Four Times that Night (1972)

September 19th, 2011

Bava’s forgotten entry to the sex comedy genre is a Rashamon inspired four-parter telling multiple stories of a couple’s first date. Unfortunately the good idea is rather poorly executed and the film remains a curio rather than particularly recommended.

Read our Four Times that Night review.

Bava serves up a plate of Spaghetti…

September 14th, 2011

Lets get right back where we left off. The Bavas and Freda might be best loved for their horror work, but all have worked in other genres and I am going to take a look at a number of other projects on which they worked.

First up is a double bill of Spaghetti Westerns. The Road to Fort Alamo (1964) is a very early genre entry, made around the same time that Sergio Leone was cooking up the first of his iconic Dollars films. Unlike his contemporary, Bava did not try to re-invent the genre but was instead happy to make a solid if rather uninspired mime of the American films. The later Ringo del Nebraska (1966) shows a similar lack of Italian influence and is almost unrecognisable as a Bava film but does make for a solid Western story.

Long break…. sorry!

September 14th, 2011

Okay now that was a long power nap. My netbook with the entire raw site on decided to die and it has taken a long time to get everything sorted out, but fortunately the time has come to resuscitate once again so watch out for all new reviews soon….

Introducing Riccardo Freda

April 18th, 2011

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.

Demoni

April 14th, 2011

More Bava, this time the best known horror films from Mario’s son Lamberto Bava. The Demons films were produced by Dario Argento and clearly show more influence from the new master of the giallo than from Bava’s father. Unfortunately gorgeous visual effects do not make a good film on their own and both films lumber under rather poorly written scripts.

Part two of the Bava, Bava, Freda season – Demons and Demons 2

I tre volti della paura – Black Sabbath (1963)

April 11th, 2011


Let’s kick off straight away with a look at one of Bava’s best known horror films – Black Sabbath. An anthology film that featured an excellent gothic horror chapter with the ever reliable Boris Karloff, as well as a fascinating proto-giallo story and an superb final chapter. The Italian version is available on a very good looking ABUS disc, sadly the American edited print does not seem to be available at present.

I have also been working hard on updating my existing Bava reviews, rewatching and re-reviewing the films. Check out all new reviews of Bava’s debut film Black Sunday and his fascinating Whip and the Body. The new Mario Bava bio is also on the way for later in the season.

Bava, Bava & Freda

April 11th, 2011

It is finally time for the first major season of reviews for 2011. As the title suggests, it is an all new look at the films of Mario Bava, alongside a new study on the films of his son Lamberto Bava and his mentor Riccardo Freda.

A whole load of new reviews, plus new biographies of all three are coming over the next month.

Click on the Bava, Bava & Freda season tag below to see all the reviews so far uploaded in this series.

Blog update

April 11th, 2011

Thought I would finally get around to updating this rather ageing blog. An all new theme and support for tags should make it a lot easier to find things.

Real actual review updates coming soon…

Space Mining

March 28th, 2011

I’ve never really reviewed much sci-fi here before, but already this year we have Robot Jox and Hardware and now this double bill of space mining movies…

First up is Moon 44 from director Roland Emmerich. Although best known today for films like The Day After Tomorrow, this forgotten early sci-fi film boasts some surprisingly beautiful visual effects that make it feel like a 2000AD version of Bladerunner. If you like smart sci-fi, then this one is well worth tracking down, it is only a pity that the script didn’t get a good going over to fill in the holes in the setting that keep the film from being a must-see.

Second is Phoenixone of those films you stumble across at 3am and wonder just why anyone bothered to make it. A couple of good ideas are buried under the horribly cliché script and the budget is clearly not half enough to provide some decent looking sets.

It says it all really that while Emmerich went on to direct hugely budgeted sci-fi films in Hollywood, Phoenix‘s director Troy Cook went on to be ‘photographer: second unit’ on Amityville: Dollhouse (1996). Such is film…

http://www.mondo-esoterica.net/title_img/Phoenix/title.jpeg

River of Darkness (2011)

March 14th, 2011

Okay not quite my usual thing, but I saw this in a supermarket on holiday and just had to buy it. Only just released (in fact the US release is not until the end of the month) this is one of a swathe of films coming out at present featuring Professional Wrestlers, although this one features TNA star Kurt Angle – unfortunately the script is even less ambitious than Angle’s acting and what might have been a fun tribute to 1980s horrors becomes just another generic and instantly forgettable slasher film.

Avoid it while you can – River of Darkness