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Series compiled by: Chris D.
Special Thanks to: Alfredo Leone & Timothy C. Bratt/INTERNATIONAL MEDIA FILMS, INC; Emily Horn & Barry Allen/PARAMOUNT; Amy Lewin/MGM REPERTORY; Joe Dante; Eli Roth; Ernest Dickerson; Tim Lucas; RJ Gallentine; ANCHOR BAY.

 

 

SOLD OUT SCREENINGS: There will be a waiting line for Sold Out screenings. Tickets often become available at the door the night of an event.

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

 

 

All guests are subject to availability. The Cinematheque will offer a refund due to guest cancellations only IF the refund transaction is complete PRIOR to the start of the show.

Tickets available 30 days in advance. Tickets are $10 general admission unless noted otherwise.
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The American Cinematheque is a non-profit 501 (C) (3) organization.
The Film Programs of the American Cinematheque are presented at the magnificently renovated, historic 1922 Grauman's Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. Located at 6712 Hollywood Boulevard.
Photo Credit: Randall Michelson. Detail of Egyptian Theatre Ceiling.

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<<< March 13 - 23, 2008 >>>

Mario Bava: Poems of Love and Death

 

This series is an Egyptian Theatre exclusive!

Promotional support by Screamfest Horror Film Festival.  Festival details and call for entries available now!

Join the Cinematheque during our Mario Bava Tribute and take home some gruesome souvenirs of the fest! Details

blood&blacklace.jpg (38132 bytes)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, Buñuel 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 and a master of special effects. By the early 1940s, 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 1960s. Since the Cinematheque’s first Bava retrospective in 1993 and follow-up in 2002, the director and his films have undergone a remarkable rediscovery by a new generation of film lovers. There are even plans underway to remake several of his classic pictures. Also Video Watchdog’s Tim Lucas finally published his ultra-detailed magnum opus on Bava, All the Colors of the Dark. A happy result of this renewed interest is that there are now 35 mm prints available of many of Bava’s films – our great thanks to producer Alfredo Leone and associate Timothy C. Bratt for making a number of these relatively newer prints available for this series, including KILL, BABY, KILL, A BAY OF BLOOD, FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON, the Euro versions of BLACK SUNDAY and BLACK SABBATH and Bava’s legendary lost film KIDNAPPED (aka RABID DOGS)! We’ll also be featuring such seldom-screened favorites as BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, THE WHIP AND THE BODY and HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON.

 

We’re very happy to welcome actress Elke Sommer in person to the Egyptian Theatre for the double feature of LISA AND THE DEVIL and BARON BLOOD. And look for directors (and Bava fans) Joe Dante (THE HOWLING; HBO’s "Masters of Horror"), Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER; HOSTEL) and Ernest Dickerson (NEVER DIE ALONE; BONES) to introduce some of the double features! We’ll also be giving away Bava DVDs at some of the screenings as well as a copy if Tim Lucas’ 1000 + pages, gorgeously full-color-illustrated All the Colors of the Dark ! If you want to be sure to take home some DVD's or a copy of Tim's book you can join the Cinematheque during this festival.

 

 

 

Thursday, March 13 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

Uncut European Version! BLACK SUNDAY (LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO), 1960, International Media Films, 87 min. Mario 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. It’s a performance that brought her worldwide attention and a unique position as the most beautiful and seductive of horror film idols. Eerie, hallucinatory – essential Bava. With John Richardson, Ivo Garrani. "…still the number one film of the Italian Horror renaissance, startlingly original and genuinely creepy. It introduced the icon Barbara Steele to the screen and is probably her best film as well. The blend of vampire and witchcraft lore is atmospheric (all of those real crypts and broken stairs) and violent." – Glenn Erickson, DVD Savant (English dubbed print.) View Trailer ("See Satan wearing strange robes and fighting with all the furies of Hades!")

Uncut European Version! BLACK SABBATH (TRE VOLTI DELLA PAURA), 1963, International Media Films, 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, Michele Mercier, Susy Andersen, Jacqueline Pierreux. "Yes, this is the film that Ozzy Osbourne and his rock star friends took the name for their band from…the stories…stand up as compelling tales of terror in their own right, adeptly weaving the atmosphere of nightmares…a beautifully sustained exercise in scares…" – Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image (UK) (In Italian with English subtitles.) Introduction to screening by director Joe Dante (THE HOWLING; HBO’s "Masters of Horror") View Trailer

 

 

Friday, March 14 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON (5 BAMBOLE PER LA LUNA D’AGOSTO), 1970, International Media Films, 88 min. Dir. Mario Bava. A clique of the 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 by the great Piero Umiliani, FIVE DOLLS emerges as one of the pinnacles of 1970’s Euro-trash cinema! Supremely entertaining, with more of Bava’s unique imagery that seems poised on that intangible borderline between sensual dream and inescapable nightmare. 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. 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 1960s and 1970s. Bava’s cast of characters is a fascinating catalogue of beautiful but flawed women and the men in their lives – self-seeking neurotics, alcoholics, addicts, lechers and psychotics. The director’s color palette is awesome to behold. With Eva Bartok, Cameron Mitchell. "…shares with FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON and BAY OF BLOOD a crystallization of the director's worldview, where the tension between opulent surfaces and moral dislocation hint at a closer affinity with Antonioni than is usually perceived…not for nothing is his exquisite feel for design, décor, color, and movement tied to the endless cataloging of human sin, with beauty and ugliness, like desire and dread, forever leaking into one another." – Fernando F. Croce, SlantMagazine.com (English dubbed print.)

 

Saturday, March 15 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

LISA AND THE DEVIL, 1972, International Media Films, 95 min. Dir. Mario Bava. First released in the USA in an alternate edit with some different footage as THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM (to phenomenal success), this original, "director’s cut" 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. Caught in a time warp of decadent, aristocratic decay and horrifying, half-remembered memories of a fatal amour fou, Sommer tries desperately to find her way out of the nightmare. But there may be no escape. Elegiac and dreamlike, with Bava’s own poetic brand of morbid, melancholic lyricism. "Beautifully filmed and exquisitely scored by Carlo Savina…as much a dreamy art film as it is a European horror opus. Many of the images rank among Bava's best…with a strange and haunting finale that offers several levels of interpretation."Mondo-Digital.com; "…a hauntingly beautiful poem about decay and death…" -- Phil Hardy, Overlook Film Encyclopedia of Horror (English dubbed print.)

BARON BLOOD (GLI ORRORI DEL CASTELLO DI NORIMBERGA), 1972, International Media Films, 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. "…an almost Technicolor richness that encompasses a wide range of styles, from an enameled hardness that recalls the work of Douglas Sirk to a luminous, painterly vividness based on Bava’s fondness for color gels and his endlessly-churning fog machine… ultimately a heady exercise in style, with several brilliantly mounted sequences; a convincing, insistent air of horror; and some unforgettable imagery." – Gary Morris, Images Movie Journal (English dubbed print.) Introduction to screening by director Joe Dante (THE HOWLING; HBO’s "Masters of Horror") and discussion in between films with Producer Alfredo Leone. Elke Sommer will not be able to appear in person as was previously announced.

 

 

Sunday, March 16 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

KIDNAPPED (L’UOMO E IL BAMBINO, aka RABID DOGS), 2002 (shot 1974), International Media Films, 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. (In Italian with English subtitles.)

SHOCK (aka BEYOND THE DOOR II), 1979, 92 min. Mario Bava’s last feature film (co-directed with son Lamberto, uncredited) revisits themes first explored in KILL, BABY, KILL and THE WHIP AND THE BODY, as Daria Nicolodi (DEEP RED) and her child are haunted by the ghost of her first husband, a drug addict. Actor Ivan Rassimov (MAN FROM DEEP RIVER), who usually played a villain in 1970s Italian pictures, does a rare good-guy turn here as Nicolodi’s concerned doctor. With John Steiner (TENEBRE) as Nicolodi’s current, almost-never-at-home airline pilot husband. Contains some of maestro Bava’s scariest, most impressive effects. (English dubbed print.)

 

 

Thursday, March 20 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

DANGER: DIABOLIK, 1967, Paramount, 100 min. Dir. Mario Bava. "Diabolik – out for all he can take, seduce or get away with…!" Is there a groovier 1960s flick than this?! From sexy, cat-suited super-thief John Phillip Law to his gorgeous partner in crime, Marisa Mell, to Ennio Morricone’s psychedelic paradise of a score (including "Deep Deep Down," one of the greatest spy-themes ever), this is the epitome of mid-20th Century Pop Art culture. This astonishing adaptation of the notorious, super-popular Italian comic strip looked so fantastic on completion, producer Dino DeLaurentiis was flabbergasted that Bava had completed the production for less than a third of the million dollar budget. "This is a wonderful comic-book of a film…the film’s celebration of anarchic anti-authoritarianism makes it possibly one of the most entertainingly subversive films ever foisted on the public…" – Richard Scheib, The Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Review (English dubbed print)

PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (TERRORE NELLO SPAZIO), 1966, MGM Repertory, 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 inhabited by a dying race of invisible body snatchers. Large portions of ALIEN were cribbed from this gorgeous, atmospheric thriller. For the planet’s exterior, Bava reportedly had an almost bare set with only a few giant prop rocks to work with – yet through his unique ability to work cinematic magic, drawing on his arsenal of matte paintings and cutouts, his use of forced perspective, models and his extraordinary lighting, the film’s special effects create a genuine bad-dream landscape. This is the restored uncut version with the original Italian score! With Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell. (English dubbed print.) Discussion between films with actor John Philip Law (DANGER: DIABOLIK).

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 21 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

A BAY OF BLOOD (TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE, aka REAZIONE A CATENA), 1971, International Media Films, 84 min. Dir. Mario Bava. We tracked down the sole surviving print of this in Luxembourg for our Cinematheque’s Greatest Hits Series in 1998 – but now we have a much newer print that was struck in 2002. This is the great-granddaddy of slasher movies, a movie that profoundly influenced late 1970s and 1980s horror, from all the Italian gialli that came afterwards to the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise. Thirteen oversexed Italians, most of them concerned with securing the land rights to the remote, rural bay of the title, slaughter each other in amazingly inventive ways. With Claudine Auger (THUNDERBALL), Luigi Pistilli (THE GREAT SILENCE), Laura Betti (LA DOLCE VITA; HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON)."Unreels like a macabre, ironic joke…an Elizabethan tragedy as Tex Avery might have written." – Tim Lucas. (English dubbed print.)

FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT (QUANTE VOLTE … QUELLA NOTTE), 1972, International Media Films, 83 min. Director Mario Bava’s tongue-in-cheek, teasingly erotic take on Akira Kurosawa’s 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. "…a loose and breezy sex farce…Bava rises to the task quite well and brings his trademark visual skills into play for some dazzling little flourishes throughout the film…A colorful pop art feast for the eyes…"Mondo-Digital.com (English subtitled print.) Introduction by director Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER; HOSTEL 1 & 2) and actor Brett Halsey (FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT).

 

 

 

Saturday, March 22 – 7:30 PM

Double Feature:

THE WHIP AND THE BODY (LA FRUSTA E IL CORPO) 1963, 92 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Demonic aristocrat Christopher Lee returns from the dead to whip his brother’s wife, Daliah Lavi (LORD JIM; the original CASINO ROYALE), into a sexual ecstasy in this chilling essay on the ties that bind. Amour fou is taken to its ultimate conclusion in a 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. Carlo Rustichelli provided the melancholic score, rife with haunting love themes for the damned. "Lee once said that this inspired sado-masochistic fantasy is the best of his Italian films…Bava creates an uncannily sensuous atmosphere, especially when he trains his camera on Lavi, obsessively detailing her face as desire, pleasure and pain mingle in a hallucinatory erotic delirium." – Phil Hardy, Overlook Film Encyclopedia of Horror (English dubbed print.)

KILL, BABY, KILL (OPERAZIONE PAURA), 1966, International Media Films, 83 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Forget the ridiculous title – this exquisite Gothic brings together several of Bava’s major themes: a murdered child who returns from the grave to exact vengeance, and a village blighted by its own ignorant evil. One of the most atmospheric, effective ghost stories ever filmed. Another one of Bava’s efforts that was plagued with money problems, you would never know it from his use of the evocative, antiquated locations and the astonishingly superior camerawork. At times, it assumes the hypnotic complexities of an M. C. Escher drawing. Suffused from beginning to end with yet another superb Carlo Rustichelli score. With Erika Blanc, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart. "The last great piece of suggestive horror filmmaking." -- Tim Lucas, The Darkside. (English dubbed print.) Introduction by director Ernest Dickerson (BONES; NEVER DIE ALONE; "The Wire").

 

 

Sunday, March 23 – 6:00 PM

Closing Night Bava Triple Feature Blowout:

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (aka THE EVIL EYE / LA RAGAZZA CHE SAPEVA TROPPO), 1963, International Media Films, 86 min. Director Mario Bava pioneered the giallo genre with this Hitchcockian suspenser about a young American chased across Rome by "the Alphabet Murderer." Tourist Leticia Roman visits her aunt, only to have the old woman die of a heart attack on her first night there – just as the electricity goes out! In quick succession, Roman runs out into the stormy night, gets knocked down by a purse snatcher and witnesses a brutal murder. But when she awakens in the hospital, no one believes her. She is befriended by a smitten young doctor (John Saxon), who begrudgingly helps her try to find the key to the mystery. Look for Italian American actor Dante DiPaolo as the tormented reporter who may know the killer’s identity (DiPaolo later became George Clooney’s uncle by marriage to George’s aunt Rosemary). Originally released in the U.S. in a much altered version as THE EVIL EYE, this is the original Director’s Cut. (In Italian with English subtitles.)

HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (IL ROSSO SEGNO DELLA FOLLIA), 1970, 88 min. Dir. Mario Bava. Wealthy psychopath and wedding dress designer Stephen Forsyth is perfectly aware that he is crazy, and he skillfully covers his tracks as he stalks and murders potential brides before their nuptials. He’s also tormented by a childhood secret that he can’t quite remember, an overwhelming force that sucks him ever deeper into the maw of madness. His own bitter wife (Laura Betti) finally pushes him over the edge to where he can no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality. The deliciously macabre script was co-written by Spanish genre specialist Santiago Moncada (A BELL FROM HELL) and an uncredited Bava. "…one of Mario Bava's…most playful thrillers, a demented black comedy that pokes fun at the murderous psychos which were littering the European cinema screens during the late '60s…a beautifully filmed drawing room murder tale which unexpectedly leaps midstream into a bizarre and wholly original ghost story."Mondo-Digital.com (English dubbed print)

CALTIKI THE IMMORTAL MONSTER (CALTIKI - IL MOSTRO IMMORTALE), 1959, 76 min. "Slimy Glob of Doom Engulfs the World!" Signed by director Robert Hampton (a pseudonym for Riccardo Freda), who did just as he had done on the earlier I VAMPIRI – left after only a few days of filming, leaving the lion’s share of directorial chores to his good, yet unambitious friend, cinematographer Mario Bava. Although Freda had horror film chops of his own (i.e., THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK), he wanted to see Bava making his own pictures. There had been several very popular "giant globular amoeba" movies already such as THE BLOB, THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT and X THE UNKNOWN, and here Bava tackles the subject with unnerving aplomb. Bava’s opening evocation of the Mayan ruins on limited resources, conjuring the scary subterranean netherworld home of the ancient Caltiki, is a sight to behold. There are a number of grisly shocks for the time period. "…visually it's more of a bridge between film noir in the (cinematographer) John Alton mode, and the limitless imagination and ingenuity Bava would soon be applying to his own, ‘official’ movies…extremely effective, sometimes horrifying visuals, particularly Bava's gruesome makeup effects, which were without precedent in their nauseating graphicness by 1959 standards (beating Nobuo Nakagawa's gore-fest JIGOKU by a year)." – Stuart Galbraith IV, DVD Talk (English dubbed print, screened from a digital video source) NOT ON DVD Introduction to the screening by actor Dante DiPaolo (THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH). View Rare Clip In Italian!