Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980
Published by McFarland, 2011. 346 pages.
By Danny Shipka
“To all those who have received grief for their entertainment choices and who see the study of weird and wacky films as important to understanding popular culture.”
That is the little dedication in the beginning of the book, which I immediately felt a kindred spirit with the author, since, like many fans of cult cinema, have had to try and explain and/or defend their love of this genre. For someone who is new to this type of films, especially from the three countries covered here, this would be a great introduction. This is not an in-depth or critical study or college thesis where the author is trying to come up with some outrageous theory, but an general overview of the films, filmmakers, and what was going on in those countries during this time. As a newcomer to this, you will find quite a few titles to add to your “To-Watch” list, which honestly, is the best thing a reference book can do for the reader, making them want to seek out and watch the films that are discussed. And with that, author Shipka does a great job.
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!).
If you are even remotely close to the Manhattan area in NY this month, then you need to make sure you check out some, if not all of these Mario Bava films that are screening all month long in a tribute to this Italian cinematic master. Starting July 14th, the Quad Cinema will be screening more than two dozen of Bava’s titles, such as A Bay of Blood, 5 Dolls for an August Moon, Baron Blood, Black Sabbath, Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace, Danger: Diabolik, Evil Eye, Lisa and the Devil, Kill, Baby…Kill!, Planet of the Vampires and more.
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.
Every single horror fan out there probably knows of and has seen The Blob. Probably both versions! But how many of them has seen the Caltiki: The Immortal Monster!
This Italian film came out a year after we all saw Steve McQueen do battle with the large purple gelatinous form. But Caltiki gives us another deadly devouring mass, which was directed by Riccardo Freda, with none other than Mario Bava as the cinematographer. Though, as the stories go, during production, Freda left, quit, or just walked off the film which was then completely by Bava. None the less, this film is a must for horror fans. There are some effects in here that are pretty damn creepy and gory for a film that came out in 1959.
Now, thanks to Arrow Video, you will have the chance to see this film in all its gory glory. This release will feature a brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, with High Definition blu-ray (1080P) and standard definition DVD presentations. It will also feature the original mono Italian and English soundtracks, with newly translated English subtitles for the Italian language track.
Giallo Cinema and Its Folktale Roots: A Critical Study of 10 Films, 1962-1987
By Michael Sevastakis
Published by McFarland, 2016. 240 pages. $39.95.
Blood and Black Lace (1962)
Directed by Mario Bava
Starring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Thomas Reiner, Ariana Gorini, Dante DiPaolo, Mary Arden, Franco Ressel, Claude Dantes, Luciano Pigozzi, Lea Landers, Massimo Righi, Francesca Ungaro