Monday, December 15, 2014

Mary Dawne Arden (1933 - 2014)

Best remembered as Peggy, one of the loveliest of the "sei donne" in Mario Bava's BLOOD AND BLACK LACE [Sei donne per l'assassino, 1964], actress, model and entrepreneur Mary Dawne Arden passed away Saturday, December 13, in a Brooklyn, New York hospital at the age of 79. She was one of the many people I interviewed for MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, and one of those with whom I became and remained friends.  

Mary Dawne (she insisted on never being addressed as simply Mary) was the daughter of a single mother, born in St. Louis during the the years of the Great Depression, and had to face adult responsibility early on in life. This forged her character as a hard worker, entrepreneur and self promoter. Though I liked - and, more to the point, respected - her immensely, she was one of those people who didn't seem able to ever fully relax or have a good laugh, though she was always friendly and good natured. She told me that she had never acted for money ( a good thing too, she philosophized, because she sometimes got stiffed on those Italian films come pay day), but to promote herself - quite an unusual and avant garde attitude for an actress, but Mary Dawne was, above all, a businesswoman. 

She likewise saw her successful career as a fashion model as a means of "branding herself," to use today's parlance - and she did seem proud of her accomplishments in that realm, which were indeed stunning, as she was of the fact that Federico Fellini had cast her in a role as a television hostess meant to be recurring in his JULIET OF THE SPIRITS, but which was cut from the final assembly. She asked me to keep on the lookout for other films in which she appeared and, over the years, I was able to get copies of the B&W giallo A... come Assassino (1966) and the fumetti adaptation KRIMINAL (1966) into her hands. When I asked what she thought of the films, she would dodge that uncomfortable issue by saying "Kind of a cute kid, wasn't I?" Indeed she was, a classic Grace Kelly type, and her modelling portfolio was truly stunning. But looking at those photos, at those VOGUE covers, I can always see the practical side of Mary Dawne, the good soldier and the good egg. I imagine that, as a young woman in the full bloom of her beauty, she must have been very like Peggy, who, finding herself the object of a co-worker's infatuation with her, sits him down, assures him of her friendship, and patiently copes with the problem till she can make the nutter see plain sense. 

It was during the period when we were most closely in touch that VCI announced their plan to release BLOOD AND BLACK LACE on DVD. I was hired to record an audio commentary and arranged for Mary Dawne to film a video introduction for the movie, which she was very happy to do. When I later told her that I had enjoyed the zany energy of her introduction, it seemed to confuse her, to make her worry and feel self-conscious, which was not at all my intention. She exuded such confidence that I was surprised to find a sensitivity there, not often tapped but still very present; it was one of the things about her that I found touching, which got to me. In short, I liked her tremendously - she was strong and loyal and, above all, dependable - which I remember telling her were characteristics I prized especially, since I see and value them in my wife.

When the Bava book finally came out, Mary Dawne was quite effusive about it and the lovely pictures I found of her, some of which she had never seen. As a thank-you, Donna and I presented her with a print of the color shot that opens the BLOOD AND BLACK LACE chapter, which she told me she planned to frame and hang near the entryway of her apartment. As this news reached me via a Facebook friend sharing her NEW YORK TIMES obituary this morning, Mary Dawne and I fallen out of touch for some time. I'm both sorry to know that she's gone and grateful to know that this dear and driven woman is finally at rest.

Here is a link to her NEW YORK TIMES obituary.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Almost Gone!


"It is the greatest book on film ever published. I am constantly rereading it!" says Batman/Sandman artist Kelley Jones.

And, as of today, there are only 50 copies remaining.

Available, while supplies last, from www.bavabook.com. Signed and inscribed copies available upon request.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mario at 100


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Farewell, Mater Tenebrarum


Word reaches us today of the passing of the striking Romanian actress Veronica Lazar, at the age of 75. Lazar, who settled in Rome and was married to actor Adolfo Celi (Valmont in DANGER: DIABOLIK), is perhaps the only actress to have been directed by three generations of the Bava family. She was a featured player in Dario Argento's INFERNO (pictured), playing the Nurse/Mater Tenebrarum; in this role, she was directed by Mario Bava for the final special effects reveal of her character and also by the film's credited assistant director Lamberto Bava on the days when Argento was hospitalized for hepatitis, and she more recently appeared in the "Gemelle" episode of the 2012 Italian miniseries 6 PASSI NEL GIALLO directed by Lamberto's son Fabrizio Bava. She worked again with Argento in THE STENDHAL SYNDROME, and also played Martha in Lucio Fulci's THE BEYOND. She was also a recurring cast member for Michelangelo Antonioni and Bernardo Bertolucci, appearing in IDENTIFICATION OF A WOMAN and BEYOND THE CLOUDS, as well as LAST TANGO IN PARIS, LUNA and THE SHELTERING SKY.

Friday, February 21, 2014

RIP Brigitte Skay (1940-2012)

Brigitte Skay in Mario Bava's BAY OF BLOOD (1971).

Just coming to light now: German actress Brigitte Skay passed away almost two years ago, on November 19, 2012, at the age of 62. She was a welcome, sexy presence in several Eurocult films of the 1960s and '70s, including ISABELLA - DUCHESS OF THE DEVILS, SS HELL CAMP, the Edgar Wallace krimi DIE TOTE AUS DER THEMSE, and also Mario Bava's FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT and BAY OF BLOOD. She is especially well-remembered for her brilliantly choreographed, startlingly executed death scene in the latter, which featured early gore effects by Carlo Rambaldi. Brigitte (whom Kris J. Nygaard-Gavin interviewed for MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK) was very proud of having worked with the man who created E.T. THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL and remembered that Mario advised her that she should only wear the color green.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's The Cat's Meow

Proud Bava book owner Allison Grace reports that her copy of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK provides a sturdy foundation for the electronic throne of her famous Facebook cat Mai Tai, who sits atop it for daily worship.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

By Popular Demand

MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK is now available as an eBook! With bonus interactive content! To order, visit the VIDEO WATCHDOG website here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book and Black Lace

Here's another wonderful new tribute from two satisfied readers of the Bava book: VIDEO WATCHDOG contributor Budd Wilkins and his wife Tina Taylor Wilkins! As I told Tina, they should be careful with that straight razor; it looks a little rusty and they don't want to give anyone tetanus...

Tribute from Terry and Lauran

Terry Douglas just sent in this beautifully faux-antiquated picture of Lauran Lybbert reading their copy of the Bava book.


"Back before the internet," he writes, "people read and actually collected quaint objects called 'books.' Unplug yourself from the web and embrace the tactile pleasures of this unholy tome, Mario Bava All the Colors of the Dark..."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Steve Ditko on The Bava Book

Steve Ditko, the artist best known as the co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange for Marvel Comics, has always been my favorite artist in that medium. He was the first artist whose work I came to recognize by sight. I've been a fan since before I discovered Spider-Man, when he was drawing the adventures of those transposed-from-the-screen movie monsters Konga and Gorgo for Charlton. So when my friend Mort Todd mentioned to me on Facebook a couple of weeks ago that Ditko was a Mario Bava fan, I decided then and there to make a gift to him of the Bava book, as a Thank You for all that he has given me throughout my lifetime.
I don't know why I was surprised; the evidence was always there in front of me - in the mannequin-like postures of his characters, and in the fog he drew encircling the likes of Mysterio, The Dread Dormammu and The Question.  
Today I am thrilled because my gift has been answered. 
I just received a hand-written reply (in pencil!) from Mr. Ditko, acknowledging receipt of his gift copy of MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. It reads:

Dear Tim,
Thanks for the MARIO BAVA book.
It certainly is a massive work that can only be gone through in small time periods.
As your project demonstrates, one will, at some point become aware of a new thought, experience, etc. that attracts and shapes one's thinking, direction, vision for a future goal, and one is willing to do what is needed to be done to achieve that desired end.
Regards,
Steve Ditko (signed)
Steve Ditko (printed)
I take this as a very great compliment.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Bava In Oz

Here's reader Steven Smith of Adelaide, South Australia with his copy of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK! Steven's been posting pictures of his impressive library of books related to horror, fantasy and peplum cinema on Facebook and we're proud to be part of that collection.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Bookmarked!

Kathy McCord Bennett was one of the Bava book's earliest Patrons and she has the book as well as the advance bookmark signed in silver to prove it. What's more, Kathy tells us that her book is so sturdily built, it survived an F4 tornado back in 2009 that struck her house and actually destroyed much of her furniture! Thanks for sending this picture, Kathy!

Do you have a copy of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK? Have you sent us a picture of yourself posing with your copy? As you can see on this blog, a lot of you have -- and we love to see pictures of our book travelling all around the world and settling into new homes. If you haven't done this, we'd love to see it, you with it, and where you keep it. Email directly to me at tim@videowatchdog.com.

Friday, February 01, 2013

KRI, Baby... KRI!

It's been awhile since I've posted a new picture of a happy recipient of the Bava book, but today I can share a special one. This radiant young woman is Italian novelist Cristiana Astori, who has now published two well-received gialli for the legendary Mondadori publishing company -- the originators of the Italian giallo. Those first two novels are TUTTI QUEL NERO ("All That Is Dark") and TUTTO QUEL ROSSO ("All That Is Red"), which respectively fuse the literary giallo model with inspirations taken from the filmographies of Jess Franco and Soledad Miranda, and that of Dario Argento.

Perhaps MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK can help to inspire KRI (as she signs her notes to me) to write something along similar lines within the universe of Bava? Stranger things have happened. For the moment, it makes me happy just to see the book in her hands and the glow on her face.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Surprise for Stephen

Stephen Kieswetter of Ottowa, Ontario received a nice surprise today! No birthday, no anniversary, just a totally random gift to knock his socks off! Thanks to him and his wife Stephanie for allowing us to share in the moment of presentation.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Satisfied Reader: Ted Rusoff

You may be aware that Ted Rusoff -- one of the most distinctive dubbing voices (and directors) of the Golden Age of Italian Fantasy -- is the worthy subject of a career-length feature article by John Charles appearing in the current issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG (#159). As the article states, Ted's long list of dubbing roles includes some work in Mario Bava projects, including Christian Menliff (Tony Kendall) in THE WHIP AND THE BODY and John the butler (Leopoldo Mastelloni) in Dario Argento's INFERNO; he and Bava were also personal friends and colleagues for a couple of decades. Because Ted (and his uncle, Samuel Z. Arkoff) played such a major role in Bava's career, Donna and I recently made a gift of the book to him.

"I wanted you to know how o-ver-JOYED I am to have the book!" he wrote back. "Not just to have it, but the fact that it actually got here... Thank you for the lovely inscription, Tim, and it was terrific to see a quote from Uncle Sam on the back cover! Guess which chapter I'm going to start out with tomorrow?" [Ted was aware that he is mentioned prominently in a behind-the-scenes anecdote related in the chapter on DR. GOLDFOOT & THE GIRL BOMBS.]

Ted subsequently extended the Bava book his highest personal compliment by installing its 12-pound heft on a wrought-iron bookstand he had especially made years ago for his personal, much-thumbed copy of the 1934 MERRIAM-WEBSTER DICTIONARY, which -- in evidence of his merit as a word man -- he considers "the greatest book ever published." The bookstand is, indeed, a thing of beauty.

"What a lovely man Mario was!" Ted recalls, echoing the sentiments of many who knew him. "I (and I think many many other people) still miss him a lot. He deserved your magnificent accolade, Tim. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart."

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