Author Topic: Mario Bava marathon  (Read 33492 times)

Najemikon

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The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) *****
« Reply #30 on: June 30, 2009, 10:17:53 PM »
The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963)
5 out of 5




Achim already mentioned it, but I was still surprised by this, an accomplished suspense thriller in the Hitchcockian tradition after two hefty doses of gothic horror. Bava has several gears and uses them with verve and skill so this is no copycat film, but quite brilliant in its own right. It feels like an important film that has dated very well. I thought Bava was a little behind the curve releasing a traditional horror like Black Sunday in the same year as Psycho, but here he is right at the front.

Like any good Hitchcock, the story delights in piling up the pressure on the heroine; paranoia as soon as she gets off the plane in Rome, quickly bereaved, mugged and then witnesses a murder, all within the first half-hour or so and leaving her a suspected neurotic! It sounds too absurd and too fast, and when you think about it for too long, horribly contrived, but it never feels like that. Instead it feels like great fun and an exercise in superlative suspense. The early moment with the cigarette packet is a stand-out, there are more than a couple of decent shocks and you’ll gnaw your finger nails right down when the locked door finally opens. He seems to love the idea of a threatening telephone, brilliantly using very similar scenes to the first part of Black Sabbath. It has wonderful, sophisticated photography throughout and is a big improvement on the earlier entries in this set, especially the old lady’s demise and the steps that are deeply threatening at night, but so innocent in day. Bava handles the wide-open spaces as well as when he suffocates his cast.

I can’t help feeling that Suspiria took much of its lead from this film, with a loosely similar plot and sets. The photography as an intruder peers through the windows is a very similar set-up to what Argento would use later and both feature an American tourist investigating old murders, the answer to which lies behind a locked door... Of course, it goes in a very different direction. No witches or supernatural gore here! And that’s what surprises most, that this is so restrained yet still rich.

The central couple of Leticia Roman and John Saxon are excellent. The film rests comfortably on her shoulders, while he gives the story flashes of humour. The gag with his broken finger is put to good use throughout. I know what Achim means by trying too hard, but I think it's more enthusiasm!

As it had been mentioned before, I was wary of the voiceover and it does sometimes jar, but at the same time, it’s a lovely conceit, fitting her actions in with a typical murder mystery novel that she loves so much. It’s a well executed quirk that gives the plot an edge of parody and character; Saxon said in an interview that although this was Giallo and possibly the first, it is also poking a bit of fun at a well established plot. As Jimmy says, Giallo would become something more brutal, but I think this has an innocence that stands up very well. Too well possibly as you may find it predictable, but it doesn’t take anything away and is so slick as to reward repeat viewings.

Although this does owe a huge debt to Hitchcock, it’s worth pointing out that he never pulled off a traditional murder mystery as assured as this and Bava has enough of his own tricks and very distinctive style to stand apart. Possibly wraps up the inevitable romance better as well, with a nice gag around the cigarettes that started it all.

Any fan of thrillers, especially Hitchcock’s, would enjoy this and find a route deep into Italian cinema by following it with Suspiria.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2009, 10:22:44 PM by Jon »

Najemikon

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #31 on: July 01, 2009, 11:34:35 PM »
 :bag:

whoops. I've skipped one. Don't suppose it matters too much as Knives of the Avenger was the same year as Kill, Baby... Kill. Normal service to be resumed tomorrow. :-[

Najemikon

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Knives of the Avenger (1966) ***
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2009, 11:35:41 PM »
Knives of the Avenger (1966)
3 out of 5




Bava proves himself to be a master of all genres by taking on the Western and for the most part, does so very well. As Akira Kurosawa did with Seven Samurai, this is Western at heart even though it's about Vikings. Unfortunately, whereas Kurosawa could claim to have possibly rescued the genre, this is far less important, aping the style of Leone's Fistful of Dollars (1964) a little too close in the newly coined "Spaghetti" Western, and using Shane (1953) as a too obvious template.

It's an interesting mix and the fact it works at all should be applauded and it is very enjoyable, if sadly predictable if you know Shane. The rugged acting and straightforward bare dialogue matches the colourful cinematography, and it really is pure Leone (even the music has a Morricone edge), so if you like those films, you'll know what to expect. To be honest, I always found Shane a bit weak so I didn't mind seeing it filtered through the more passionate Spaghetti style and thank goodness we didn't have the kid whining at the end! No matter how unoriginal his sources, Bava knows how to handle a set-piece or two with good solid knockabout action and a bar brawls to rival John Wayne's. Achim picked up on the colour style as well and it's a very good point as the colours match the mood, as does the style over all. He really is very good at changing the pace and some moments are sinister while others are bright and almost comedic.

It may sound like I'm being too critical of his copycat approach to this film, but it's worth bearing in mind the way the industry worked at the time. Directors didn't always have complete freedom to forge new paths and sometimes were just for hire. Indeed, Bava was apparently drafted into this at the last moment and had to deal with what looked like a complete rip-off of The Vikings (1958), complete with a blonde haired hero (Cameron Mitchell instead of Kirk Douglas). He rewrote it in just a few days, so perhaps was rather shrewd in picking genres and stories that were financially proven. And making the leap from wishy-washy melodramatic Shane to hard-boiled death-ridden Leone was certainly unpredictable!

Offline Achim

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #33 on: July 02, 2009, 06:03:49 AM »
To my shame I have never seen Shane, hence I couldn't see the similarities (even if I had seen Shane I might have still not realized them... :bag:).

Najemikon

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #34 on: July 02, 2009, 11:59:06 AM »
To my shame I have never seen Shane, hence I couldn't see the similarities (even if I had seen Shane I might have still not realized them... :bag:).

I reckon you would, because it's so blatant! Actually, Bava reminds me of... no. No, I can't say it, Jimmy would get upset. :devil:

Offline Achim

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #35 on: July 02, 2009, 12:29:45 PM »
 :hysterical:

Offline Achim

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #36 on: July 03, 2009, 05:46:32 PM »
MOVIE / DVD INFO:

Title: 5 bambole per la luna d'agosto
Year: 1970
Director: Mario Bava
Rating: NR
Length: 81 Min.
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio: Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English

Stars:
William Berger
Ira Furstenberg
Edwige Fenech
Howard Ross
Helena Ronee [Helena Ronée]

Plot:
Bava's ultra-mod 1970 murder mystery remains one of the most critically divisive and little-seen films of his career. Bava imbues the derivative script with a sly streak of black humor and a steady stream of eye-popping visuals, including a va-va-voom performance by giallo goddess Edwige Fenech. Never released theatrically in America, it has since become a favorite of Bava fans worldwide.

Extras:
Scene Access

My Thoughts:
Four couples, the houseboy and the daughter of an absent fifth couple are vacationing over the weekend on an island. Apparently one of them is a professor who discovered a formula which the other three men want to buy from him. However the professor doesn't want to sell, whatever the over may be, going as far as burning the papers which hold the formula. One of the wives goes to see the houseboy in order to have him pleasure her only to find him murdered. Now, if you counted with me in the beginning and ever heard of "Ten Little Indians" you know what follows. Or do you...?

Bava follows the basic structure of the famous Agatha Christie plot for a while, introducing us to the characters while killing on off every once in a while. But just as we are beginning to get potentially get bored of this well known structure he throws in a WTF moment which instantly had me sit up straight and glued back to the screen. This is then followed by an interesting twist-a-rama which is ended with a surprise ending (which had me immediately rewind and rewatch as I didn't get it the first time...).

As mentioned on the cover blurb, I can see why this film had the audience divided. While the film displays stylish direction and mostly good dialog (the subtitles are riddled with bad spelling and grammar though; not as bad as Asian ones though :laugh:) it is quite a mixed bag, trying to be sexy (they all seem to come on to each other at some point), suspenseful and funny (especially that music when they reveal another dead body) within minutes of each other. The acting all over the place, with some doing a decent job and others being rather mediocre.


Offline Jimmy

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #37 on: July 04, 2009, 06:23:09 AM »
MOVIE / DVD INFO:


Title: Knives of the Avenger (1966)

Genre: Action
Director: Mario Bava
Rating: Unrated
Length: 1h25
Video: Widescreen
Audio: Italian and English
Subtitles: English

Stars:
Cameron Mitchell   
Fausto Tozzi
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart
Elissa Pichelli
Luciano Pollentin

Plot:
In their third and final collaboration, 'Cameron Mitchell' stars for 'Mario Bava' as a Viking drifter torn between guilt, vengeance and his love for a peasant woman and her young son. Co-written by Bava (as 'John Hold'), the film delivers robust raping and pillaging yet proffers a uniquely humanistapproach that virtually re-imagines SHANE as a Viking drama. The result transcends its typically chestthumping genre to emerge as one of Bava's most emotionally complex and visually compelling films.

My Thoughts:
Certainly not my favorite Bava's movie, since this kind of movies aren't really my taste (that explain why it took me so long to start this week). After a couple of "rewind" to catch up what I've missing while falling asleep, it took me more than four hours for ending this viewing. Sure the location is beautifull, the theme song is powerfull and the movie had a couple of good fight (even if the one between Rurik and Arald near the end is a little bit ridiculous) but... This movie is a boring rushed job where everything is repeating as nauseam and to make thing worst than they are already this movie had one of the most annoying kid to ever appear on screen (less than the one in The House by the Cemetery, but not by much).

Painful and boring to watch.

Rating :

Offline Achim

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #38 on: July 04, 2009, 08:43:44 AM »
After a couple of "rewind" to catch up what I've missing while falling asleep, it took me more than four hours for ending this viewing.
:hysterical:

Najemikon

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #39 on: July 04, 2009, 08:55:03 AM »
and to make thing worst than they are already this movie had one of the most annoying kid to ever appear on screen

Don't bother with Shane then! This kid was far better than the the little fat cross-eyed blonde-haired robot from the original.  :whistle:

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #40 on: July 05, 2009, 07:01:35 AM »
MOVIE / DVD INFO:


Title: 5 Dolls for an August Moon (1970)

Genre: Murder Mystery
Director: Mario Bava
Rating: Unrated
Length: 1h21
Video: Widescreen
Audio: Italian
Subtitles: English

Stars:
William Berger
Ira von Fürstenberg
Edwige Fenech
Howard Ross
Helena Ronée

Plot:
Bava's ultra-mod 1970 murder mystery remains one of the most critically divisive and little-seen films of his career. Bava imbues the derivative script with a sly streak of black humor and a steady stream of eye-popping visuals, including a va-va-voom performance by giallo goddess Edwige Fenech. Never released theatrically in America, it has since become a favorite of Bava fans worldwide.

My Thoughts:
Now that's more what I like, a well done sexy Giallo that isn't the most brutal one but certainly complicated. What we have is essentially is murders that happen in a close room (ok it's an island, but this is mostly the same) and we know that the murderer is one of the 10 protagonists. Evidently you will make a lot wrong guess before knowing who is the killer and this is the essence of a good Giallo, a genre where the Italians are the masters. The end was a surprise for me the first time and I've appreciated it and I've seen the hints that explain it (I've seen the movie 3 times it sure help). Great performance from Howard Ross, Maurice Poli (wait to see him in Kidnapped for another great performance), Edwige Fenech (who is more than just a beautifull girl), Helena Ronée (who looks a little bit like Margaret Lee) and Ely Galleani (surprisingly it's her first role, she doesn't had a lot of line but she's perfect). Some of the shoots are really beautifull like the crystal balls that roll directly to another victim. It's clear with this movie that Bava was ready for the seventies even if the sexy side of this movie was not develloped enough, but this isn't really a surprise coming from Mario Bava who was uncomfortable with this aspect.

A great openning for a magnificent set of movies ;D  

Rating :
« Last Edit: July 05, 2009, 09:38:25 AM by Jimmy »

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #41 on: July 05, 2009, 07:06:50 AM »
Next movies for this week

Roy Colt & Winchester Jack (1970)
Bay of Blood (1971)

and we are waiting for the review of Kill, Baby...Kill! from Jon

Najemikon

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #42 on: July 05, 2009, 01:10:08 PM »
Next movies for this week

Roy Colt & Winchester Jack (1970)
Bay of Blood (1971)

and we are waiting for the review of Kill, Baby...Kill! from Jon


 :bag:

Offline Achim

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #43 on: July 07, 2009, 02:47:02 PM »
MOVIE / DVD INFO:

Title: Roy Colt e Winchester Jack
Year: 1970
Director: Mario Bava
Rating: NR
Length: 85 Min.
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio: Italian: Dolby Digital Mono, English: Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English

Stars:
Brett Halsey
Charles Southwood
Marilù Tolo
Teodoro Corrà
Guido Lollobrigida

Plot:
In perhaps the most atypical film of his career, director Maria Bava combines elements of THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID for one of the first tongue-in-cheek comedies of the 'Spaghetti Western' genre. Brett Halsey (FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT), Charles Southwood (FISTFUL OF LEAD) and Marilù Tolo (DJANGO, KILL!) star in a tale of two good-natured outlaws, one wily Native American prostitute, and a fortune in gold that triggers the greed of ruthless gunmen, dyspeptic clergymen, and even a Sergio Leone look-alike. Teodoro Corrà (5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON) co-stars in this little-seen charmer blending rousing action and bawdy humor with inventive visuals that remain undeniably Bava.

Extras:
Scene Access

My Thoughts:
This is something different, a spaghetti western as a comedy. Unfortunately that's where (my) problem begins, as I have never really enjoyed Italian comedies all that much. The first half was quite funny and the jokes, while silly and partly almost slapstick very enjoyable. But after the intermission (yes, this 85 minutes movie has an intermission point half way through!) it couldn't keep up with itself and fell apart, at least watching from where I was sitting. The comedy is far and between during this stretch of the film and I was quickly beginning to look at the clock to see how much longer I had.

The story, if predictable, was entertaining. A pair of bandits split at the beginning of the movie, with one of them pursuing an honest career. Ultimately they end up going after a gold treasure, from different sides of the law with a third gangster, the Reverend, in between. Of course there is a love interest to make things interesting. As appropriate for such film, there is a sufficient amount of twists and turns.


Offline Achim

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Re: Mario Bava marathon
« Reply #44 on: July 07, 2009, 02:48:26 PM »
Bit of a let down, that one. I have higher hopes for Bay of Blood, which will be next. I remember it had received praise from Jimmy in the past and is more along the lines what Bava does best.