Bava, Mario


Bava, Mario
(1914-1980)
   Writer, cinematographer, director. Now internationally acknowledged as the master of Italian B-grade horror films, Bava learned the craft of special effects photography from his father, Eugenio, a set and special effects designer and cinematographer of the silent era. By the early 1930s Bava had joined his father at the Istituto LUCE and helped to photograph two of Roberto Rossellini's earliest shorts, La vispa Teresa (Lively Theresa, 1939) and Il tacchino prepotente (The Bullying Turkey, 1939). He subsequently joined the Scalera studios and worked as a camera operator on Francesco De Robertis's Uomini sul fondo (Men on the Sea Floor, 1941) and Rossellini's La nave bianca (The White Ship, 1941) before graduating to cinematographer on Luigi Menardi's L'avventura di Annabella (Annabella's Adventure, 1943).
   In the immediate postwar period he made a number of documentaries before initiating a partnership with director Pietro Francisci, for whom he photographed Natale al campo 119 (Christmas at Camp 119, 1948) and Antonio di Padova (Anthony of Padua, 1949). After also working with, among others, Steno and Mario Monicelli on Vita da cani (A Dog's Life, 1950) and Guardie e ladri (Cops and Robbers, 1951) and Mario Camerini on Gli eroi della domenica (Sunday Heroes, 1954), he provided sets, special effects, cinematography, and codirection for Riccardo Freda's seminal Ivampiri (The Devil's Commandment, 1957). He then worked with Francisci again on Le fatiche di Ercole (Hercules, 1957), the film that initiated the peplum genre, before making his solo directorial debut with La maschera del demonio (Black Sunday, 1960), the film with which he is generally regarded as having laid the foundation for all subsequent Italian horror films.
   There followed Ercole al centro della terra (Hercules and the Haunted World, 1961), an interesting mixture of the peplum and horror genres, and the Viking adventure fantasy Gli invasori (Erik the Conqueror, 1961) before La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Evil Eye, 1962), regarded by many as the first true giallo. This was quickly followed by several more accomplished, if small-budget, exercises in gothic horror: I tre volti della paura (Black Sabbath, 1963), three separate stories, one of which stars the legendary actor Boris Karloff; and La frusta e il corpo (The Whip and the Body, 1963), made under the pseudonym John M. Old. A year later, Sei donne per l'assassino (Blood and Black Lace, 1963) confirmed Bava's unequalled mastery of the giallo. Ever resourceful and versatile, Bava then tried his hand at a Western, La strada per Fort Alamo (The Road to Fort Alamo, 1964), before merging science fiction with horror in Terrore nello spazio (Planet of the Vampires, 1965), a film that in many ways anticipated Ridley Scott's Alien (1979). After the hilarious spy-film spoof Le spie vengono dal semifreddo (Dr. Gold-foot and the Girl Bombs, 1966), Bava returned to the supernatural horror genre with Operazione paura (Kill, Baby, Kill, 1966), which he followed with the stylish, if rather kitschy, adaptation of the exploits of the comic-book master criminal, Diabolik (1968).
   After another foray into the Western genre, Bava returned to the giallo with 5 bambole per la luna d'agosto (Island of Terror, 1970), a remake of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, which was quickly followed by Ecologia del Delitto (Twitch of the Death Nerve, 1971) and Gli orrori del castello di Norimberga (Baron Blood, 1972), both of which were generally regarded as disappointing. Lisa e il diavolo (Lisa and the Devil), made in 1972 but only released internationally in 1975 in a much reedited version (and retitled La casa dell'esorcismo The House of Exorcism in order to cash in on the release of William Friedkin's The Exorcist), also proved to be something of a flop. His final feature, Shock (Beyond the Door II, 1977), the story of an apparently possessed child, similarly failed to restore his stocks. After codirecting an episode of a television compilation film, Il giorno del diavolo (The Day of the Devil, 1978), with his son, Lamberto, Bava's last contribution to film was as cinematographer and special effects director on Dario Argento's Inferno (1980).

Historical dictionary of Italian cinema. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Mario Bava — Born July 31, 1914 San Remo, Liguria, Italy Died April 25, 1980(1980 04 25) (aged 65) Rome, Italy …   Wikipedia

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  • Bava, Lamberto — (1944 )    Director, screenwriter, producer. Son of cinematographer and director Mario Bava, Lamberto Bava followed in his father s footsteps to become a prolific director and producer in the horror film genre. After assisting his father on a… …   Guide to cinema


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