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Mario Bava

w/o horse · 1 · 898

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w/o horse

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on: March 25, 2008, 03:32:22 PM
  This thought organized itself while I was watching The Girl Who Knew Too Much:  Mario Bava is one of very few filmmakers who create instant childhoods.  He's one of a handful of filmmakers who can actually project the energy, imagination, and wonder of cinema onto the screen, and in this way he realizes the highly revered objective of cinema of fabricating dreamscapes and producing total immersion.  A Bava film is self-sufficient, it offers all its own rules its own fears its own landscapes and characters and consequences, and not only does it do these things but it believes in these things, and all things on the screen serve the story.  A highly recognizable trait of a Bava film is the playful camera.  Another is colors that are not realistic but the externalization of characters' interior conflicts.  These visual qualities dominate the eye and transport the viewer into Bava's landscape - a landscape just beyond what is real.
  The strong filmic aspects of Bava's vision lend credibility and believability by the power of his talents, and so completely does he affect he stories that all matters seemingly impossible become alive and real.  Contemporary kindred spirits:  Lynch yes, but also Guillermo del Toro, Michel Gondry, Tim Burton, etc all others who from frame one creates new worlds inhabitable from your seat (truthfully these are safe comparisons.  I'd extend the magnitude of Bava's accomplishments into every corner of cinema, and I'd justify this by the astonishing breadth and the unnadaptability of his work.  Bava is pure cinema like any great filmmaker).
  Stylization is an important component of Bava's films, but what about the content of his films?  His work is classic genre and suffers from the same one dimensional characters that other purists do.  We know more about what is happening to the character than who the character is and we pass judgment on the characters mainly by how they are reacting to the events.  Of Diabolik, the title character from Danger:  Diabolik, we know that he likes terrorizing, fucking, and being rich.  Compare this to a similar contemporary film, like say Besson's Nikita, and it's fair to say that the lack of full characters in Bava's films is a negative.  That's not to say there isn't characterization, and I'd accuse Hitchcock (Bava was once given the epithet of The Italian Hitchcock, after all) of the same.  Good characters function like emotional sponges and without them it is difficult to enter the story.  At their best a Bava character becomes a vessel into which we submit our own sentiment which can make the characters distend outside the script's reach, and it's why Truffout was sure Hithcock's films had deeper meanings and why Woody Allen was sure they didn't:  it's mostly what you bring into them that you take out of them.
  All the emotion and all the character are embedded in the films' design.  Each film is one whole violent burst of emotion, one knowable character of fear and human suffering.  Bava rarely repeated himself, so there's a lot of traveling to do, a lot of diversity and a range of accomplishments.  He explored the classical horror genre as thoroughly as anybody else and seeing all his films is like finding the pathway down the direct center of horror.
  Black Sunday, 1960, is the greatest gothic horror film ever made, above anything Hammer or Corman did, because it replaces the stodgy and insincere atmosphere of the others with frantic and sincere passion.  It is confident, adventurous, playful, imaginative, creative, and delightful:  from the first couple minutes - and the first couple minutes are like being sent on the tallest, fastest hill on the roller coaster right away.  This movie has satanism, castles, nail-masks, reincarnations, trap doors, carriages, and curses all in one - it may as well be the lexicon of gothic horror.  Bava twelve years later in Baron Blood parodies the haunted castle film, playing with the idea of curses and torture dungeons in a contemporary society.
  Bay of Blood, 1971, is notable not only for being the creation of slasher horror, but for being a really great slasher horror film.  It has a variety of kills and a plot involving deceit, secrets, betrayal, and mystery.  You really don't even see plots in slasher films anymore.  Hatchet for the Honeymoon, 1970, is a fun trip inside a sadistic mind, an exploration of the madness of a killer:  a specific killer, the serial killer, and Hatchet plays out like an early example of the fun loving murder type of films that dominate so much of horror and became mainstream popular with Dexter.  The Girl Who Knew Too Much, 1963, is probably the closest Bava came to an actually Hithcockian film - it is also credited as being the first giallo film.  Four Times That Night, 1972, an early sex comedy, is still hillarious, the first two stories especially ('Turbo hormones' will stay forever with me).  Kidnapped, 1974, feels the most contemporary of Bava's films (though I didn't catch Shock) because there are no supernatural elements and the horror arises from the conflict and tension created by a diverse criminal group high-jacking an automobile and holding the driver and occupants captive.  Gripping the whole way through.
Raven haired Linda and her school mate Linnea are studying after school, when their desires take over and they kiss and strip off their clothes. They take turns fingering and licking one another's trimmed pussies on the desks, then fuck each other to intense orgasms with colorful vibrators.