Mario Bava Retrospective at The American Cinamatheque

Written by Joe D on March 11th, 2008

They’re showing a lot of Mario Bava films at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, starting Thursday, March 13th at 7:30 pm with La Maschera Del Demonio (USA Black Sunday) and Tre Volti Della Paura (USA Black Sabbath). La Maschera Del Demonio is probably my favorite Bava film.


Barbara Steele, So Sexy, So Evil!

It is a pure example of a film made by someone rapturously in love with filmmaking, the textures, the details, the techniques Bava uses are so beautifully executed, he’s the closest thing to an Old Master in Cinema. Because like Michaelangelo or Rembrandt he created the images with his own hands, he was the cameraman, the special effects artist and the director. This is a tremendously influential film and a hell of a lot of fun to watch, especially in a theater in glorious 35mm Black & White! Be there CinemaFiends, you won’t regret it!


It’s playing with Tre Volti Della Paura (USA Black Sabbath), and according to the Cinematheque’s website, this is where Ozzy got the name for his heavy metal band! Another great film shown in the Italian language version, 3 stories of terror, the standout being The Wurdulak starring Boris Karloff, Bava’s favorite film. See it in glorious Technicolor!


I don’t know if the Italian version of this film has the same coda as the American but I hope so, it shows Boris Karloff riding a galloping horse at night, the camera pulls back and we see how Bava pulled off this illusion, it’s a magnificient bit of cinematic sleight of hand and thank God the maestro allowed us to see what was up his sleeve on this occasion. I will write about more of this retrospective in days to come but here is the link so you can see for yourselves what’s playing. Mario Bava At The Egyptian.
p.s. I will Be There! I hope you all will be too!

2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Mar

    Me and Mrs H were discussing The Mask of Satan / La Maschera Del Demonio the other day and the use of black and white film- I was asked if this was primarily a budget question or of homage to earlier film as it has a feel of hammer meets 1930s/40s horror.

    I didn’t know the answer to that one.

    I must confess that I no longer have a copy of this one as I threw my old vhs copy out when my last vhs player finally went to that museum of old technologies in the sky .

    I think it may be about time I get myself upgraded on this one to DVD.

  2. Mar

    I think it was a combination of both reasons, this was Bava’s “official” directorial debut and B&W did cost less than color but there are effects in the film that would only have worked in B&W, primarily when Barbara Steele is aging near the end of the film. Also the look of the film seems designed for B&W starting with the visual gag of the muscle man swinging a huge mallet, a reference to the Rank logo. I understand on a recent DVD release there’s some behind the scenes footage in color of Barbara Steele on one of the sets of Black Sunday. Also Tim Lucas’s commentary on this film is excellent.

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