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The Mario Bava Collection: Volume One (Black Sunday / Black Sabbath / The Girl Who Knew Too Much / Kill Baby Kill / Knives of the Avenger)

4.1 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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(Apr 03, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

More than a quarter of a century after his death, director Mario Bava remains one of international cinema’s most controversial icons. Today his influence — marked by stunning visuals, daring sexuality and shocking violence — can still be seen in the works of Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Tim Burton, Dario Argento and countless others in a legacy that extends far beyond the horror genre. This collection brings together 5 landmark movies from the first half of Bava’s career — encompassing the original giallo, a bold Viking epic, and his three gothic horror masterpieces — featuring new transfers, original European versions, and exclusive featurettes to create the definitive celebration of one of the most important filmmakers of all time.

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Five of Mario Bava's best films are included in this box set, minus his forays into eroticism, like Blood and Black Lace. Still, the lines between sexual pathos and violence blur in these selections that influenced not only other famed directors of Giallo, such as Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, but also spawned the American golden age in horror, led by directors such as John Carpenter. Three black and white films here exemplify Bava's trademark use of chiaroscuro mixed with suspense-building cinematography first developed in early horror classics like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. In the Hitchcock-inspired Evil Eye (1963), tourist Nora Davis (Leticia Roman) witnesses a murder but can't convince police of the crime. Kill Baby Kill! (1966) is the prototype for all little girl-ghost films. Dr. Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) is recruited to solve the mystery of Villa Graps, where Baroness Graps (Giana Vivaldi) reanimates her dead daughter, Melissa, by killing innocent villagers. In Black Sunday (1960), the witch Princess Asa Vajda comes back from the dead to inhabit her look-alike, Katia, both played by Barbara Steele, the original femme fatale to which all brunette vamps, like Soledad Miranda (Vampyros Lesbos) and Elvira, are indebted.

In Technicolor, Bava's fantastically rainbow-lit films underpin the director's fascination with connections between our world and those imagined. Black Sabbath (1963) is a trilogy hosted by Boris Karloff, who also stars as a Russian vampire in its segment, "The Wurdalak." "The Telephone," and "The Drop of Water," in which a nurse, Helen Correy (Jacqueline Pierreux), steals a ring then fears that her dead medium patient seeks revenge, are acute studies of guilt and paranoia. The Viking saga, Knives of the Avenger (1966), like Bava's Hercules in the Haunted World, spawned several sword and sorcery films, while protagonist Rurik's (Cameron Mitchell's) knife-throwing is indeed entertaining. Screened back to back, these films provide evidence of Bava's influence in the horror genre. Moreover, they reveal Bava's deep understanding of horror's many facets, whether sexually, psychologically, or physically based. —Trinie Dalton


Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici
  • Directors: Mario Bava
  • Writers: Alberto Bevilacqua, Alberto Liberati, Aleksei Tolstoy, Eliana De Sabata, Ennio De Concini
  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Italian
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: April 3, 2007
  • Run Time: 430 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000MV8ABI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,422 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Mario Bava Collection: Volume One (Black Sunday / Black Sabbath / The Girl Who Knew Too Much / Kill Baby Kill / Knives of the Avenger)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 5, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Mario Bava was one of the most underrated filmmakers of the 20th century -- not to mention the most versatile, turning out giallo thrillers, gothic horror, Viking action, Hercules, a Western, and even a Swinging Sixties crime caper. Five of these brilliant movies are brought together in the "Mario Bava Collection Volume 1," including one of his most famous horror movies ever.

The poorly-named "Kill Baby Kill" opens when a young woman leaps onto an iron fence. Dr. Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) is called in to do an autopsy, with the help of beautiful Monica (Erica Blanc). He finds a coin in the girl's heart, and none of the townspeople will tell him -- because if they do, they will suffer a similar fate.

He's even more annoyed when local sorceress Ruth (Fabienne Dali) begins using her powers to protect a young girl from a childlike specter -- little dead aristocrat Melissa Graps. But as the bodies pile up, and Monica is plagued by bizarre nightmares, Eswai must accept Ruth's help to save Monica from the ghost, and an evil baroness.

"Black Sunday (The Mask of Satan)" is a bizarre tale of vampirism -- evil princess Asa (Barbare Steele) and her servant were executed centuries ago, for serving the devil and all-around nastiness. As usual, she places an evil curse on the Vadja family, and vows to return one day to get revenge on them, just before being impaled by the "devil's mask," a spiked mask that kills the wearer.

But in the modern day, two doctors on their way to a convention accidentally reopen her grave, and awaken her with a drop of blood. Turns out that Asa isn't QUITE dead -- and now gaining new power, as she discovers that her distant descendent Katia Vadja is a dead ringer for her.
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Well...........in case you didn't hear, don't have frequent Net access, or whatever. This new Bava set, cool as it is, is now no longer going to have the AIP/US cut of BLACK SABBATH. All the Net reviews of pre-release copies I have seen as of this date (4/2/07) confirm the prints on both the BLACK SABBATH & BLACK SUNDAY are cleaner prints, but essentially the same as the Image releases. I don't want to knock Anchor's restoration, but it's the same ol' same ol'....what was gonna make this set pop was the release of both versions of the films. I know there is an audio distinction to BLACK SUNDAY, but it escapes me at this second. So buyers who were looking for the OTHER variants to these specific titles like I was (I already own the original Image releases and am a semi-CASUAL Bava fan I suppose...these two films being my favorites of his), make sure you do your homework to see if the upgrade is worth it to you. Luckily, the price is somewhat cheap enough depending on where you get it (cheapest here, so far). But I was expecting to run out and get this the day of release, then saw the reviews and that basically put the fire out of my little shopping purchase. This can wait.
And before anyone screams at me for not having this in hand and 'reviewing': Hey. a lot of people were expecting BOTH versions to these films to be included, and now they're not, so this might be helpful and save some disappointment. I sure was going to be ticked off.

And the film companies wonder why the bootleg market flourishes....lol
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It's great to have all of these Mario Bava titles in one set. The transfers are really beautiful, and a revelation to those of us with memories of grainy 16mm TV prints. "Black Sunday's" monochrome atmosphere looks particularly lush in this set. "Kill Baby Kill" is a major upgrade to the crummy, desaturated DVD I have from Image.

But they really SHOULD have included BOTH US and Italian versions of the star attraction, "Black Sabbbath". Or at least cut in Karloff's actual voice to the Italian version! Why not re-edit the way it should be? I still rushed out to buy this set, but cannot give it five stars due to the pre-release publicity which stated BOTH Black Sabbath versions would be in the box set. Anchor Bay owes all of us an apology or a free DVD of the English version.
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I would have bought this set, being a fan of Bava and particularly of these films, but without Karloff's voice in Black Sabbath I personally consider it not worth having. I already have the version with the Italian actor's voice and it DOESN'T WORK. Sorry, Bava and Euro/Iti film fans, but the edited American Version is superior to the original for this reason alone (the other drawbacks are relatively negligable). Why else use Karloff if you don't get the full actor? The Italians never shot synch sound, anyway, so even the original Italian version is dubbed! Dubbing is NOT the issue - in fact, it's a non issue. In fact, due to the Italians use of non-synch, I think most Iti films shot this way often work better dubbed into the native language of the viewer, except where a fairly recognizable actor/voice is concerned, so learn that damn lesson and do things my way now!
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Mario Bava is probably one of the most important and influential, yet lesser known, genre directors to come out of Italian cinema. His films combined an art house sensibility within the 'exploitation' tag they we're labeled with. As it's been noted elsewhere here, he was a master of the gothic horror film, yet his body of work included such genres as Science Fiction, Greek mythology, Viking Sword and sandal tales, Crime capers, serial murderers, anti heroes, sex farces, westerns, surrealism, and psychological tales. His real love was special effects photography, yet he was capable to delivering decent performances from actors. He started off wanting to be a painter, and yet, in spite of that disappointment and yet following in his father's footsteps, he accomplished more as a cinema photographer and director through painting with light and celluloid. One of the stunning aspects of his career was the fact he was able to accomplish more with the limited budgets of his films, then what many new directors do in Hollywood with their multi million budgets, and their unlimited resources of computer effects.

While that might seem an overstatement, considering the many visual delights one can find in the standard Bava film, even a below par films, he's the kind of director that can inspire other filmmakers with his ideas. He was a master of trick photography, especially glass mattes and the layering of images. His skills with lighting a scene, colored lighting, the use of shadows and splashes of light, has been imitated by others, yet many other filmmakers just haven't had the same panache. All of the films included in this first Bava box set, demonstrate all of the above points.
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