A Century of Scares: Happy Birthday Bava!

MBAVA

This week marks the 100th birthday of Mario Bava who was born on July 30th (according to leading Bava researcher Tim Lucas and author of the essential Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark) or 31st (if you want to believe IMDB.com and Wikipedia). The brilliant Italian director, cinematographer, special effects artist and screenwriter died in 1980 but today he’s fondly remembered by horror film enthusiasts as the Maestro of the Macabre. Bava has long been one of my favorite filmmakers so I couldn’t let this important anniversary pass without acknowledging his artistry.

Before Bava become interested in directing he studied painting and his passion for color and composition is plainly apparent in his filmmaking. The silver screen became Bava’s canvas where he was able to expertly blend shadows, music and light to create a tapestry of terror and a phantasmagoria of fear. With this in mind I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a gallery of images swiped from some of his best films. These celluloid frames showcase Bava’s artistry as well as his craftsmanship and observant readers will undoubtedly spot recurring color palletes and visual motifs, which became part of the director’s toolbox during his 40+ years behind the camera. If you appreciate Mario Bava’s talent I hope you’ll enjoy this little tribute and if you’re unfamiliar with his work I hope these images will encourage you to further explore the incredible filmography of Italy’s Maestro of the Macabre.

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I VAMPIRI (1956)

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BLACK SUNDAY (1960)

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HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (1961)

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ERIK THE CONQUEROR (1961)

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THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1963)

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BLACK SABBATH (1963)

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THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963)

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BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964)

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PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965)

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KILL, BABY, KILL (1966)

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DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS (1966)

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DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968)

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FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON (1970)

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HATCHET FOR A HONEYMOON
(1970)

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TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (1971)

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BARON BLOOD (1972)

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FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT (1972)

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LISA AND THE DEVIL (1972)

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RABID DOGS (1974)

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SHOCK (1977)

Further reading:
- FANDOR – Keyframe Daily | Mario Bava @ 100
- Matrimony, Madness and Murder: HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1970)

7 Responses A Century of Scares: Happy Birthday Bava!
Posted By swac44 : July 31, 2014 8:40 pm

Great visual essay! I discovered Bava through an old VHS copy of Black Sabbath (“Hey, that movie has the same name as the band…”) and that led me to a low-grade copy of Blood and Black Lace, and by the time I got to see Black Sunday on laserdisc I was hooked (around the same time I enviously read about his other films in Tim Lucas’s Video Watchdog. Learning about how Bava was able to achieve so much visually for so little money (he prided himself on coming in under budget nearly every time) makes me wish more horror filmmakers would learn from his example in terms of finding innovative and imaginative ways to provide style and atmosphere.

Posted By Gamera2000 : August 1, 2014 4:09 am

A wonderful visual gallery and you are so right about Tim Lucas’s book. I grew up watching Bava movies on local television before I even knew who he was. And all I can say, is that Black Sabbath (particularly ‘The Ring’ episode) still remains one of the few times a movie actually terrified me.

Posted By steve langton : August 1, 2014 6:32 am

Wonderful choices for your grabs. It never fails to amaze me just how much Bava achieved, with imagination and ingenuity, rather than big budgets. Good to see some of his films available in HD now, with more to come. Hopefully, Hercules In The Haunted World will make its way onto Blu before too much longer.

Posted By Richard Brandt : August 1, 2014 10:52 pm

Bava was the man, all right. I’m sure his experience devising the special effects for modest Italian features was a great aid to his doing wonders on a budget.

Posted By earl6 : August 2, 2014 2:01 pm

Thanks for posting this great tribute. I havn’t seen many Bava films but Twitch Of The Death Nerve is a favorite of mine.

Posted By ziggy6708 : August 4, 2014 4:34 am

These really sound (& look) great. Let’s start a campaign to get them aired on ‘Underground’!!
The segment is in real need of new films & these Bava films are just the ticket!
Can’t wait.
;)

Posted By CJ aka Darkamor : August 23, 2014 6:03 pm

Thank you for a wonderful tribute to Mario Bava. I hope some day we get a true Boxset (on BluRay); however it would have to be divided into different genres (because Bava was able to direct just about anything from comedy to horror).

Personal favorites include:

BLACK SABBATH (1963)
DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968)
BLACK SUNDAY (1960)
PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965)

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