If you don’t know Mario Bava, you don’t know scary. The Italian maestro of horror and godfather of both giallo and slasher film, Bava’s work garnered him a cult following, influencing greats like Martin Scorsese, Dario Argento, John Carpenter and Quentin Tarantino. Fandor is obsessed! This Halloween we plan to binge watch his seven films in our collection, and we dare you to do the same. From his iconic black and white debut feature Black Sunday to his colorful, hyper-stylized visuals and violent plotlines in Blood and Black Lace and Black Sabbath, we are thirsty for Bava!
Top 5 from the Playlist:
The film opens with the inquisition, branding, and execution of Asa Vajda (Barbara Steele), a vampire witch. The premise of Mario Bava’s first feature, Black Sunday, is the curse which Asa Vajda places on her torturers, realized two centuries later, including her brother and all of his descendants. Drawing her victims in by telling them to stare into her eyes, the witch is able to return to life. This gothic horror film shot in stunning black and white emphasizes mood and atmosphere and has become a cult classic.
Referenced as one of the earliest giallo films, Blood and Black Lace (or also titled Six Women For The Murder), is a slasher film in which a masked killer stalks and murders the female models working in a fashion house. The film features a fantastic score and murders choreographed by color scheme, the most bone-chilling occurring in an all-white bathroom as a woman dressed in white has been drowned in a bathtub and red blood fills the screen. The colorful, stylized and beautifully composed cinematography of this film would become a major influence on notable directors such as Dario Argento and John Carpenter, among others.
A 1970s gorgeous psychotronic movie featuring a mod score by Piero Umiliani and Bava’s signature colorful aesthetic; Five Dolls for an August Moon begins with a fantastic intro sequence where we are introduced to a group of island vacationers in a series of close-ups. These characters will be killed one by one in an uncredited adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” One of the guests, a scientist, has invented a new chemical process that the other guests are eager to invest in… until they become more concerned with who the murderer is. Did I mention they are on an island with no phones?
Mario Bava’s favorite of his own horror films, Black Sabbath is an anthology film composed of three stories. The first is The Telephone, where a woman is tormented by an unknown caller; the second is The Wurdalak, where a man takes shelter at a family’s home when the patriarch played by Boris Karloff, aka the original Frankenstein, returns having been converted into a wurdalak (vampire); the third and final story is The Drop of Water, in which a callous nurse in Victorian England is sent to the recently deceased home of a medium. All three stories employ Bava’s keen sense of suspense and eye for composition that will leave you shuddering. Fandor is elated to be able to provide the original European cut of the film: I TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA.
Opening on a saturated blue window as rain drips down the glass, an old woman in a wheelchair alone in her mansion will be hung in the next few moments. Family members, real estate agents, and the like come out of the woodwork claiming a right to their inheritance and the property; but this iconic slasher film which is thought to define the genre, in succession kills them all. With makeup effects by Academy Award winner Carlo Rambaldi, a Halloween playlist would not be complete without A Bay of Blood.
Craving more Bava? Check out the full Weekend Playlist: Mario Bava