The Mario Bava Collection: Volume Two
If you are a fan of horror films then you are familiar with names such as Clive Barker, George Romero and Wes Craven. They have been coming up with some the scariest flicks around for many years now. Did you ever wonder what horror movies they like or who influenced their work? A brief interview with any of these modern masters of horror will without a doubt have at least one name in common, Mario Bava. A lot of American horror flick fans, especially some of the younger ones, may not be familiar with this name but rest assured, he is an old school, original creep master. Italian horror flicks have always leaded the way in this genre. While many American horror directors go for world’s records in the use of stage blood Italian directors such as Mario Bava and Dario Argento preferred to use a more psychological means to scaring the stuffing out of you. Starz/Anchor Bay has released the second volume of their Mario Bava Collection. This is on heels of their releasing two classic Bava films; ‘Black Sunday’ and ‘Black Sabbath’. This second volume of the collection contains eight of his perhaps lesser know but still significant movies. Many of the films in this second volume of the collection show the times that Bava departed from his gothic horror roots. There are some classic gothic horror here but also included are comedies, westerns and sixties sex romp. As you watch you can see the influence this man had on the current horror genre. Many of the great scenes in current such flicks are a homage to the work of Bava. This collection also demonstrates just how versatile Bava was a director. Some of the films in this set are humorous, others more dramatic but all are a must have for a serious collector.
Four Time That Night (Quante volte... quella notte) 1972
This film shows the influence that Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon had on Bava. It presents the same basic story from four different viewpoints each with their own take on the truth of what happened. Tina (Daniela Giordano) comes back home from a data with known womanizer, Gianni (Brett Halsey). As she gets out of his car her hair is disheveled and her clothing a mess. He follows a bit grinning lecherously at her. His point of view is she was anxious to be with him. Tina just about mauls Gianni and in a nymphomaniac frenzy just about wears him out. She wanted to have sex again and again. Tina’s point of view is somewhat different. To her it was tantamount to date rape. This film is typical of the sixties sex romp comedy. While admittedly not completely representative of Bava’s work it does show that he was capable of branching out and looking for new venues for his talent. Just remember that the sixties was the mod era. The colors are too bright, the music loud and the camera angels come from every direction. There is also another dead giveaway of the sixties, silly cartoons in the opening credits.
5 Dolls For An August Moon (5 bambole per la luna d'agosto) 1970
Here Bava uses one of the most tried and true devices in horror. Isolate a small group in a remote location and pick them off one by one. Everyone becomes both a suspect and a potential victim. This is also a transitional film for Bava. It is a departure from his classic style and gives in more to the sex and gore portion of the genre. He again gives in to the prevalent mod attitude of the day with the ‘futuristic’ settings, fancy devices and spinning beds. This is the roots of many more recent horror flicks and does have some historical value that makes up for the over use of style over substance.
Roy Colt And Winchester Jack 1970
In order to get his name more known in the States Bava did occasionally employ a couple of American actors to lead his casts. In this film the main roles are portrayed by Brett Halsey, who did a lot of Italian flicks and American television, and Charles Southwood, who was American in name but worked mostly in Italy. This is more lighthearted than the usual Bava film. He shows that he is not above some old fashion slap stick and tongue in cheek satire. The general consensus is this is truly one of his less deserving films.
Kidnapped (Italian) / Rabid Dogs (U.S.) (Cani arrabbiati) 1974
In a way this is a little double feature. The Italian version is ‘Kidnapped’ while in the States the film went by the name ‘Rabid Dogs’. Both are included here on a one sided disc. Whether you choose the Italian or American cut both are fully restored and both are subtitled in Rnglish Three criminals, Trentadue (George Eastman), Dottore (Maurice Poli) and Riccardo (Riccardo Cucciolla) rob a pharmaceutical company. In the process their forth compatriot is shot and left behind. They take a hostage, Maria (Lea Lander) and hijack a car owned by Riccardo (Riccardo Cucciolla). Much of the film is shot in a rapidly moving car giving a kinetic headlong into danger feel. This film is well edited and paced to perfection.
Baron Blood (Orrori del castello di Norimberga, Gli) 1972
Now we are getting into the Mario Bava true horror fans know and love. It also features an actor with a name and reputation here in America. Count Whatsizname (Joseph Cotten) is known for his lust for inflicting pain on others. This is a man for whom torture is not going obtain information its just fun in itself. He makes Ed Gein look like a amateur. When his idiot descendant brings the Count back from the dead its long overdue to let the good times role. Okay its hokey and you may find yourself laughing in places not intended but it is a perfect midnight flick.
Bay of Blood (Reazione a catena) 1971
In this flick there is everything you need for a late night horror fest. An elder woman is killed for her property. The land includes some bay front property just perfect for a group of teens to party. There is drinking, smoking and of course young women with the overwhelming urge to either take a shower or go skinning dipping. This film is a bit over done but you can see the influence that it had on the Friday the 13th franchise.
Lisa and the Devil / House of Exorcism (La Casa dell'esorcismo) 1973
This is another two for one deal. Both the Italian cut, ‘Lisa and the Devil and the American cut, ‘House of Exorcism, are included. The set does count them as different films. A couple of faces will be familiar to the audiences in the States. The film features Telly Savalas and Elke Sommer. Sommers plays Lisa Reiner who by chance meets up with Savalas as Leandro, a man with a striking resemblance to the portrayal of in a local fresco. There is a dream like quality to the look of this film and it is typical of Bava’s lesser but still influential works.
While these are admittedly among the lesser works of this genius they are still worth having. They represent his tries at branching out in different directions and experimenting with his craft. While best for the die hard Bava fan these would work as great popcorn flicks for anyone.