Italian born director Mario Bava represents one of those film makers that it took years to finally see the majority of his movies growing up here in Canada. I’m referring to the days of reading magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland and maybe dog eared copies of Castle of Frankenstein I’d find at a local comic bookshop in my hometown. I’d see images of Barbara Steele in Black Sunday or maybe one of Christopher Lee in What. What the hell is What you ask? Just one of the many titles associated with The Whip and the Body.
Yes, many of Bava’s movies were subject to title changes so despite his only directing a handful of titles, if we list all the alternative names they’ve been given I suspect we’d be tripling his overall output at a minimum.
Aside from a couple titles that got picked up for TV airings like Planet of the Vampires it took me years to finally see films like Black Sunday and Kill, Baby, Kill. Thanks to a local video store that had plenty of imported titles they became a reality and no longer just eerie images in magazines and hardcover books covering the history of horror.
Makes one appreciate them all the more than today’s upcoming fans who can locate them all with ease. They may like them just as much as I do but they never experienced the chase to finally see an uncut copy of something like Blood and Black Lace.
Black Sunday (1960) …. Once locating a copy of this at that video store I spoke of I must have rented this a half dozen times. I was that impressed.
Peplum adventures were the rage so it’s Reg Park vs. Christopher Lee in Hercules In the Haunted World.
Next up was John Saxon in Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much aka The Evil Eye.
A trilogy of tales offered Boris Karloff one of his best roles of the 1960’s in this bonafide chiller.
Another film that impressed the hell out of me was this Lee/Bava effort with the beautiful Daliah Lavi signing on.
Cameron Mitchell spoke highly of Bava and worked on three films with the Italian Maestro.
The coolest space suits in the history of movies? Might be and they can be found in 1965’s Planet of the Vampires.
Relegated to a double bill is Cameron Mitchell in Knives of the Avenger.
And just when you think you’ve picked a favorite Bava title along comes Kill, Baby, Kill to keep you thinking. Classic.
Another cult fave is this feature starring John Phillip Law.
Dr. Goldfoot, spaghetti westerns and slasher flicks were to follow including the 1970 thriller Hatchet For a Honeymoon.
Bond gal Claudine Auger appeared in 1971’s Bay of Blood. The film that is said to have inspired the Friday the 13th series.
I’ve always been a fan of 1972’s Baron Blood with Joseph Cotten and Elke Sommer signing on for the thrills.
Lisa and the Devil or the recut House of Exorcism sees Elke back again with Telly this time around.
There were other titles over the course of Bava’s career and while I do fondly recall the days when I had to hunt for the majority of his directorial efforts they are now mostly available on blu ray thanks to Arrow Video and Kino Lorber. I did mention that Cameron Mitchell made three films with Bava which gives me a chance to dig a one sheet out of the vault here at Mike’s Take. A 1961 one sheet for Erik the Conqueror.
I must admit that the one thing I do wish I had on the shelf here aside from an original one sheet of Black Sunday is historian Tim Lucas’ massive book on the director titled All the Colors of the Dark. It was a limited run and now sells for way more than I’m willing to pay. Tim if you’re stopping by I’d be happy to take any copy you might have lying around.
Love me some Mario Bava, he’s in my top 10 filmmakers list. I have a large portion of his filmography in my collection mainly from Arrow Video, and many through their Mario Bava boxset. I also have Mask of the Demon, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, and The Three Faces of Fear on separate releases, the first pressings. The Girl Who Knew Too much and the segment The Telephone from The Three Faces of Fear (The Italian language versions of both) are my top two favorite works of Bava, I just love his style and atmosphere. I still need to get the German Blu Rays of Hercules in the Center of the Earth and Hatchet for a Honeymoon.
Even though one can argue Black Sunday is his definitive film, once he moved to colors the films are so luxurious in tone and the colors breathe life into the sets. Just a magnificent visionary.
Nice gallery there, Mike. Bava’s work is, of course, best seen unedited, but I thought the new US credits for Blood and Black lace were kind of interesting. Bay of Blood was a definite influence on the first two Friday the 13th flicks in terms of kills, and yep, Planet of the Vampires (to me) has a few similarities to ALIEN (although I see a lot of It! The Terror from Beyond Space in that 1979 classic as well).
I love to steer people towards It! when talking Alien. It’s an eye opener for those that take me up on it. And of course I love to suggest Bava films to those who listen. Many of his 60’s outputs are a feast for the eyes.
I have to admit, I’ve only seen ONE Mario Bava film, and it was ‘Planet of the Vampires’, and it was only last year that I saw it! No real reason for me not to see his films, they just seem to skim under my radar. But it seems if I should watch just one, it should be…’Black Sunday’ or ‘Kill, Baby, Kill’?
And my favorite poster of the bunch has gotta be the one for ‘Planet of the Vampires’…would like to find one to frame and hang on the living room wall. And that one for ‘Danger: Diabolik’ isn’t too bad, either. Do you have a personal favorite from the ones shown above?
I would think Black Sunday is probably considered to be his biggest horror title. Funny that it’s in black and white because his color flicks are so amazing from the 60’s. I like those foreign Black Sunday posters and would love to add one to the vault.
I’d also add Blood and Black Lace to Todd’s watch list. It’s super-saturated with color and you get Cameron Mitchell hamming it up with all those pretty models at that kooky agency.