May 31 - June 12,  2002

American Cinematheque Presents...

The Haunted World of Mario Bava

Sponsored by Image Entertainment


"Ingeniously conceived and lovingly photographed scenes of murder, mayhem and morbid sexuality… mesmerizing visions of haunted castles, rotting corpses and screaming women." - Joe Dante


(Note: Bava’s films, as with many Italian productions of the 1960’s, were generally shot MOS, without sync sound, and later dubbed for whatever country they were released in. So the dubbed English versions are just as "authentic" and original as any other versions of the films!)


Series Compiled by  Dennis Bartok with special assistance from Chris D..

Special Thanks to: Bruce Venezia, Georgette Field & Nathaniel Thompson/IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT; Joe Dante; John Kirk & Latanya Taylor/MGM-UA; Mike Thomas; Harry Guerro; David Del Valle; Harmon Kaslow/KISMET ENTERTAINMENT GROUP.

Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $8 general admission unless noted otherwise.



SCHEDULE (by series)

SCHEDULE (by date)







Sold out programs will be indicated here if sold out 24 hours in advance of screening date.

A child’s frozen hand appears at the window… an unconscious woman is violated next to a rotting skeleton... a sadist returns from the grave to torture his doomed lover... To enter the world of Italian horror and suspense master Mario Bava is to step silently through a mausoleum filled with beautiful corpses. Bava is often praised as one of the cinema’s great stylists – and his talent for exquisite cinematography and production design allowed him to commit some of the most atrocious acts of violence ever filmed. But beyond his stylistic gifts, Bava (who died in 1980) achieved a chilling poetry all his own, a lyricism that links him to Cocteau, Bu˝uel and the other great poets of the surreal and bizarre.

Born in San Remo in 1914, Bava "grew up in the midst of film, among picture frames, miniature models, and heaps of hyposulphite;" his father Eugenio was cinematographer on the silent classic QUO VADIS. By the early 40’s, the younger Bava was photographing films for Pabst and Rossellini. Bava was nearly 50 years old before he directed his first full feature, BLACK SUNDAY, a worldwide success that quickly established him as the premiere horror director of the 1960’s.

Since the Cinematheque’s first Bava retrospective in 1993, the director and his films have undergone a remarkable rediscovery by a new generation of film lovers. Many of Bava’s long-obscure delights have been released on DVD, and there are even plans underway to remake several of his classic pictures. A happy result of this renewed interest is that there are now beautiful new 35 mm. prints available of many of Bava’s films – our great thanks to producer Alfredo Leone for making a number of these new prints available for this series, including Bava’s legendary lost film KIDNAPPED (aka RABID DOGS) - !



Friday, May 31 – 7:30 PM

U.S. Theatrical Premiere – Bava’s Legendary "Lost" Film!!

KIDNAPPED (L’UOMO E IL BAMBINO aka RABID DOGS), 2002 (shot 1974), 92 min. Dir. Mario Bava. A major rediscovery in Bava’s career, the unfinished L’UOMO E IL BAMBINO sat in a Rome film vault for over 20 years, until it was finally assembled for DVD release several years ago – and now for theatrical release as KIDNAPPED by producer Alfredo Leone, featuring several new additional scenes directed by Bava’s son Lamberto, and additional music by Stelvio Cipriani! An experiment in pure, psychological terror, KIDNAPPED follows a trio of ruthless bank robbers as they hurtle around Rome’s super-highways in a stolen car with an old man and a seriously ill child. But stay alert – things are not what they seem to be in this brutally clever action thriller. (English subtitled print.) Discussion following with producer Alfredo Leone and Lamberto Bava (schedule permitting).


Saturday, June 1 – 5:00 PM

Actress Barbara Steele In Person!! New 35 mm. Print – Complete European Version!

BLACK SUNDAY (LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO), 1960, 87 min. Bava’s first full film as a director opens with a signature image: a beautiful witch spewing curses as she’s clamped into a spiked mask. Barbara Steele is fabulous in a double role as the deathless witch and her own virginal descendant. Eerie, hallucinatory – essential Bava. With John Richardson, Ivo Garrani. (English dubbed print.) Discussion following with actress Barbara Steele (schedule permitting).


Saturday, June 1 – 8:00 PM

Double Feature – Actor Mark Damon In Person!

New 35 mm. Print – Uncut European Version!

BLACK SABBATH (TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA), 1963, MGM/UA, 92 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Reportedly Bava’s favorite of his films: three minimalist tales of terror, topped by "The Wurdelak" with Boris Karloff as a ravenous Russian vampire! This is the original European version complete with a different music score, alternate introduction by Karloff, and the restored sexual implications that had been changed when the film was released here by American International. With Mark Damon, Jacqueline Pierreux. (English subtitled print.)


THE WHIP AND THE BODY (LA FRUSTA E IL CORPO), 1963, Woolner Bros., 92 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Demonic aristocrat Christopher Lee returns from the dead to whip his brother’s wife, Daliah Lavi, into a sexual ecstasy in this chilling essay on the ties that bind. Amor fou is taken to its ultimate conclusion in this deliriously romantic study in perverse psychology, our choice as the most sumptuous, atmosphere-drenched Gothic chiller from the last forty years! Widely censored at the time of its release, this may be the only surviving print in the U.S. (English dubbed print.) Discussion between films with BLACK SABBATH actor Mark Damon (schedule permitting.)


Sunday, June 2 – 5:00 PM

New 35 mm. Print! Elke Sommer and Afredo Leone In Person!

LISA AND THE DEVIL 1972, 95 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Released in a butchered form as THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM, this complete version is one of Bava’s masterworks. Tourist Elke Sommer is lured by devil Telly Savalas into a household of white lilies and rotting corpses. Elegiac and dreamlike, with Bava’s own poetic brand of morbid, melancholic lyricism. Contains "Bava’s most impressive scene of necrophilia." -- Phil Hardy, Encyclopedia of Horror. (English dubbed print.) Discussion following with actress Elke Sommer and producer Alfredo Leone (schedules permitting.)


Sunday, June 2 – 7:45 PM

Double Feature:

New 35 mm. Print!

FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON (5 BAMBOLE PER LA LUNA D’AGOSTO), 1970, 88 min. Dir. Mario Bava. A clique of idle rich gathered for a swinging weekend at an island beach house are murdered one by one in this ultra-groovy, Pop Art giallo. Soaked with a glamorously sleazy ambience and an absurd lounge music score, FIVE DOLLS emerges as one of the pinnacles of 1970’s Euro-trash cinema! Supremely entertaining. With William Berger, Edwige Fenech, Ira von Furstenberg. (English dubbed print.)

BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (SEI DONNE PER L’ASSASSINO), 1964, 88 min. Dir. Mario Bava. With Eva Bartok, Cameron Mitchell. This fiendishly simple story of models at a fashion salon being stalked by a gruesomely imaginative killer is often credited as the film that started the Italian giallo (sexy suspense thriller) craze that mushroomed in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Bava’s color palette is awesome to behold. "Seldom had the cinema seen violence portrayed with such undisguised sadistic pleasure." -- Tim Lucas, The Darkside. (English dubbed print.)


Friday, June 7 – 7:15 PM

New 35 mm. Print!

KILL, BABY, KILL (OPERAZIONE PAURA), 1966, 83 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Forget the ridiculous title – this exquisite gothic brings together many of Bava’s major themes: a murdered child who returns from the grave to exact vengeance; a village blighted by its own ignorant evil. One of the most atmospheric, effective ghost stories ever filmed. With Erica Blanc, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart. "The last great piece of suggestive horror filmmaking." -- Tim Lucas, The Darkside. (English dubbed print.)


Friday, June 7 – 9:30 PM

New 35 mm. Prints!

TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (aka BAY OF BLOOD / REAZIONE A CATENA), 1971, 84 min. Dir. Mario Bava. We tracked down the sole surviving print of this in Luxembourg for our Cinematheque’s Greatest Hits Series in ‘98 – and now there’s a brand new copy! TWITCH is the great granddaddy of slasher movies, with 13 oversexed Italians slaughtering each other in amazingly inventive ways at a remote lake. "Unreels like a macabre, ironic joke … an Elizabethan tragedy as Tex Avery might have written ." – Tim Lucas. (English dubbed print.)


BARON BLOOD (GLI ORRORI DEL CASTELLO DI NORIMBERGA), 1972, 100 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Lovely Elke Sommer is menaced by Joseph Cotten, a 400-year-old sadistic nobleman bent on restoring his youth in Bava’s gruesome, grand guignol Gothic. With Massimo Girotti, Rada Rassimov. "Ranks visually as one of Bava’s most richly atmospheric works." –Tim Lucas, The Darkside. (English dubbed print.)


Saturday, June 8 – 5:00 PM

Double Feature:

New 35 mm. Print – Actor John Saxon In Person!

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (aka THE EVIL EYE / LA RAGAZZA CHE SAPEVA TROPPO), 1963, 86 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Bava pioneered the giallo genre with this Hitchcockian suspenser about a young American chased across Rome by "the Alphabet Murderer." Features some of Bava’s most sexually complex imagery, including a young woman protected by a sinister spider’s web. Originally released in the U.S. in a much altered version as THE EVIL EYE, this is the original Director’s Cut. With Leticia Roman, John Saxon. (English subtitled print.)

ROY COLT AND WINCHESTER JACK, 1970, 90 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Gloriously silly (and impossibly rare) comic Western about the good-natured rivalry between blonde, surfer-boy bandido Winchester Jack (Brett Halsey) and darkly handsome sheriff Roy Colt (Charles Southwood), over a fortune in buried gold dust and the capricious attentions of wildly sexy prostitute Marilu Tolo (in a Cher-style fringed shirt and blouse!) (English subtitled print.) Discussion between films with actor John Saxon (THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH), schedule permitting.


Saturday, June 8 – 9:30 PM

Double Feature:

ERIK THE CONQUEROR (GLI INVASORI), 1961, 81 min. Dir. Mario Bava. One of the most underrated and rarely-screened of Bava’s films, ERIK stars the ever-reliable Cameron Mitchell as a Viking named "Iron", struggling to regain the throne that was cruelly stolen from him. Partially shot on sets left over from HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD, ERIK features some of Bava’s most poetic imagery: a king’s crimson robe spreading out like a Japanese fan; a Viking invader using arrows shot into a wall to scale an impregnable tower. Don’t miss this one – it’s not on video, and the last time we showed it was in 1996! (English dubbed print.)

HERCULES IN THE HAUNTED WORLD (ERCOLE AL CENTRO DELLA TERRA), 1961, 86 min. Bava’s glorious Cinemascope spectacle is one of his most visually ravishing films, as strongman Reg Park descends into a phantasmagorical Underworld in search of a stone that will restore his beloved’s memory. With Christopher Lee as evil Lycos, the smooth-talking, bloodthirsty necromancer out to destroy the legendary hero. (English dubbed print.)


Sunday, June 9 – 5:00 PM

Double Feature -- New 35 mm. Prints!

KNIVES OF THE AVENGER (I COLTELLI DEL VENDICATORE), 1965, 85 min. Bava’s second Viking adventure with actor Cameron Mitchell is just as wonderfully poetic as ERIK THE CONQUEROR, opening with the image of a soothsayer casting the runes on a wave-tossed beach. Remarkably serious and adult in its themes, KNIVES features Mitchell as a Viking blademaster named Rurik, who returns to confront the queen he raped years ago – and the young boy who may be his son. (English dubbed print.)

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (TERRORE NELLO SPAZIO), 1966, MGM/UA, 86 min. Dir. Mario Bava. A doomed crew of astronauts (in eye-popping black leather space-suits) is stranded on a malevolent, mist-shrouded planet. Large portions of ALIEN were cribbed from this gorgeous, atmospheric thriller. This is the restored uncut version with the original Italian score! With Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengel. (English dubbed print.)


Wednesday, June 12 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

New 35 mm. Print!

FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT (QUANTE VOLTE … QUELLA NOTTE), 1972, 83 min. Bava’s tongue-in-cheek, teasingly erotic take on RASHOMON chronicles various versions of what really happened on libertine Brett Halsey’s date with lovely firebrand Daniela Giordano. A little-known comic gem from horror expert Bava. (English subtitled print.)

SHOCK (aka BEYOND THE DOOR II), 1979, 92 min. Bava’s last feature film (co-directed with son Lamberto, uncredited) revisits themes first explored in KILL, BABY, KILL and WHIP AND THE BODY as Daria Nicolodi and child are haunted by the ghost of her first husband, drug addict Ivan Rassimov. With John Steiner. (English dubbed print.)