If, like me, you are a fan of modern horror cinema and wish to know more about the roots of the genre, then this five film box-set featuring some of the key-works of pioneering Italian director Mario Bava is a good starting point.
In Bava's work the visuals play a significant role with evocative cinematography, lighting and scenery creating a singular artistic style. Gore and violence are kept to a minimum and are tame by contemporary standards, these films are characterised more by their tone and haunting sense of atmosphere.
The set starts off with "The Mask of Satan," a black and white, gothic horror classic starring the iconic Barbara Steele.
Next up is the anthology film "Black Sabbath", probably my favourite of the set, featuring Boris Karloff hamming it up to great effect. Watch out for what is surely one of the most bizarre endings in cinema!
Hitchcockian thriller "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" follows. A tense pace, arch humour and impeccable style making up for some shortcomings in the plot. Also of note is the fantastically cool theme song.
Viking mini-epic "Knives of the Avenger" is perhaps the weakest offering here, although it's enlivened by some inventive sequences (in particular the superbly-directed "bar-fight" between the two main characters).
Wrapping things up nicely is "Kill, Baby...Kill!" a superior tale of a vengeful spirit tormenting a remote rural town.
Picture-quality is reasonably good throughout with the films presented in anamorphic widescreen.
Extras are somewhat lacking, although the short introductions by Alan Jones are informative and illuminating. A documentary covering the director's career would have been a welcome addition.
Overall though, this is an excellent purchase which will reward repeat viewings.