For a complete filmography go to the IMDB
Born: July 31, 1914, San Remo, Italy
Italian director and cinematographer,
he learned his craft by assisting his father Eugenio Bava, a former cameraman
who headed the Instituto Luce's optical effects department. Bava became
a director of photography in 1939 and shot films by Roberto Rossellini,
G.W. Pabst and Raoul Walsh.
Bava collaborated with Riccardo Freda on I, VAMPIRI (1957), the first Italian horror film of the sound
era, initially as cameraman and optical effects designer, then directing
half the film in only two days when Freda abandoned the film. In 1959,
Freda intentionally tricked Bava into finishing Caltiki, the Immortal Monster.
This led to his screen directorial debut, LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO (Black Sunday - 1960)
based on the Nikolai Gogol story "Vij" (1835) and is a perfect conglomeration
of nightmare and fairytale, parlaying the haunted forest ambience of Universal
and the graphic violence of Hammer into something uniquely Italian.
The following three films showed
Bava at the height of his creative powers. LA FRUSTA E IL CORPO (The Whip and the Body - 1963)
cast Dahlia Lavi and Christopher Lee in a vertiginously romantic period
film about a masochist haunted by the ghost of her whip-wielding lover.
I TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA (Black Sabbath - 1963), a three-part anthology which gave Karloff
his last great horror role was often cited by Bava as his own personal
favourite, and SEI DONNE PER L'ASSASSINO (Blood and Black Lace - 1964) is the first great giallo,
a deleriously colourful, nakedly sadistic whodunit about fashion models
being murdered by a maniac in search of an incriminating diary.
With TERRORE NELLO SPAZIO (Planet of the Vampires - 1965),
in which members of an exploratory space mission are physically invaded
by the disembodied spirits of an alien race, Bava achieved a successful
fusion of SF and Horror and was a major influence on the 1979 film, Alien.
After the disastrous LE SPIE VENGONO DAL SEMIFREDDO (Dr Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs - 1966), he rebounded
with OPERAZIONE PAURA (Kill Baby Kill - 1966) a low-budget, gothic masterpiece about villagers
haunted by the ball bouncing ghost of a little girl, whose apparition compels
them to commit suicide. Oedipal and unsettling, with unexpected sequences
of Escher-like dislocations of time and space, the film was an influence
on later films by Fellini, Scorsese and Lynch.
In 1968 Bava was approached
by Dino De Laurentiis to film DANGER: DIABOLIK, the biggest assignment
of his career. Budgeted at $3,000,000, DIABOLIK was completed for only
$400,000. In 1969 Bava directed the darkly comic UN'ACCETTA PER LA LUNA
DI MIELE (Hatchet for the Honeymoon) in Barcelona, followed by CINQUE BAMBOLE E LA LUNA D'AGOSTO (Five Dolls for an August Moon - 1970).
He then impishly extended, even obliterated, the frontiers of the sub-genre
with L'ECOLOGIE DEL DELITTO (Twitch of the Death Nerve - 1971), a diabolical black comedy which boasts
13 characters and 13 outrageously splashy murders. Reviled at the time
of its release, it proved prophetic when the imitative Friday the 13th
(1980) launched a new generation of "body count' movies.
GLI ORRORI DEL CASTELLO DI
NORIMBERGA (Baron Blood - 1972) was followed by the extraordinary IL DIAVOLO E IL MORTO
(Lisa nd the Devil - 1973). Based on memories of growing up among his fathers sculptures, dialogue
borrowed from Dostoevsky and an unrealised project about necrophile Viktor
Ardisson, IL DIAVOLO E IL MORTO unfolds like a waking dream, following
disorinted heroine Elke Sommer through a time-suspended labyrinth of love,
sex and violent death. When the film proved unsaleable at the 1973 Cannes
Festival, Bava re-made the film as LA CASA DELL'ESORCISMO (The house of Exorcism - 1975), a bewildering Exorcist
rip-off. This served its purpose, easing the original out of the red, and
has been forgoten, while LISA E IL DIAVOLO has resurfaced on video and DVD to an
overdue audience of admirers.
He found it harder and harder
to find directorial assignments after turning 60, and several green-lighted
projects also turned unlucky. Troubled by his fathers inactivity, son Lamberto
Bava (his assistant since 1966) scripted what proved to be his final feature,
SHOCK (1977), the harrowing story of a woman's mental collapse after returning
to the house she once lived with her late, drug-addicted husband. Bava
died of a heart attack at age 66.
- For the complete article
by Tim Lucas, see BFI Companion to Horror - edt. by Kim Newman, 1996
Mario Bava Web Page - Excellent site, with biography, filmography and photos.
The Haunted World of Mario Bava by Troy Howart, is available from fabpress. This is book 3 in their director series, and is available to buy now but will be shipped at the end of April, 2002. A 352 page book, with 80 pages in colour.
Mario Bava, All the Colours of the Dark by Tim Lucas. On its way for a couple of years (actually 27 years according to the ad on their site!), available from Video Watchdog. At $97 (if pre-ordered before 6/30/02) it will be the definitive guide on Mario Bava containing more than 60 interviews, critical analysis of all his films and much much more.