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on 22 December 2013
I remember seeing this film a couple of decades ago when it was part of the moviedrome season on BBC television. I decided to purchase the dvd because I remember the film to be an intriguing study in perception and used the technique of repetition to tell the story from various viewpoints. The sharp dialogue adds a layer of humor to the subject; however, the completely unfunny interlude of the janitor running up and down the stairs (in speeded up motion, Benny Hill style) spoils what is overall quite an interestingly made film.
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on 13 June 2009
The first Bava box set was an excellent collection of the masters work, but if you already own the special editions then perhaps could be considered unnessesary. As with the first box this presents definitive discs in full uncut glory with supurb picture and sound quality, heres a rundown of the films.

Lisa and the devil/house of exorcism:
Starring telly savalas and elke sommer, a young woman stumbles upon a sinister mansion and its strange inhabitants in one of bavas most stylish, surreal and dream like pictures. The film was poorley recieved on it's origional release and later recut with added scenes to be turned into a fairly lurid exorcist rip off. Though this was pretty much trashing one of bava's artiest films House of exorcism is actually pretty fun and will probably satisfy fans of the more extreme ends of italian horror. Both versions come with commentary tracks, Tim lucas for lisa and alfred leone and elke sommer for house of exorcism.

Baron blood stars joseph cotton as the titular count in this amazing looking gothic horror that also like the previous lisa and the devil stars elke sommer. This one though slow in places is more a mood piece featuring great locations and cast, as the count goes about his murderous business. This one has a Tim Lucas commentary.

Bay of blood is legendary as one of the main inspirations for Friday 13th and much of the 80's slasher movie craze as an unidentified killer murders his way through potential heirs to a luxury beachfront property. Inspired by ten little indians this gore fest is loads of fun and quite suspensful and totally uncut. Features a tim lucas commentary.

Roy colt and winchester jack, like knives of the avenger is possibly the odd man out in this box,though well worth watching. This one is a great entry into the spaghetti western genre with brett halsey. Quite a rare film this is one horror buffs might not buy on it's own so it's good to give them the chance to catch this excellent western. Bare bones disc unfortunately.

Kidnapped/rabid dogs, is a nhilistic kidnapping thriller set almost entirely over one day in a car. Though considered 'unfinished' Rabid dogs is my favourite version, as the extra scenes shot by lamberto bava and alfredo leone don't gell for me. This is a pretty down-and-dirty nasty little crime thriller that is well worth watching. features a making of and tim lucas commentary.

5 dolls for an august moon is considered on of bava's least accomplished films but I personally think it's still a cracking giallo, starring the gorgeous edwige Fenech. Also you get sex comedy four times that night on the same disc, not one I would personally own if it had not come with the box, it's a fun movie but italian humour does not always translate well.

Overall an excellent box set worth owning if you don't have the films already. Does not look like another is due out anytime soon, so I guess Danger Diabolik will have to get bought seperately ( a strange omission from the sets!)
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on 9 July 2011
A second volume of Bava films, this time containing 7 of his later works.

Lisa and the Devil is a beautifully atmospheric and haunting film with an underlying melancholy, but this is combined with absurd, surreal flourishes which makes this a contender for Bava's best film.

Bay of Blood is a blackly comic proto-slasher with a good ensemble cast and witty dialogue. It centres around a picturesque bay full of scheming, duplicitous, and mostly unsympathetic characters. Their tangle of conflicting agendas inevitably lead to a surfeit of grand guignol blood-letting and double-crossing. It's an interesting film which, while functioning as decent genre entertainment, is also open to a fair amount of interpretation (which a quick web-search for reviews and essays will attest to).

Baron Blood is not quite in the same league as the previous films, but still has enough good elements to recommend it. Its strength lies in the way it counterpoints Bava's earlier gothic leanings with the modern world. The image of a Coke vending-machine in a gothic castle is the most direct example of this.

Comedy-western Roy Colt and Winchester Jack is frankly terrible, but at least shows the director working outside his usual genres.

5 Dolls for an August Moon shows what a great director can do with a poor script and no money.
A deeply-flawed plot, but still some great scenes and stylistic touches.

Four Times That Night is a mildly-diverting curio; a rather tame "sex-comedy" with a Rashomon-esque conceit. Again, Bava's inimitable style makes it just about worthwhile.

Last up is Rabid Dogs. An awesomely bleak, brutal thriller supplanting the director's usual panache with a stark, minimal approach. Despite being an unfinished film, (it was shutdown at the post-production stage) this is definitely one of Bava's best. Also included is Kidnapped, a version with additional scenes shot years later by Bava's son Lamberto. I have yet to view this so can't say how it compares to the original.

As with the previous set, the picture-quality is consistently good throughout.
Audio-wise, Lisa and the Devil, Bay of Blood and Baron Blood are in English while the remainder are in Italian with subtitles.
There are few supplementary extras and sadly Alan Jones doesn't contribute any introductions this time round. However, Tim Lucas supplies commentary tracks on most of the films and they are well worth checking out.

As with the previous set, this is a treasure trove of highly-imaginative and horrific delights that is not to be missed.
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on 27 July 2011
This is the second volume of Mario Bava DVD titles available from Anchor Bay. The first volume, (which I have also reviewed here on Amazon 2 years ago) had 5 movies made between 1960 and 1966. This second volume has eight titles (although you might call it seven since one is a re-edit) dating from 1970 to 1974. When Mario Bava released "Black Sunday" in 1960 he was instantly recognized as the "master of the macabre." He followed that up with a number of gothic horror hits as well as pioneering the giallo movement, later popularized by Dario Argento. He's often cited by today's directors as a major influence. This second boxset follows Mario Bava's career from his usual fare of gothic or extreme horror to ultra-modern murder mystery, kitchy 60's sex comedy, spaghetti westerns and even a good old fashioned crime drama, these eight films from the later years if "Il Maestro's" career prove that he was more than a pioneer of Italian horror cinema. While it does contain some duds, there is enough rare material and re-cut, remastered goodness to make any fan of classic 60's and 70's Italian films to get excited for such an impressive collection.

The earliest title in this set is "Five Dolls for an August Moon." It's a whodunit on a remote island. This is an example of Bava's gloss and glamour photography as well as some cool visual effects. Sadly it's a movie that suffers from nonsensical editing making it difficult to follow. But Bava fans will enjoy the colorful giallo look.

Next up is "Roy Colt & Winchester Jack," which as you might guess already is a western. This is an entertaining little tale with some sharp imagery and great humor. It doesn't rival the golden era of the spaghetti western, it's a rather uninspiring effort in comparison, but it's an entertaining piece that most should mildly enjoy.

Bava's biggest rebound comes on "Bay of Blood" or "Twitch of the Death Nerve" as it was retitled. This could be quoted as the earliest example of the slasher flick that went on to become "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th." It's one of my favorite Mario Bava movies with a high body count, some gruesome deaths, as well as perhaps his best collection of camera work, transitions and effects. It's probably the best example of Bava as a cinematographer, but there's plenty of substance in the movie too. "Bay of Blood" is a Bava horror movie that probably makes the closest connection with modern horror.

It was on "Four Times That Night" that Bava first worked with Alfredo Leone. The title suggests a risqué sex comedy. On projects like this we get to see the full extent of Bava's appreciation for color. The subject's a little more sinister though, revolving around an alleged rape and then in "Rashomon" style told from four different perspectives, this was probably the weakest film in the set. The style of comedy was old and a bit outdated, with only a few amusing scenes.

Next up was "Baron Blood." It's a Technicolor return to Bava's gothic roots. The movie is shot in an Austrian castle - Bava's previous sets were all built out of recycled studio parts. It tells the tale of an evil Baron, recalled from the grave to embark on a spree of torture and murder. The visual atmosphere is great and it makes for a great late night movie, even if the narrative is a little weak.

Alfredo Leone was getting good results from Mario Bava now on minimal budgets. So on "Lisa and the Devil" he gave the director carte blanche to make the movie he always wanted to make. It's a visually brilliant piece, a surreal dreamlike tale set in a gothic mansion. Telly Savales creates an iconic devil in the flesh figure and there are plenty of chilling settings. Fans today consider this to be Bava's finest, but unfortunately Leone couldn't sell it to global distributors. That led to Leone reshooting it as an exorcism movie and retitled it "The House of Exorcism." The reshoot is awful with added scenes looking amateurish, clearly ripping off "The Exorcist" and the new scenes are poorly edited leading to an extremely confused storyline.

Last up is a movie that Bava never completed in his life time, "Rabid Dogs." It's a botched heist crime thriller, similar in many ways to "Reservoir Dogs." Filmed almost entirely inside a moving Fiat, the movie is missing much of Bava's camera trickery but it's still a great piece of film making. Bava creates a great deal of tension and claustrophobia in his limited setting in this very intense and thrilling film. When lead actress Lea Lander managed to rescue the tapes in the 1990's it was released pretty much as Bava had left it as "Rabid Dogs".

Later Alfredo Leone (who was not an original producer) and Lamberto Bava (Mario's son and assistant director) got together and shot additional scenes under the title "Kidnapped" to assist the previously monotone setting. Both movies are available on the same disc and even though "Kidnapped" maintains the integrity of Bava's product, it's the rougher "Rabid Dogs" format which is now recognized as the cult classic.

The collection consists of six DVD's, each in thin plastic cases. "Lisa and the Devil" and "The House of Exorcism" are on the same disc as are "Rabid Dogs" and "Kidnapped." "Five Dolls for an August Moon" and "Four Times That Night" appear as flip sides on the same disc. Packaging is attractively designed, albeit in a flimsy cardboard box. It's billed as an "8 Movie" box set, although depending on your view of "The House of Exorcism" you could call it 7.

What's always valuable on a Mario Bava DVD is a Tim Lucas audio commentary. His book on the director is considered the authoritative source, and he's even credited with the English translation of "Rabid Dogs." His commentaries are thorough and insightful with a real eye for the trivial and symbolic. These commentaries are available on "Bay of Blood," "Baron Blood," "Lisa and the Devil" and "Rabid Dogs." "Kidnapped" gets a fifteen minute documentary interviewing Alfredo Leone, Lamberto Bava and Lea Lander about getting the movie produced.

Overall I would say this is a must for Italian horror fans and I think every fan should pick this up to get a glimpse of what Mario Bava could really do. Bay of Blood, Rabid Dogs and Baron Blood are worth the price alone so you could just consider the others as bonus films. This is a great collection and hopefully one day we shall see something like it for other directors down the line as well.
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on 21 September 2001
Four tales about a young man's "lucky night", each from a different person's point of view, depending on what they wanted people to know and what they actually saw. The girl tells a tale of attempted rape, the man a story of going at it like rabbits all night, the doorman makes him out to be a bender, and a neighbour relates his failed attempt. Quite well done, showing how what happened in a situation like this depends on who you ask.
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on 13 October 2016
Not a box set as advertised.
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