Monday, July 7, 2014

Mario Bava Collection, The: Vol. 2

Film & Disc Review, Mario Bava Collection, The: Vol. 2
by Rusty White
reviewed: 2007-11-23

Director: Mario Bava
Movie rating: 7/10
DVD rating: 8/10
DVD Release Date: 10/23/2007
Running Time: 813 minutes
Rating: R
Disc Details

Starz / Anchor Bay

List Price: $49.98

Running Time: 813 minutes

Special Features:
Feature Film: Lisa and the Devil
Commentary by author Tim Lucas
Feature Film: The House of Exorcism
Commentary by producer Alfred Leone and actress Elke Sommer
Radio spot
Feature Film: Baron Blood
Commentary by author Tim Lucas
Radio spots
Feature Film: Kidnapped
Feature Film: Rabid Dogs
Commentary by author Tim Lucas
Documentary: End of the Road: Making Rabid Dogs and Kidnapped
Mario Bava Bio
Feature Film: Four Times That Night
Feature Film: Five Dolls For An August Moon
Feature Film: Roy Colt & Winchester Jack
Feature Film: Bay of Blood
Commentary by author Tim Lucas
Radio spots
Poster and Still Gallery

Video Format:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)

Language Tracks:
English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0)


Closed Captions:

6-disc Keep Case

Volume 2 of "The Mario Bava Collection" contains several very good films and some really bad ones. The reviews below are based on my preference from best to worst.


Italian horror master tried to branch out into another genre in 1974. He shot a film and was in the process of editing it when the producer went bankrupt. Bava's film languished in legal limbo for 25 years. He died before his film would see the light of day. Bava fans can rejoice at this long lost masterpiece. Who knows what effect this would have had on Bava's career had it been released back in 1974! I won't go into a lot of the background of these two films as the DVD includes some great extras which explain everything. I will say this: two versions of the film have been released. "Rabid Dogs" came out in 1998 and the restored version called "Kidnapped" was released in 2002. This DVD includes both versions of the film.

The plot involves a robbery gone quite bad. Four gangsters take down a payroll. There is loss of life on both sides as the police arrive immediately. A car and then foot chase results in the gang being surrounded in a parking garage. They take a hostage and escape. A few blocks later, the gang abandons the woman's car and carjacks a man sitting at a red light. The man has a sick boy in the car with him. The remainder of the movie involves the gang's escape. The bulk of the story takes place in the car as it tries to get out of Rome.

Actor Riccardo Cucciolla plays Riccardo, the level-headed driver who only wants to get his son to the hospital. German actress Lea Lander plays the distraught woman hostage. The three surviving gang members are lead by Doctor (Maurice Poli). Doc is a calm but menacing presence. His two henchmen are '32' (George Eastman) and Blade (Don Backy). '32' is so named because of the size of his penis. Remember that Italy is on the metric system. You do the conversion. Blade is proficient in the use of his stiletto.

The movie is harrowing. The story is told in real time. The claustrophobic setting adds tension that is almost unbearable. The film also includes one of the great twist endings in film history. Mario Bava was a master story-teller. His horror films have sent shivers down countless millions of spines. These two films show that he would have been one of the great crime movie directors had fate worked out differently. There are many who say that this is the director's best film. I'm still undecided on that point, but this is one of the greatest films to be produced in the 1970s.

There are some differences in the two versions of the movie. "Kidnapped" is a tighter film. Even though it is just one minute shorter, it moves much faster. Mario Bava's son Lamberto filmed a couple of short prologue scenes to clarify a point that is important to the end of the film. He also took out one scene from the 1998 version. The big difference is that the 1998 film has a new score. The earlier score is raw, like the movie itself. You be the judge of which version you like better.


In 1971 Mario Bava invented the slasher film. "Bay of Blood" is one of the most imitated horror films in modern history. The plot involves a series of murders perpetrated to gain control of the estate of the movie's first victim. The film's opening shows an elderly woman being hung from her wheelchair. She dies and it is revealed that her husband did the dirty deed. Out of the darkness the film's real killer dispatches the husband. There are eleven more murders to go. Mario Bava turned from his giallo routines and focused on all out gore. Watching this for the first time, I was surprised by how much was familiar to me. Several of Mario Bava's set pieces have been copied shot for shot by other filmmakers. Sean S. Cunningham owes much of his work to this movie.


"Lisa and the Devil" is a poetic and romantic gothic horror film. It is one of his certifiable masterpieces. The beauty of the film was not recognized when it was first released. Producer Alfred Leone later filmed new scenes and recut the movie to cash in on the success of "The Exorcist." The resulting "House of Exorcist" will be discussed much further down on the list of reviews.

Mario Bava's masterpiece is a surreal ghost story that deserves several viewings to appreciate the director's artistry. Tim Lucas explains on the commentary track that Bava had free reign to make the kind of movie he wanted to make with this production. Elke Sommer plays a tourist who ends up in a Spanish town. She sees a mural depicting the devil taking souls to Hell. Later she stumbles into a curio shop and sees man picking up a mannequin. The customer (Telly Savalas) turns to face her and she is startled to discover he looks just like Satan in the mural.

Ms. Sommer gets separated from her tour group. Through a chain of events she ends up at a mysterious mansion. Guess who the butler is? Telly Savalas. What follows is best discovered by the viewer. This dream-state horror film holds many rewards.


"Five Dolls For the August Moon" was one of Mario Bava's final giallos. The film contains an ecological undertone. It is also a sharp satire about corporate greed.

A group of businessmen and their wives gather on an island estate. The tycoons have invited a scientist in order to buy the miraculous formula he invented. The scientist is not interested in profit. He wants to give his discovery to mankind. Bodies start piling up and yet the bigwigs continue their quest to buy the scientist. They seem nonplussed by the brutal murders which happen around them. This movie contains many deaths but no on-screen murders. More mystery and satire than gorefest.


Elke Sommer co-stars with Joseph Cotten in this somewhat predictable but still entertaining horror film. This was a work-for-hire by Mario Bava. The plot deals with the revived spirit of an evil baron committing murder and mayhem in Austria. There is no surprise concerning just who the evil baron really is. The film is interesting due to Mario Bava's visual flair. The movie also pays homage to the Vincent Price classic "House of Wax."


Mario Bava took a stab (no pun intended) at sex farce with this Kurosawa inspired comedy. A virgin comes home from her date with her dress torn. Her beau for the evening has scratches on his forehead. Was she raped or did she submit to some rough sex? Bava takes the plot device from Kurosawa's "Rashoman" and tells what happened from several points of view. A few laughs. More a curio than anything else. The movie is full of Mod 60s production design and costumes. A time capsule.


Producer Alfred Leone could not sell Bava's "Lisa and the Devil." Three years later he approached Elke Sommer and enlisted her in shooting additional scenes to turn the movie into an "Exorcist" rip-off. Actor Robert Alda was brought on board to play the priest. What follows is a major mess. The violence and sex is more graphic than in the original film. To be avoided at all costs.


If you read the last line of my review of the above movie, then you can imagine what I think about this one. This was Bava's Spaghetti Western. It is more comedy than action film. It works as neither. The plot involves two gunslingers from the same gang who split up and go into competition with each other. Poorly shot, acted and written.

The Disc
A nice set for Bava completist. I would have rather had "Hatchet For the Honeymoon" in this set than the Western. Oh well. In a perfect world. Good picture and sound. Fair extras.

Picture Quality: 7/10
The picture quality varies from film to film. Bava's Western has the worst picture quality. Washed out colors and artifacts galore. A few of the other films contain the occasional artifact, but for the most part have sharp images and well-saturated colors.

Sound Quality: 7/10
Each soundtrack is in the original mono. No loss of dialogue.

Easter Eggs:
No Easter Eggs Found on Disc.

Extra Features: 7/10
Kudos to author Tim Lucas for a great commentary tracks. I've enjoyed Mr. Lucas's commentary tracks on a previously released "Mario Bava Boxed St" released by VCI, as well Anchor Bay's "Mario Bava Boxed Set Vol. 1." Mr. Lucas is the founder and editor of the great magazine "Video Watchdog." He is also the author of a huge book on the life and films of Mario Bava. Like Eddie Mueller, who does the best commentary tracks around for Film Noir DVDs, Tim Lucas adds so much to the experience of watching a Mario Bava film. I enjoy Bava's work for its visual beauty and psychological terror. Tim Lucas takes you several steps deeper into the mind of Mario Bava. (Hey Santa! Bring me Mr. Lucas's book!)

The "Rabid Dogs" contains a great original documentary on the making of this film. Do not watch the documentary before you see the movie as it includes spoilers. The documentary includes interviews with many of the main players in this drama.

The collection also includes a quite lengthy text biography of director Mario Bava. Trivia note. The Italian master of suspense died within days of THE master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock.

This set also contains trailers for most of the movies as well as radio spots for others.

The Final Word:

A good follow-up to Anchor Bay's first boxed set of Mario Bava films.

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