and vivid except for a single reel that was extremely faded and almost completely red. Fortunately that reel contained only dialogue and none of the murder scenes. Colors were back in the reel after it.

Most of us agreed that the print appeared to have been slightly cut compared to the Austrian DVD released by Anolis - the bathroom murder seemed shorter, but I need to locate my DVD to be sure. It was really a treat to watch it on a big screen, though. As always in these kind of shows there were a lot of people giggling at the action, but that stopped when the rather gruesome murder-by-oven scene was shown. The colors and texture of the film were really amazing.

Troy Howarth
02-18-2011, 07:41 AM
If you're going by the US edit, The Telephone is pretty dismal; the original Italian version is much, much better. Glad to hear B&BL had the power to shut up the hipster doofuses! :)

Scott MacDonald
02-24-2011, 12:24 AM
Here is the ECAV review of Bay of Blood on Blu-ray.

http://eurocultav.com/Reviews/Bay_of_Blood__Arrow_Blu-ray_/bay_of_blood__arrow_blu-ray_.html

Richard Carter
02-24-2011, 01:11 AM
I'm very envious! I'd love to see at least one of Bava's films projected in 35mm, but I don't know that I'll ever be that lucky. Something like Blood and Black Lace would surely leap off the screen.

I saw it on the big screen as a teenager. I remember being very impressed with the colour. I also remember thinking it was the most sadistic movie I'd ever seen (which at that time in my life I guess it was).

Tim Young
03-21-2011, 07:33 AM
Sorry, just another quick Bava question. In Black Sunday, a big deal is made of the pictures over the fireplace being of the witch and her assistant, which in the English dub at least leaves the unanswered question of just why those pictures would have been left there. Someone on this or another forum once alluded to this being explained in the Italian dub but since it is still not available with English subtitles, I was just wondering if this was the case and what the given reason was?

Troy Howarth
03-21-2011, 07:37 AM
I don't recall, to be honest. I have the Italian version on DVD, but sadly it's without English subs. Even without subs I can tell it plays soooo much better than it does in the dismal English dub.

alex v.
05-16-2011, 04:42 PM
I was watching the House Of Exorcism DVD with commentary last night and in it Alfred Leone says that HOE made over 5 million dollars in the United States (at 75 cents a ticket that means a huge success) but that he never saw a penny of it because of the american distributor Peppercorn-Wormser Film Enterprises. Leone says he'll get into details some other times but I've never heard or read more about it. Anybody got more on this?

Tim Young
09-15-2011, 06:05 PM
Finally got around to watching Bava's two early Westerns, La strada per Forte Alamo (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Road%20to%20Fort%20Alamo.html) and Ringo del Nebraska (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Ringo%20del%20Nebraska.html). While Spaghetti Western fans might enjoy these, they are not really too exciting for Bava collectors with very little of his trademark style.

Garrett Sorensen
09-19-2011, 03:40 AM
Savage Gringo is Bava-less to me, and Road to Fort Alamo is frustratingly close to being fully Bava (imagine the indians really being ghosts and attacking every night.) As it is his best western is easily Knives of the Avenger.

Tim Young
09-19-2011, 05:10 AM
Another Bava review - Four Times that Night (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Four%20Times%20that%20Night.html), an interesting but poorly executed Rashamon inspired sex comedy.

John G.
09-19-2011, 12:40 PM
I must be the only person who enjoys Roy Colt and Winchester Jack. :)

Jonathan Douglas
09-19-2011, 03:35 PM
Saw KILL BABY KILL recently, while the storyline is not great sometimes these things matter less when the imagery holds your attention, and it's one of those cases here. Probably not too terrible a place to start for Bava newbies and fantasy fans, I think particularly Hammer goths will like its style.

Troy Howarth
09-19-2011, 07:52 PM
I don't DISLIKE Roy Colt, John. It's definitely one of his weaker films, but it's by no means worthless. Fort Alamo plays much better to me now, having seen a colorful print at long last, but I think Nebraska Jim/Savage Gringo is far and away his best 'conventional' western. I love Four Times That Night - nothing poorly executed about it at all, IMO.

Garrett Sorensen
09-19-2011, 08:35 PM
I may prefer Roy Colt over his other 2. It had no hope for success but at least it stands out. I also prefer Four Times that Night to the overlong Rashomon, I find it far more interesting in a gender study way.

Troy Howarth
09-19-2011, 09:55 PM
I know its become conventional wisdom that the American version of Four Times That Night isn't worthy of being released... but I think that's BS. The English dubbing isn't nearly so appalling as some make it out to be - and some of the jokes play better that way, IMO. It also offers some more skin and extended sex scenes, though I'm sure Bava himself did prefer the more genteel approach of the Italian edit. Even so, I think it SHOULD be preserved on video for those of us who give a damn about the film.

Daniel M
09-19-2011, 10:46 PM
I'm very envious! I'd love to see at least one of Bava's films projected in 35mm, but I don't know that I'll ever be that lucky. Something like Blood and Black Lace would surely leap off the screen.

The only Bava I've seen properly projected in 35mm was a screening of HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD at the Egyptian. It was downright hypnotic at times, a true "fantasy" captured on celluloid.

I was introduced to BLACK SUNDAY via a beat-up and spliced-to-shit rented 16mm print; it was hardly the ideal way to see the film for the first time, but I fell in love with it - and Barbara Steele - anyway.

Tim Young
09-20-2011, 02:55 PM
Just a quick question - which would people recommend watching first, Rabid Dogs or Kidnapped?

Richard Owen
09-20-2011, 03:00 PM
Rabid Dogs. Without a doubt.

Troy Howarth
09-20-2011, 08:18 PM
Just a quick question - which would people recommend watching first, Rabid Dogs or Kidnapped?

Kidnapped is only of interest for the completists... Rabid Dogs is far nearer what Bava intended, IMO.

LenL
09-26-2011, 12:20 PM
I introduced my film studies professor to Bava!

For all his knowledge, which is quite considerable, he has amazingly enough, never heard of Mario Bava, I was waxing lyrical to him any chance I got to how great Bava was, telling him about his influence on A list directors, his mastery of mise en scene, his ability to work with shoestring budgets etc...

Finally I lent him my copy of Kill Baby Kill last class. He was excited and said he will let me know what he thinks of the film.

I will update yall on any new developments on this front!

John G.
09-26-2011, 12:34 PM
Took a look at Bava's last theatrical feature, Shock, and I found a really effective horror story on a small, intimate scale with a strong central performance by Daria Nicolodi, who never looked more beautiful. I know some like to suggest that this feels more like a Lamberto film (he directed some minor scenes). However, I found the film struck a nice balance between the atmospheric horror of the past with a nod to the gory stuff that Lamberto would specialize with in his own films in the early 80s (peaking with the first Demons).

Tim Young
09-26-2011, 01:03 PM
For all his knowledge, which is quite considerable, he has amazingly enough, never heard of Mario Bava, I was waxing lyrical to him any chance I got to how great Bava was, telling him about his influence on A list directors, his mastery of mise en scene, his ability to work with shoestring budgets etc...

Sadly not uncommon - most Italian genre directors seem to disappear into the vast wasteland between arthouse critics, who will despise anything that has a hint of horror about it, and mainstream horror fans who will avoid anything with subtitles, in black and white or "old". In numerous discussions with film fans down the years, apart from at dedicated film festivals I don't think I have ever actually physically met someone else who has seen a Bava or Argento film, let alone many of the lesser known directors. How many people out there think that the Spaghetti Western was just Leone? That the slasher film is a purely American concept? etc. etc.

Troy Howarth
09-26-2011, 08:28 PM
I introduced my film studies professor to Bava!

For all his knowledge, which is quite considerable, he has amazingly enough, never heard of Mario Bava, I was waxing lyrical to him any chance I got to how great Bava was, telling him about his influence on A list directors, his mastery of mise en scene, his ability to work with shoestring budgets etc...

Finally I lent him my copy of Kill Baby Kill last class. He was excited and said he will let me know what he thinks of the film.

I will update yall on any new developments on this front!

You sound like me about 10 years ago! :D I also just sort of assumed that Bava was well known among film buffs, but my very learned film class professors had never heard of him - they reacted favorably to the films of his that I showed them, so that was nice.

Troy Howarth
09-26-2011, 08:29 PM
Took a look at Bava's last theatrical feature, Shock, and I found a really effective horror story on a small, intimate scale with a strong central performance by Daria Nicolodi, who never looked more beautiful. I know some like to suggest that this feels more like a Lamberto film (he directed some minor scenes). However, I found the film struck a nice balance between the atmospheric horror of the past with a nod to the gory stuff that Lamberto would specialize with in his own films in the early 80s (peaking with the first Demons).

It's a good film, though I prefer his last film, Venus of Ille, which was also codirected by his son, and also starred Nicolodi. I don't find it so beautifully stylish as his earlier work, but Shock has some damn good scares - and it's definitely Nicolodi's best performance. Much as she likes to put down Argento these days, she has never spoken with anything but love and reverence when it comes to Bava.

Daniel M
09-26-2011, 09:42 PM
I love SHOCK. I think it feels very consistent with most of Bava's 70s work. As I understand it, Mario would begin directing the film each morning, and as exhaustion set in, he would simply hand the reigns over to Lamberto and go home to bed. Has anyone else heard this?

John G.
09-26-2011, 10:06 PM
On the DVD I have, Lamberto jokes that his father would give him scenes that he didn't think he would "mess up" too badly. :D

Troy Howarth
09-26-2011, 10:38 PM
That's basically it, John - and that was a tactic Bava began to employ on Twitch of the Death Nerve. Bava allowed lamberto to direct most of the scenes with the teens on that one - but in all these instances, he provided Lamberto with storyboards to work from. He wanted Lamberto to step up and get experience and confidence behind the camera; he did not want him to wait too long to start his career as a director... Bava felt he waited too long to get started and didn't want him to make the same mistake.

Garrett Sorensen
09-27-2011, 01:17 PM
I consider Shock to be the Bava film that your average modern horror fan wouldn't have to stretch too much to enjoy. That is to say, it is simple and scary with an oddly gritty atmosphere not unlike Lamberto's Macabre. However, Venus of Ille was much more impressive for me. Sort of a horror Masterpiece Theater. I wonder why it hasn't been bundled into special features somewhere?

Troy Howarth
09-27-2011, 08:55 PM
I read years ago that Alfredo Leone was trying to secure the rights to Bava's TV work, but nothing has come of it to date that I'm aware of.

Robert Wilkins
10-01-2011, 10:01 PM
Maybe Troy might know the answer to this, but what was the biggest budget Bava ever had to work with?

Troy Howarth
10-01-2011, 10:15 PM
Diabolik. The story goes that he was given $3,000,000 by DeLaurentiis, but brought it in for about $400,000 through sheer technical ingenuity.

Robert Wilkins
10-01-2011, 11:00 PM
Diabolik. The story goes that he was given $3,000,000 by DeLaurentiis, but brought it in for about $400,000 through sheer technical ingenuity.

If only Bava agreed to do a sequel...

LenL
10-01-2011, 11:23 PM
Okay, a little bit of an update. I'm happy to report that my Film Studies professor absolutely loved Kill Baby Kill! He admitted that he had low expectations going in, that he thought it would be just gore and schlock. But he was very surprised at how intelligent and well directed it was. He liked the psychological horror aspect of it, and loved the hitchcock homage (spiral staircase), as well as the doppelganger scene. He also said that he can definitely see how the look of Del Toro's Pans Labyrinth was inspired in part by Bava, something that I had written in my essay (which I got an 85 on).

I then gave him Black Sunday to view. I will let you guys know what he thinks of it.

I plan on also giving him The Girl Who Knew Too Much, and maybe Rabid dogs. Any other suggestions for Bava films to show him? Remember that he's an "intellectual" type of film guy so I doubt he would enjoy Bay of Blood or something like that.

Anyway, I'm glad I was able to spread the gospel on Bava. Just a shame that he's so unknown.

alex v.
10-02-2011, 01:30 AM
I'm glad I was able to spread the gospel on Bava. Just a shame that he's so unknown.

He's not unknown everywhere. I first read about Bava about 20 years ago in an Horror film encyclopedia (from 1974) written by some of the staff of the french magazine Midi-Minuit Fantastique. Bava had quite a reputation among some French critics as a great director. Everything you read about Bava today these people were already saying in the 1960s and 70s. Genre movies have such a bad reputation among many people and Bava's films were rarely seen in their original versions until recently in North America that it was difficult for him to get the kind of respect and attention he deserves. A lot has been done in recent years to rectify that.

Troy Howarth
10-02-2011, 11:11 AM
The French have always been ahead of the curve with regards to genre cinema. People like Bava, Argento, Fisher, Carpenter, etc have been renowned as true artists over there for many years, whereas in the US, for example, they're still seen as non-entities.

Jonathan Douglas
10-02-2011, 01:38 PM
Okay, a little bit of an update. I'm happy to report that my Film Studies professor absolutely loved Kill Baby Kill! He admitted that he had low expectations going in, that he thought it would be just gore and schlock. But he was very surprised at how intelligent and well directed it was. He liked the psychological horror aspect of it, and loved the hitchcock homage (spiral staircase), as well as the doppelganger scene. He also said that he can definitely see how the look of Del Toro's Pans Labyrinth was inspired in part by Bava, something that I had written in my essay (which I got an 85 on).

I then gave him Black Sunday to view. I will let you guys know what he thinks of it.

I plan on also giving him The Girl Who Knew Too Much, and maybe Rabid dogs. Any other suggestions for Bava films to show him? Remember that he's an "intellectual" type of film guy so I doubt he would enjoy Bay of Blood or something like that.

Anyway, I'm glad I was able to spread the gospel on Bava. Just a shame that he's so unknown.

I don't know if I'd myself call KBK an intelligent film to be honest, but it's a very good sign that he enjoyed it. Has he seen the brilliant BLACK SABBATH? That's a given, I'd say. And PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES too, if the title doesn't turn him off, is another striking film most people like as well.

Troy Howarth
10-02-2011, 01:40 PM
What makes it unintelligent, then? I'd say it tells a simple story with great effectiveness - and that, to me, is a sure sign of cinematic intelligence. Is it a deep probing sociological survey? No. But that's OK. :)

Jonathan Douglas
10-02-2011, 06:01 PM
One minor gripe I have with it, is when we first see the old woman we only see an old frightened woman, but we have no idea who she is. Then the scene is over. She returns of course, but her introduction is the film's weak spot. Is she another victim or is she a more important character, we just don't know then and feel a little baffled. We could say it's typical Italian cinematic tradition, the idea of a scenario often the driving force rather than narrative sense, other than that it's a good little spooky film so this is not a huge put down in any way on the film. :cool:

Troy Howarth
10-02-2011, 06:15 PM
Interesting; I never thought of that as a weak spot at all... and admit, I still don't.

Brian W
10-02-2011, 08:25 PM
Okay, a little bit of an update. I'm happy to report that my Film Studies professor absolutely loved Kill Baby Kill! He admitted that he had low expectations going in, that he thought it would be just gore and schlock. But he was very surprised at how intelligent and well directed it was. He liked the psychological horror aspect of it, and loved the hitchcock homage (spiral staircase), as well as the doppelganger scene. He also said that he can definitely see how the look of Del Toro's Pans Labyrinth was inspired in part by Bava, something that I had written in my essay (which I got an 85 on).

I then gave him Black Sunday to view. I will let you guys know what he thinks of it.

I plan on also giving him The Girl Who Knew Too Much, and maybe Rabid dogs. Any other suggestions for Bava films to show him? Remember that he's an "intellectual" type of film guy so I doubt he would enjoy Bay of Blood or something like that.

Anyway, I'm glad I was able to spread the gospel on Bava. Just a shame that he's so unknown.

I would suggest WHIP AND THE BODY and BLOOD AND BLACK LACE.

I know B&BL is a body count movie but...It has style up the wazoo!
Expand his horizons.:)::

LenL
10-06-2011, 05:33 PM
Okay another update folks. Turns out my films studies prof was very impressed with Black Sunday too! I'm 2 for 2 so far. I didn't ask him which one he liked better though. He said that he loved the Mise en scene of Bava's vision and that it was more erotic and sexy than kill baby kill. I think he was impressed with Barbara Steele's ability to be both sexy and scary at the same time. He said that the film was a little bit cheesy, but it was the good kind of cheese (He also used the term "good cheese" to describe Casablanca so go figure).

Next I'm going to show him The Girl Who Knew Too Much since my prof is big on Hitchcock and this film is like Bava's homage to Hitchcock.

I think Whip and the Body or Rabid Dogs might be next.

Troy Howarth
10-06-2011, 07:55 PM
Keep up updated, Len! Personally I prefer KBK to Black Sunday, but I'm in the minority on that one!

LenL
10-07-2011, 08:20 PM
Yeah I like KBK better too, but not by much. They're both great.

Tim Young
10-08-2011, 04:04 PM
I'll back you on KBK - the acting is better, the music is better and is does not have that daft fistfight at the end.

This last week I have been watching Bava's trilogy of twisted Giallo films from the early 1970s.

Five Dolls for an August Moon (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Five%20Dolls%20for%20an%20August%20Moon.html) (1970) is certainly the most conventional of the three but still has a very strange atmosphere, sees most of the killings take place off screen and seems to reveal the killer part way through… or not.

A Bay of Blood (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Bay%20of%20Blood.html) (1971) has a very mixed up plot for a Giallo (although it does at least all resolve) but is most interesting for its twenty minute slasher movie sequence – made almost a decade before the slasher movie boom.

Hatchet for the Honeymoon (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Hatchet%20for%20the%20Honeymoon.html) (1970) is certainly the best of the trilogy and one of Bava’s very best. A psycho killer take on the genre, the main character is hunting the killer of his mother, a killer whose identity is blurred in his mind and revealed piece by piece when he kills…

Troy Howarth
10-08-2011, 07:29 PM
Bay is my favorite of the three, though they all have things to recommend.

Andrew Ellis
10-09-2011, 01:47 PM
"Bay of Blood" is certainly the best by general agreement, but I think "Five Dolls" is an underrated film. Bava himself didn't really like it, I know, but those two films kind of go together in my mind and they form a connection between the Agatha Christie's classic mass-murder mystery "Ten Little Indians" and the 80's American slasher films.

"Bay" is a lot bloodier, but they both have a nice macabre sense of humor and a lot of unique Bava touches. "Five Dolls" is also an early giallo role for Edwige Fenech and a good role for Ely Galeani, who was pretty much wasted after that (except for a supporting role in "Lizard in Women's Skin" and softcore porn roles in a couple "Black Emmanuelle" films). "Five Dolls" is not a masterpiece (and it's too short), but I think it's pretty OK.

Troy Howarth
10-09-2011, 06:36 PM
Bava was one of those rare working directors who invested himself in every project - his work is always recognizable. So while he hated the script for Five Dolls and hated the whole experience of making it (it was apparently very rushed, even by his standards), it still has moments of sheer genius in it.

alex v.
10-10-2011, 01:55 PM
Hatchet for the Honeymoon (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Hatchet%20for%20the%20Honeymoon.html) (1970) is certainly the best of the trilogy and one of Bava’s very best. A psycho killer take on the genre, the main character is hunting the killer of his mother, a killer whose identity is blurred in his mind and revealed piece by piece when he kills…

I think Hatchet is probably Bava's most underrated film. I love how it starts as a Giallo but then becomes a dark comedy once the ghost of Mildred (the spectacular Laura Betti) starts appearing everywhere. John Harrington goes from being a scary killer to a pathetic guy. Love the scene where he goes to a club with a bag full of Mildred's ashes and tries to pick up women.

Tim Young
10-10-2011, 06:53 PM
I wonder if the train scene in 'Hatchet' is a deliberate joke at the expense of Riccardo Freda after those terrible train scenes in 'Liz & Helen'?

Brian W
10-20-2011, 07:02 PM
I suppose I'm the only one who loves BARON BLOOD so much that I save it for one of the best times of the year...HALLOWEEN!:cool:

Tim Young
10-27-2011, 03:41 PM
Just been watching Lisa and the Devil (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Lisa%20and%20the%20Devil.html) and its horrible exploitation re-edit House of Exorcism (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/House%20of%20Exorcism.html).

Plus I have finally completed my all new 4000 word Mario Bava biography (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/links_pages/Mario%20Bava.html).

Brian W
10-30-2011, 06:53 PM
Last night I watched BLACK SUNDAY for the first time in a few years.

I wonder if Mario ever talked about mixing Witch's with Vampires?

Garrett Sorensen
10-30-2011, 09:36 PM
Cool bio Tim. Interesting you consider Hatchet better than Bay of Blood, although I can't really argue aginst it. I agree on many of your rating though Rabid Dogs would be required viewing IMO. One note, wasn't Hercules in the Haunted World his first color picture?

In hindsight I would say Bava's most socially redeeming film is Wurdulak, with Four Times that Night not far behind. His most successfully dramatic is Rabid Dogs with Knives of the Avenger not too far away. His most cerebrally interesting being Lisa and the Devil.

LenL
11-05-2011, 12:35 PM
Yeah excellent bio Tim, I have been following Mondo Esoterica for years. I noticed your stance on Whip and the Body has softened.

There's not much of an update on my part since my Prof hasn't gotten around to watching The Girl Who Knew too Much yet. I actually tested him a bit. I told him that as much as I loved Bava, I acknowledged that he certainly isn't a perfect director, some of his films lack plot, character development, and has hammy acting. Instead of agreeing with me, to my surprise, my Prof actually jumped to Bava's defence and said he can forgive all that because of the gorgeous cinematography and misc en scene of his films. Imagine that! My film studies prof is officially a Bava admirer. Its good to spread the word.

Tim Young
11-06-2011, 06:25 PM
Yeah excellent bio Tim, I have been following Mondo Esoterica for years. I noticed your stance on Whip and the Body has softened.

Thanks for the comments, yes I like to rewatch films occasionally and I can often change my stance completely, so I like to rewrite reviews accordingly.

I have finally finished my Bava season with a review of Shock (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Shock.html), rather forgettable really and more like a Fulci film than a Bava one.

LenL
12-03-2011, 01:24 PM
My Film Studies Prof finally got around to watching the Girl who Knew Too Much. He said it was his favorite out of the three films he's seen and he already liked the other two as well. I didn't get a chance to talk to him beyond that but I'll get back to you guys when I get a chance to speak with him again. I think I will show him Rabid Dogs next.

Robert Wilkins
12-05-2011, 09:02 PM
Thanks for the comments, yes I like to rewatch films occasionally and I can often change my stance completely, so I like to rewrite reviews accordingly.

I have finally finished my Bava season with a review of Shock (http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/Shock.html), rather forgettable really and more like a Fulci film than a Bava one.

I think as a haunted house flick it works very well. As for it being forgettable... Well it's not Bava at his peak, but it still has some very effective touches. Also, I think Nicolodi turned in a very good performance.

J Hurtado
12-05-2011, 10:48 PM
FWIW, Tim Lucas is offering his book at a $100 discount through December 10th. I still can't afford it, but that is a pretty damned good deal

Troy Howarth
12-06-2011, 08:05 AM
I think as a haunted house flick it works very well. As for it being forgettable... Well it's not Bava at his peak, but it still has some very effective touches. Also, I think Nicolodi turned in a very good performance.

I agree it's not forgettable - and I don't get the Fulci comparison at all... especially since I like Fulci and fail to see how it being like one of his films could be a negative. As for Nicolodi - this just has to be her best genre performance. She's terrific in it.

Robert Wilkins
12-06-2011, 12:50 PM
I agree it's not forgettable - and I don't get the Fulci comparison at all... especially since I like Fulci and fail to see how it being like one of his films could be a negative. As for Nicolodi - this just has to be her best genre performance. She's terrific in it.

I think the only comparable Fulci flick would be House By The Cemetery, but even that comparison is a little tenuous. And I agree, being compared to Fulci is certainly not an insult.

As for Nicolodi, I'm glad see didn't go too over-the-top with the hysterics.

Jonathan Douglas
12-07-2011, 01:30 PM
SHOCK I haven't seen in a good while, since the AB disc came out .Think I should probably give it another chance, especially since I wasn't totally crazy about it first time but liked certain parts that reminded me of early Polanski. Plus after seeing John Steiner again recently in TENEBRA, feel like catching more of his work too.

Troy Howarth
12-07-2011, 07:45 PM
I think the only comparable Fulci flick would be House By The Cemetery, but even that comparison is a little tenuous. And I agree, being compared to Fulci is certainly not an insult.

As for Nicolodi, I'm glad see didn't go too over-the-top with the hysterics.

I really need to see her non horror work, like the film she did with Petri, but she is terrific in both films she did with Bava. She really loved him like a father, and he brought out the best in her. Argento sometimes allowed her to overact rather badly.

Jon Houghton
12-08-2011, 07:17 PM
FWIW, Tim Lucas is offering his book at a $100 discount through December 10th. I still can't afford it, but that is a pretty damned good deal

That sale is the only way I could ever afford the book and it is still a bit much for me, but well worth it so I might as well.

Tim Young
01-23-2012, 08:58 AM
I agree it's not forgettable - and I don't get the Fulci comparison at all... especially since I like Fulci and fail to see how it being like one of his films could be a negative. As for Nicolodi - this just has to be her best genre performance. She's terrific in it.

Actually I wasn't trying to put down Fulci with the comparison, I certainly enjoy his films as well, but they are very different in style to Bava's better known works and the small scale, grainy picture quality of this film and the did storyline as a whole remind me more of Fulci's oeuvre than Bava's.

Craig Hatch
01-24-2012, 11:28 AM
It reminded me of Fulci a bit too. More so his Seven Notes in Black era work than the later gore films.

Alex K.
06-03-2012, 12:01 AM
http://www.indiewire.com/embed/player.jsp?videoId=f1ae8d80-99e3-11e1-bcc4-123138165f92&width=480

Robert Wilkins
06-03-2012, 07:33 PM
Troy should do the audio commentary.

Troy Howarth
06-03-2012, 08:39 PM
I'd like to see more than just one person doing commentaries for his work, regardless; I know there are a lot of genre enthusiasts out there who appreciate his work, and it'd be nice to hear some different perspectives!

Troy Howarth
06-03-2012, 08:54 PM
I only just became aware of this, but Bava's first western, The Road to Fort Alamo, snuck out onto DVD via the Wild East label... it's on a double bill with another western starring Lex Barker. I don't know that this release got ANY attention, and I surely didn't hear anything of it until I stumbled across it, but I wonder how it compares to the German DVD edition? I'd snag a copy, but A) it's out of stock on Amazon and B) I don't know that it includes the Italian dub... I can't take the English track.

Robert Wilkins
06-03-2012, 10:39 PM
Troy,

Diabolik has a copy of the double feature disc still ins tock.

Robert Wilkins
06-03-2012, 10:41 PM
I'd like to see more than just one person doing commentaries for his work, regardless; I know there are a lot of genre enthusiasts out there who appreciate his work, and it'd be nice to hear some different perspectives!

You and Scorsese then.

Troy Howarth
06-04-2012, 12:10 AM
Until I know if A) the picture quiality is comparable to the German disc and B) it includes the Italian track and English subs, I'll be holding off.

Scorsese talking Bava would be wonderful - far more entertaining, too, than any armchair theorist such as myself!

Daniel M
06-12-2012, 11:16 PM
I'd love to see self-described Bava fans Scorsese and Friedkin record a KIDNAPPED commentary over pizza and some brew.

dave hartley
06-28-2012, 07:10 PM
Artist and designer John Coulthart maintains an interesting blog. In a post today (http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2012/06/28/design-as-virus-14-curse-of-the-dead/) he shows how a black and white publicity still from Bava's Operazione Paura, which was reproduced in Dennis Gifford's Pictorial History of Horror Movies, was blatantly 'swiped' for the cover of a UK William Hope Hodgson paperback and a couple of indie single covers, and also possibly inspired Dave McKean's cover for Arkham Asylum. (I have that edition of Carnacki but I never spotted the swipe).

Al Edwards
07-01-2012, 06:06 AM
Road to Fort Alamo-ok western by Bava that while has some decent moments here and there, is not as good as his best work. I wish he had done a western-giallo hybrid. Or an Italian western in the style and tone of Rabid Dogs.

Al Edwards
07-01-2012, 07:03 AM
Report Card update

Black Sunday:B+
Hercules in the Haunted World:B
Erik the Conquerer:B+
The Girl who Knew Too Much:B
Black Sabbath:A+
The Whip and the Body:A+
Blood and Black Lace:A+
The Road to Fort Alamo:B-
Planet of the Vampires:A-
Nebraska Jim:B
Knives of the Avengers:A-
Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs/Spie vengono dal semifreddo:Never Seen/B-
Kill, Baby...Kill:A
Danger: Diabolik:B+
Hatchet for the Honeymoon:B
Four Times That Night:B+
Five Dolls for an August Moon:B
Roy Colt and Winchester Jack:C+
Twitch of the Death Nerve:A+
Baron Blood:B
Lisa and the Devil:A+/House of Exorcism:F
Rabid Dogs:A+/Kidnapped:F
Shock:B+
Venus of Ille:A-

Troy Howarth
07-01-2012, 01:15 PM
Road to Fort Alamo is the Bava western that LOOKS most like a Bava horror film, but I find the corny score and grade B scenario difficult to get past. I much prefer Nebraska Jim, even though he took over uncredited from Antonio Roman.

LenL
07-02-2012, 02:53 AM
Anybody know any details about the upcoming Black Sunday Blu Ray? Would definitely like to see an Italian dub.

Troy Howarth
07-03-2012, 06:57 PM
I'm also hopeful that the Italian track will be included; to me, both English language dubs are perfectly dreadful.

Garrett Sorensen
07-14-2012, 09:21 PM
Black Sunday:B
Hercules in the Haunted World:A-
Erik the Conquerer:B-
The Girl who Knew Too Much:B+
Black Sabbath:A
The Whip and the Body:A-
Blood and Black Lace:A-
The Road to Fort Alamo:C+
Planet of the Vampires:A
Savage Gringo:C+
Knives of the Avengers:A-
Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs: US: D Euro: C
Kill, Baby...Kill:A
Danger: Diabolik:B
Hatchet for the Honeymoon:A-
Four Times That Night:A-
Five Dolls for an August Moon:B-
Roy Colt and Winchester Jack:C+
Twitch of the Death Nerve:A
Baron Blood:B-
Lisa and the Devil:A /House of Exorcism:B-
Rabid Dogs:A+/Kidnapped:B+
Shock:B
Venus of Ille: A-

I wish he had done an Alice in Wonderlandish horror tale (ala Lemora) instead of always having stuffy adults walking through surreal paintings come to life. Oh well.

I also wish I could go back in time, bonk the producer over the head and tell Bava to make the indians in Road to Fort Alamo the undead attacking because of some sacred violation. That film was so close to being Bava's horror/western without the key ingredient.

Derrick King
08-29-2012, 08:28 PM
Since only Bava completest will be interested in this, I figure I'd post it here: according to a post at DVDTalk (http://forum.dvdtalk.com/11364078-post1756.html), TGG Direct (via their deal with MGM) have released DR GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRLS BOMBS on DVD in a double feature with DR GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE.

This doesn't seem to be available on Amazon (the poster found it in the $5 bin at Walmart), but here is the cover art from dvdplanet (http://www.dvdplanet.com/details.cfm/info/358675X/dr-goldfoot-and-the-bikini-machine-dr-goldfoot-and-the-girl-bombs)
http://www.dvdplanet.com/product-images/video/144/other/358675X.jpg

Troy Howarth
08-29-2012, 09:17 PM
Well it's good that it's been preserved, I suppose...

Jeremy Slate
08-30-2012, 06:45 PM
FWIW, Tim Lucas is offering his book at a $100 discount through December 10th. I still can't afford it, but that is a pretty damned good deal

Link or code?

LenL
01-31-2013, 11:46 PM
My prayers have been answered! Screw Kino Lorber! I'm getting the Arrow release of Black Sunday.

Al Edwards
02-05-2013, 01:36 AM
Nebraska Jim-Not a great film, but I do like the dark humorous touch of the guitar player getting killed in the pre credits scene.

Al Edwards
09-04-2013, 02:11 PM
Spie vengono dal semifreddo-Lesser Bava film with some good humorous, some decent humorous and some annoying humorous scenes.

Al Edwards
12-12-2013, 03:50 PM
Venus of Ille-Atmospheric made for television supernatural drama. Daria Nicolodi gives another good performance in a Bava film. With some great dream like qualities.