Sunday, January 28, 2007

2007 Belongs To Mario Bava

2007 is shaping up to be the year of a great Italian director who died nearly 27 years ago and who made his final feature 30 years ago. It's hard for me to remember a time when I didn't love and admire Mario Bava and his extraordinary films. I realize that there was a moment when I didn't know of him and then I did, but that moment has long since escaped me.
I do remember the excitement back in the mid 90s when, possibly his greatest film, Lisa and The Devil made it's debut on laserdisc (paired up with his great Baron Blood). I can still remember how that large, heavy double disc platter was such a joy to hold.
Bava's films have been released sporadically on DVD since the early days of the format, one of the earliest being the rare import of his up to then unreleased Rabid Dogs (one of the crown jewels in my collection). While the discs all had certain flaws, ranging from the poor sound of Twitch of The Death Nerve to the poor quality picture of the Kill Baby Kill discs, they were all eye opening experiences. Seeing the man's work uncut and widescreen was a reminder that he truly was among the greatest of all directors. This was, after all, a man whose work inspired everyone from Fellini to Mel Gibson to 'borrow' his ideas for their films. Everyone from Scorsese to Tarantino have publicly praised him and I will always love the story of Visconti giving Kill Baby Kill a standing ovation at it's premiere.
The last few years have seen many of Bava's greatest works go out of print and a few slip into the public domain market making collecting his work for younger fans extremely difficult. This year will mark changes on that front as well a another important development in the Bava legacy.
March will bring us the long awaited Kill Baby Kill special edition. This is a major event for film fans who have suffered through countless numbers of murky public domain discs. The disc will feature a featurette and another Tim Lucas commentary, who always provides some of the most insightful commentaries around. Barring some unforeseen problem this should be one of the major discs of the year.
April will bring Anchor Bay's Volume One collection of the Mario Bava set. I don't believe final specs have been released for this but Dvdaficionado lists it as containing 5 currently out of print titles. These include Black Sunday as well as Black Sabbath. Anchor Bay has disappointed genre fans in the past couple of years with sub-par work on films like Argento's Trauma, but I have my fingers crossed that they will get Bava's discs right. I hope these aren't simple re-packaging of the early Image releases, which all needed improvement, but even if that is the case at least they will be available again.
Blue Underground will be re-releasing Bava's last feature and one of my personal favorites, Shock, at the end of February. This mostly looks to be a reissue of the earlier Anchor Bay disc but at least this underrated film will be easily available again.
I am hoping, and suspecting, that there will be more major Bava re-issues as the year progresses.
Last, but not least, on board for later this year is Tim Lucas' much anticipated Bava biography All The Colors Of The Dark. I suspect that most people who are reading this post have already pre-ordered their copy of it. Needless to say, this is the big one and I know I'm not alone when I say that this book will make my year.
I think the best way to assure more Bava re-issues is to buy the upcoming ones and let the companies know you appreciate the effort. If you have happened to have read this post and aren't familiar with the films of Mario Bava, stop reading now and search out his films. It won't take long for you to fall under the dark, seductive spell of the great one.

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