And so to the third member of our Italian horror trio, Riccardo Freda. He is best known today for being the man who encouraged Bava into directing but his own contributions to the world of Itlaian cinema should not be forgotten.
I Vampiri was the first serious Italian horror film, amazingly the country that provided so many memorable horror films in the 60s, 70s and 80s had no heritage of horror at all and when Freda suggested making a horror story the producers baulked at the idea. So he made a bet that he could complete the film in two weeks, the producers agreed but the production took a lot longer than he expected and with only half of the film shot, he walked off the set leaving Mario Bava with two days to complete the project. Presumably burning the midnight oil, Bava concocted a new storyline that would utilise the existing footage with a minimum of new shooting and duly delivered the film on time. Amazingly the end result is not the mess it should have been and although not the most original, it is a very effective horror story and well worth watching, available on a good looking print from Image in the US.
Lo Spettro is an often overlooked period horror film. Although Freda did not use the gorgeous gothic horror stylings for which Bava would become famous, he makes this film incredibly effective despite a script that by all rights should drag horrriby, with lengthy dialogue and melodrama sequences. Unfortunately the Retromedia DVD has a watchable but poor quality print and the film could certainly gain from an upgrade.