Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Shock for Daria

This watercolor is an original piece of artwork by Mario Bava in the personal collection of actress Daria Nicolodi. It was written about in this blog by Alberto Farina, in an entry dated February 27, 2011, whose text translates as follows:

"It has been over a year since I last updated this blog - due to work, laziness, and the infernal temptations of microblogging on Facebook. While I can't promise to be more prolific, I do at least aspire to do better and, as a pretext, here is a scan of an old color photocopy.

"The original belongs to Daria Nicolodi, who allowed me to photocopy I interviewed her about OPERA for MAD MOVIES. The editor Jean-Pierre Putters decided not to publish it, and I don't believe it has appeared anywhere before now. It is a caricature of Nicolodi in SHOCK, the last film Bava made for the cinema. The boy is the son of the protagonist and, in the drawing, the actress suffers simultaneously all the tortures that are inflicted upon her in the story.

"The drawing hints at a private-joke between the actress and Bava himself: according to Nicolodi, the film's producer Turi Vasile didn't consider her the ideal choice for the main character, and made tests of her trying-oout dozens of hairstyles, while Bava was willing to leave the choice to her. Eventually, Vasile requested that the actress be dubbed, considering her real voice too deep and masculine. On the original drawing, the cartoon that Nicolodi is holding is cut out on three sides, so that it opens like a flap. Lifting it, you see written inside "Mamma, I am going to dub you."


This is an allusion, of course, to the boy's threat in the film itself: "Mamma, I am going to kill you" - which means that this cartoon embodies Bava's humorous yet apologetic way of telling his star that his producer was placing him in the uncomfortable position of murdering her performance. 

Thanks to Joseph Russio (a young American cameraman of conspicuous talent) for bringing this blog entry to my attention.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

RIP Ivo Garrani (1924-2015)

RIP Italian actor Ivo Garrani, who has passed away in his sleep on March 25 at the age of 91. Garrani was best remembered for playing Prince Vajda (the father of Barbara Steele's character) in Mario Bava's BLACK SUNDAY (pictured), but he had a long history of playing compromised or corrupt noblemen in earlier films that Bava photographed, including HERCULES, ROLAND THE MIGHTY and THE GIANT OF MARATHON. He also worked with Bava on Leopoldo Trieste's CITTA DI NOTTE and the first Italian science fiction film, THE DAY THE SKY EXPLODED.

Thanks to Luca Rea's interview with Garrani for my book MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK, we know that the THE DAY THE SKY EXPLODED - though officially credited to Paolo Heusch - was in fact first proposed and covertly directed by Mario Bava, officially its cinematographer and special effects artist.

Additionally, Ivo Garrani he appeared in such films as ATOM AGE VAMPIRE, HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN and THE SLAVE, as well as Roberto Rossellini's GENERALE DELLA ROVERE, Luchino Visconti's THE LEOPARD and the Napoleon epic WATERLOO.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

RIP Ib J. Melchior (1917-2015)

A name to conjure with! Ib J. Melchior was the screenwriter of the English version of Mario Bava's PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965), as well as writer-director of THE ANGRY RED PLANET and THE TIME TRAVELERS, screenwriter of JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET, REPTILICUS and ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, and author of the source story of DEATH RACE 2000, among many other accomplishments - including the writing of an original project, SPACE FAMILY ROBINSON, a concept overridden by Irwin Allen's LOST IN SPACE series. It was announced today that he died last Friday, March 13, at his home at the grand old age of 97 - less than half a year after the passing of Cleo Baldon, his wife of many decades, last October.

The son of the great opera tenor Lauritz Melchior, and a world-renowned historian and author of several volumes of history in his own right, Ib signed just a handful of films, but they each had impact and were enough for him to assert himself in a time of great competition as one of the movies' most distinctive men of imagination (prompting the title of Robert Skotak's fine biography IB MELCHIOR - MAN OF IMAGINATION). He also wrote episodes of MEN INTO SPACE and THE OUTER LIMITS ("The Premonition").

On October 10, 1993, I had the privilege of spending a marvelous hour with Ib in his magnificent, cluttered home near the Chateau Marmont, off the Sunset Strip, interviewing him for MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. Ib had archived his own career meticulously in a series of scrapbooks, in one of which he shared with me the only letter I've seen to date written by Bava. Shortly after sending him a complimentary copy, he sent back a postcard praising the book lavishly, but he he had some disagreements with my interpretation of Bava's remarks about their working relationship on PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, which he later discussed in the 2009 book SIX CULT FILMS OF THE SIXTIES, co-authored with Skotak. I remember him laughing heartily when I produced from my handbag my long-treasured paperback of REPTILICUS for him to sign. We also talked a bit about the actress Greta Thyssen, who had appeared in the films he made with producer-director Sid Pink, who described her in his autobiography SO YOU WANT TO MAKE MOVIES as being a walking illusion, with fake hair, fake chest, etc. Ib gallantly contested this, telling me that he had dated Greta and that she was "all real."

As I'm glad I was able to express to him, he was a very important figure in 1960s science-fantasy, and I still consider THE TIME TRAVELERS - a film made entirely with theatrical and in-camera special effects - one of the few American science fiction movies that can truly be termed a triumph of the imagination. My condolences to Robert Skotak and others in my circle, whom I know have lost a dear and irreplaceable friend.

Here is something not previously shared with the public, a postcard we received from Ib shortly after he received his copy of MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. Needless to say, an honored keepsake.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

GONE!


Sorry, but - as of early this morning - our supply of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK is now completely SOLD OUT.

On this sentimental occasion, we would like to thank, once again, our original Patrons for their early support which enabled us to undertake the heavy cost of publishing such a mammoth work ourselves in the pre-Kickstarter year of 2007 - and everyone who has bought, enjoyed and endorsed the book over the years, or sent us photos or postcards commemorating their acquisition. In the 25+ year history of VIDEO WATCHDOG, the Bava book was our greatest success.

In answer to a common question, we have no plan to reprint the book - something that would be cost-prohibitive to us now. It is possible that a revised text edition will appear someday, either from us or perhaps another publisher, but it will not be the same artifact. Some text would have to be added, some text would be removed, but the wonder of the book's original layout would likely not be undertaken again. That original, panoramic experience is now obtainable only via our fully-augmented Digital Edition, available for $29.99 from our website, and viewable on all devices.

This blog will continue as a place for us to share important news relevant to Mario Bava, his films and his memory.

Speaking of which...

Available now from Odeon Entertainment in the UK, a new Blu-ray remaster of THE WHIP AND THE BODY features a newly revised, re-recorded audio commentary by Tim Lucas.

Another newly revised, re-recorded Lucas commentary will be included with Arrow Films & Video's forthcoming Blu-ray of the recent 2K restoration of BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, which will be released in both the UK and the United States this coming April. The restoration is eye-boggling; you won't want to miss it.

Furthermore, the audio commentary for Kino Lorber's forthcoming issue of both THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and its American variant EVIL EYE will feature a newly-recorded plug-in updating the information on the track.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Going...


Only 7 copies left!
And the way sales are going today, our supply might be exhausted by tomorrow!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Going...

Just to let you know, we are presently down to only 30 remaining hard copies of MARIO BAVA ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. Once these are gone, you may soon find yourself looking nostalgically back at the time when you could have had it for list price. There are already sellers online pricing it at upwards of $400. Of course, our digital edition will remain available and will be periodically updated and upgraded. But we're nearing Last Call for the Book itself, the artifact, the adventure that won the Rondo Award for Best Book, the Saturn Award for Special Achievement, the International Horror Guild Award for Non-fiction, and the Independent Publisher's Award Bronze Medal. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Giorgio Ardisson (1931 - 2014)


It saddens us to report, so soon after the passing of Mary Dawne Arden, the death of another prominent player in the films of Mario Bava. The Facebook fan page Peplum Eternity is reporting that Italian actor Giorgio Ardisson - the handsome young actor best remembered for his roles in Bava's HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (Ercole al centro della terra, 1961) and ERIK THE CONQUEROR (Gli invasori, 1961) - died on December 11, at the age of 82. Before either of these films, he had been featured in two other films in which Mario Bava played a behind-the-scenes part: Andre de Toth's MORGAN THE PIRATE (Morgan il pirato, 1960) and Giacomo Gentilomo's LAST OF THE VIKINGS (L'ultimo dei vichinghi, 1961).

Among his many other screen credits were roles in KATARSIS with Christopher Lee, Antonio Margheriti's THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH with Barbara Steele (recently released on Blu-ray by Raro Video), Albert Band's HERCULES AND THE PRINCESS OF TROY and Federico Fellini's JULIET OF THE SPIRITS. He also played Sartana in Pasquale Squitieri's DJANGO DEFIES SARTANA, opposite THE WHIP AND THE BODY'S Tony Kendall.

Owing to some unfortunate misinformation passed on to us, MARIO BAVA - ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK mistakenly reported an earlier death date for Ardissson, which we have always regretted.

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...