An entertaining introduction to the work and life of visionary Italian filmmaker Mario Bava, whose influence can be seen in the work of filmmakers ranging from Federico Fellini to Tim Burton. Born July 31, 1914, in San Remo, Bava was the son of cinematographer Eugenio Bava, who who worked steadily through the Italian silent era in many capacities, including set designer, special effects artist and cinematographer. The younger Bava inherited his father's love of movies and became a cameraman, advancing to cinematographer and scoring his first directing assignment when Riccardo Freda walked off CALTIKI, THE IMMORTAL MONSTER (1959). Bava is widely credited with having helped revive the horror genre in Italy, and at their best his films have a lucid, dreamlike quality that stuck with movie fans weaned on dumb drive-in monster movies long after they'd forgotten the plots. Bava's BLACK SUNDAY (1960) made a horror icon of kittenish English starlet Barbara Steele (who is, unfortunately, not interviewed here), and his BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964) is the template for the giallo, a type of Italian thriller popular in the 1960s and '70s and distinguished by baroque visuals and cruelly inventive murder set pieces. Like his father, Bava loved creating movie magic, and did many of his won special effects work, creating elaborate illusions with smoke and mirrors. Interviews with family members and collaborators paint a picture of a sweet-natured prankster whose love affair with movies never cooled, even when he was making the best of low-rent projects, while critics and fans who include filmamkers Burton, Joe Dante and John Carpenter detail the influence Bava's films continue to exert over the horror genre. Generous clips from BLACK SUNDAY (1960), THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1962), BLACK SABBATH (1963), PLEANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965), 1968's ultra-mod DANGER: DIABOLIK (whose fingerprints are all over the AUSTIN POWERS films), BAY OF BLOOD (1971), and other films provide a fine introduction to Bava's work. Bava died in 1980, aged 65, leaving behind a body of work that continues to find new admirers.
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- Released: 2000
- Review: An entertaining introduction to the work and life of visionary Italian filmmaker Mario Bava, whose influence can be seen in the work of filmmakers ranging from Federico Fellini to Tim Burton. Born July 31, 1914, in San Remo, Bava was the son of cinematogra… (more)