Category Archives: Mario Bava

February 1975.

While researching something completely unrelated, I came across this ad for a double feature of Hercules (1958) and Hercules Unchained (1959) playing a number of theaters in New York in February 1975, including the UA Rivoli, which was one of the only Dimension 150 houses around.

Seeing those great Steve Reeves peplum films, shot by Mario Bava in ‘Scope, on that deep curved Dimension 150 screen must’ve really been something.

By the way, the Rivoli ran Jaws that summer, which would’ve been cool on that curved screen.

9 Comments

Filed under 1958, 1959, Avco Embassy, Mario Bava, Peplum, Steve Reeves

Blu-Ray Review: Hercules And The Captive Women (1963).

Directed by Vittorio Cottafavi
Produced by Achille Piazzi
Executive Supervision: Hugo Grimaldi
Cinematography: Carlo Carlini
Music Supervision (US Version): Gordon Zahler, General Music Corp.
Title Design (US Version): Filmation Associates

Cast: Reg Park (Hercules), Fay Spain (Queen Antinea), Ettore Manni (Androclo, Re di Tebe), Luciano Marin (Illo), Laura Efrikian (Ismene), Maurizio Coffarelli (Proteus, The Monster), Leon Selznick (Narrator, US Version)

__________

Let’s not take for granted the fact that Blu-Ray technology has become prevalent enough that niche genre films like Hercules And The Captive Women (1963) are getting the kind of deluxe treatment usually given to pictures widely acknowledged as “classics.” As someone who seems to only watch movies that fall into some kind of goofy niche, I’m so thankful to the companies putting these things out.

That makes reviewing something like The Film Detective’s new Blu-Ray of Hercules And The Captive Women a bit odd, since I’m overjoyed by the thing before I even know what it looks like. With that out of the way, lets get to it.

Hercules And The Captive Women was released in Italy in 1961 as Ercole alla conquista di Atlantide, which translates to “Hercules At The Conquest Of Atlantis.” Shot in Technicolor and Technirama, it was Reg Park’s first time as Hercules. The picture played in the UK as Hercules Conquers Atlantis.

In 1963, The Woolner Bros. brought it to the States. They re-cut it, re-dubbed it, replaced the score, gave it the title Hercules And The Captive Women and opened it with new animated credits from Filmation. This is the version The Film Detective has brought to Blu-Ray, and it’s beautiful.

This time around, Hercules takes on Antinea, the Queen of Atlantis (Fay Spain), who’s planning on taking over the world with an army of odd-looking blond warriors. Along the way, there are all kinds of fights, plenty of posing and posturing and lots of crazy dialogue — you know, the stuff that makes these peplum movies what they are.

Hercules And The Captive Women one was one of my favorite peplums as a kid, thanks largely to the lizard monster Hercules (Reg Park) takes on. Fay Spain appeared in everything from Dragstrip Girl (1957) to The Godfather Part II (1974). I liked Park’s next one, Mario Bava’s Hercules In The Haunted World (1961), even better. This was probably the peak for peplum.

Thanks to the Technicolor and Technirama, Hercules And The Captive Women has a bigger, lusher feel than the rest of these things, which is where The Film Detective’s really pays off. The transfer — a 4K Restoration from the original 35mm camera negative — is as sharp as a tack. Sharpness and deep focus were the key benefits of Technirama, surely one of the best of the many film processes to turn up in the 50s. The audio here is, well, it is what it is. The dubbing and effects are as wonky as you remember, but quite a bit cleaner and clearer. You might recognize a music cue from Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) — it’s also in Bend Of The River (1952) and King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962).

There’s a mighty batch of extras: a commentary by Tim Lucas, a nice booklet with notes from C. Courtney Joyner, a documentary on peplums, Hercules And The Conquest Of Cinema, and MST3K’s take on the film. This is a really nice package. The Film Detective is a company to keep an eye on — they’re really on a roll these days. Highly recommended.

3 Comments

Filed under 1963, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Fay Spain, Mario Bava, Peplum, Reg Park, The Film Detective, Woolner Brothers

A Night At The Movies: Halloween – Illinois, 1967.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1959, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967, A Night At The Movies, AIP, Boris Karloff, Dick Miller, Herman Cohen, Jack Nicholson, Mario Bava, Michael Gough, Roger Corman

RIP, Ennio Morricone.

Ennio Morricone
(November 10. 1928 – July 6, 2020)

The great composer Ennio Morricone has passed away at 91. Among his many terrific scores was the one for Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966).

Without his music, would spaghetti Westerns have been as impactful as they were?

His work that comes to mind with this news is Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1967).

4 Comments

Filed under 1966, Clint Eastwood, Ennio Morricone, John Phillip Law, Lee Van Cleef, Mario Bava, Sergio Leone, Spaghetti Westerns

Blu-Ray News #278 – Danger: Diabolik (1968).

Directed by Mario Bava
Starring John Phillip Law, Marisa Mell, Michel Piccoli, Adolfo Celi, Claudio Gora

You can have all 57 Avengers movies and those new Batman and Joker things. Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1968) is the best comic book movie ever made. And it’s a Blu-Ray folks (including me) have been screaming for for years.

Shout Factory is bringing Danger: Diabolik to high definition in May — and at this time, the specs haven’t been announced. There’s been some controversy over the years about the two different English dubs, so it’ll be interesting to see what they wind up with. But one thing’s for sure, Bava’s incredible use of color and whacked-out camera angles, along with Ennio Morricone’s fuzzed-out score, will be well-served on Blu-Ray. Highly, highly recommended.

Why take my word for it? A more qualified movie expert, Glen Erickson of CinemaSavant, is just as nuts over this thing as I am.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1968, DVD/Blu-ray News, Ennio Morricone, John Phillip Law, Mario Bava, Marisa Mell, Paramount, Shout/Scream Factory

Happy Birthday, Boris Karloff.

Boris Karloff (William Henry Pratt)
(23 November 1887 – 2 February 1969)

Here’s a perfect way to celebrate the great Boris Karloff — stay up all night watching a slew of his movies.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1963, AIP, Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Dick Miller, Hazel Court, Jack Nicholson, Jacques Tourneur, Joyce Jameson, Les Baxter, Mario Bava, Nick Adams, Peter Lorre, Richard Matheson, Roger Corman, Vincent Price

Blu-Ray News #263: Goliath And The Vampires (1961).

Directed by Sergio Corbucci & Giacomo Gentilomo
Starring Gordon Scott, Gianna Maria Canale, Jacques Sernas, Leonora Ruffo, Annabella Incontrera, Mario Feliciani

After their terrific Blu-Ray of Mario Bava’s Hercules In The Haunted World (1961), I was hoping Kino Lorber would keep the peplum coming. Well, with Goliath And The Vampires (1961) coming in early 2020, there’s at least one more in the works. This one has Gordon Scott as Goliath and was co-directed by Sergio Corbucci (there’s some debate about how much input he actually had). Dino De Laurentiis is credited as executive producer — I think it’s the only one of these pictures he did.

AIP released it here in the States, but didn’t get around to it until 1964. Reynold Brown’s poster art was typically beautiful. Like Hercules In The Haunted World, Goliath And The Vampires stirs a little Gothic horror into the usual peplum stew, which I always appreciate.

These movies looked like crap when I saw them on TV in the late 70s and early 80s — usually faded color and always a brutal pan-and-scan job on the ‘Scope camerawork. Can’t wait to see this one looking like it should. Recommended.

3 Comments

Filed under 1961, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Gordon Scott, Kino Lorber, Mario Bava, Peplum, Reynold Brown, Sergio Corbucci

Blu-Ray News #249: Hercules In The Haunted World (1961).

Directed by Mario Bava
Starring Reg Park, Christopher Lee, Leonora Ruffo

Nobody can elevate a cheap movie quite like Mario Bava, and for my money, his Hercules In The Haunted World (1961) is the best of the peplum movies. And Kino Lorber is elevating the whole thing with this two-disc set — you get the European, the UK and the US versions (three, count em!), restored from the camera negative. There’s a commentary from Tim Lucas, an interview and trailers. And it’s all coming in October. Can’t wait.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1961, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Mario Bava, Peplum, Reg Park

Blu-Ray News #191: Blood And Black Lace (1964).

Directed by Mario Bava
Starring Cameron Mitchell, Eva Bartok, Paul Frees, 30 of the most glamorous girls in the world

VCI is bringing Mario Bava’s Blood And Black Lace (1964) to Blu-Ray here in the States with a slew of extras, some of them carried over from VCI’s previous DVD.

This picture is worthwhile for Bava’s use of color alone. Then consider that the whole thing was done for about $150,000. It’s really incredible.

This is one of the great Paul Frees’ finest hours, as he provided most of the male voices for the English-dubbed version.

Coming in October. Highly recommended.

1 Comment

Filed under 1964, DVD/Blu-ray News, Mario Bava, VCI

DVD/Blu-ray News #5: Planet Of The Vampires (Terrore Nello Spazio).

Planet of vampires HS sized

Directed by Mario Bava
Starring Barry Sullivan, Norma Bengell, Ángel Aranda, Evi Marandi

Halloween’s always a great time of year for video-collecting horror and science fiction fans. This year is no exception. Added to a release roster that already includes The Legend Of Hell House (1973) comes Mario Bava’s supremely creepy sci-fi movie Planet Of The Vampires (1965), on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.

Planet-of-the-Vampires-zombie-alien-vampire

Italian science fiction films, to me anyway, never seem to make any sense. Ever see Wild Wild Planet (1965)? This one, written by Ib Melchior, has a bit more going for it than most, script-wise. But it’s always Bava’s visuals we’re concerned about, and Planet Of The Vampires doesn’t disappoint. This thing’s got enough style and atmosphere (and fog) for 20 movies (and oddly enough, no vampires). I see a lot of this film’s influence in Alien (1979), with a heavy dose of It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1957) thrown in.

VHS copies in the Eighties replaced the original score with some dreadful synthesizer stuff. The MGM DVD restored the original music featured in the Italian and AIP versions. Can’t wait to see what Kino Lorber offers up. Highly recommended.

Don’t you love that Reynold Brown poster art?

2 Comments

Filed under AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kino Lorber, Mario Bava, Reynold Brown