As if I didn’t love the Music Box Theatre enough already, they have made a deal with Scorpion Releasing to distribute a few of Scorpion’s titles on Blu-ray and DVD, through their Doppelgänger Releasing division. The first of these titles to be coming out is one of my personal favorites of Dario Argento, his 1987 film Opera, which should be out before the end of this year. With the release of Suspiria from Synapse Films, this is going to make a great way to end the year for Italian horror fans.
Some time ago, we posted about a Mario Bava Film Festival that was being held in New York, and that since we’re in the Chicago area, it was just too far to even think of making it to it. But now Chicago fans don’t need to worry since those Bava titles are coming to the Gene Siskel Film Center, starting next weekend, on August 4th! If you have never had the chance to witness the wonder of Mario Bava on the big screen, I couldn’t recommend it enough, especially titles like Blood and Black Lace or Black Sabbath. The colors alone on these two will just blow your mind. But even the beautiful black and white cinematography in Bava’s directorial debut, Black Sunday, is just stunning to see. Seriously, if you are a fan of horror films, Italian horror, or cinema in general, do yourself a favor and make it out to some of these (if not all of them!).
Dark Waters (1993)
Directed by Mariano Baino
Starring Louise Salter, Venera Simmons, Mariya Kapnist, Lubov Snegur, Albina Skarga, Pavel Kokolov
On the audio commentary for Dark Waters, director Baino mentions something that Alfred Hitchcock had said about how the invention of sound would destroy cinema. I am paraphrasing this, but his point was that after movies had sound, more time will be spent listening to the story than watching what is happening on screen. One could listen to a film and pretty much get the idea of what is going on, instead of letting the visuals tell the story, which I think is especially true with today’s features. Well, Dark Waters is a perfect example of the opposite of that theory. In fact, when it starts, there is almost 18 minutes before any real dialogue is heard. And in that short time, unforgettable images appear on screen, such as shots of nuns with large crosses on a hill, or more nuns in a darkened field at night with burning crosses, we see the murder of a young girl, with her blood flowing into the water that is leaking through the catacombs in the convent, to even something simple like an old woman on a bus playing with a couple of spiders. Thse are just but a few visual to start off the film. But it continues through the rest of the running time. If modern day Hollywood made their films look half as good and striking as this one, the cinematic world would be a much better place.
Black Sunday (1960)
Directed by Mario Bava
Starring Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici, Enrico Olivieri, Antonia Pierfederici, Tino Bianchi
Once you start to wander down the path of Italian horror cinema, there is one director that is a must for you to seek out. While I know quite a few fans start out with Dario Argento, which is a great place to start, but you mustn’t stop there, but go further back. Back to 1960 when the film Black Sunday was released. There are many titles that are considered ‘classics’, but director Mario Bava’s tale of witchcraft, Satanism, and revenge, is one of the best examples of black and white horror cinema, or really horror cinema in general.
The Beyond (1981)
Starring Starring Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Larry Ray, Giovanni De Nava, Al Cliver, Michele Mirabella, Gianpaolo Saccarola
The first time I witnessed a Lucio Fulci film was seeing it under a completely different title, the edited American version called Seven Doors of Death. Even the director’s name had been modified, here listed as “Louis Fuller”. This played at the theater I worked at and I remember being very puzzled at just what the hell was happening on screen. I had heard of Zombie, and remember it had been playing at the local drive-in, but I wasn’t driving at that time and couldn’t get anybody to take me to see it. But even then, I had no idea of the connection between the two films. That would definitely come later though.
You may wonder why I’m always talking about horror reference books. Is it because that I’m an avid collector of them and hope that my passion for them rub off on you? Or maybe because I feel the need to keep covering this kind of material because not too many other sites out there do? Or maybe just because I still think that these kind of books are a great way to learn more about this genre that we love so much. Maybe it is all of them.
Now that we’ve finished the Karloff book, it is time to move onto something a little different. Our next book that we’ll be diving into is Troy Howarth’s So Deadly, So Perverse Volume 1 1963-1973, which was published by Midnight Marquee eariler this year. Can’t wait to read into this and start adding some giallo titles to my already overflowing list of movies that I want to watch or re-watch. But once we’re done, we’ll have our review up shortly there after.
The Argento Syndrome
By Derek Botelho
Published by BearManor Media, 2014. 261 pages.
Do we really need another book on Dario Argento? I mean, after the great tome from Alan Jones, what more could be said? The answers to those two questions is Yes and a LOT! There are some books that are just fact based, like reading something from IMDB. Or others are just loaded with stories from the authors point of view. But the real beauty of Botelho’s book is that it is a combination of those two types, making it not only a great read, but very informative.
He covers all of Argento’s movies, but also gives us a little story behind it of how he first saw it, which gives the reader an insight to the author, but it also shows that he is a fan, just like most of us. Reading a book on a filmmaker that is basically someone’s college thesis can sometimes be a bit dry, but Botehlo gives us some great stories about the man, the movies, and the different people that worked on them.