Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Question About the Title

We have a question in our mailbox today, but before I get to that, I wanted to thank everyone for their letters of congratulations and the groundswell of interest I'm seeing in various film blogs. To the editors at GreenCine Daily, to Steve Bissette at Myrant, to Jeremy Richey at The Moon in the Gutter, to the Portuguese blog that heralded the book's completion under a headline translating as "Difficult Birth" (Donna and I were touched by this), and others -- our thanks and appreciation. And now a question from a fellow blogger...

Q: Congratulations on completing your book. I apologize if my question is explained in your book, but I associate the title "All the Colors of the Dark" with Sergio Martino's film of the same name, which is why I wondered about the use of that as the title for a book on Bava. Cordially - Peter Nellhaus

A: I understand how there might be some confusion about this, Peter, so I'm glad you asked. First of all, the title of the Martino film -- TUTTI I COLORE DEL BUIO, made in 1972 -- was swiped by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi from a 1963 science fiction novel about teleportation written by Lloyd Biggle. He had read it in Italian in the pages of the sf monthly URANIA, but it was originally published in America by Doubleday as ALL THE COLORS OF DARKNESS. So this should be the correct translation of the Martino film's title. Furthermore, ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK wasn't the title of the Martino film anywhere in English until recently; it was always known as THEY'RE COMING TO GET YOU and DEMONS OF THE DEAD here in the States, and as DAY OF THE MANIAC in the UK.

Anyway, when I saw Mario Bava's films on the big screen for the first time at the first retrospective in San Francisco in 1993, it was this phrase -- "all the colors of the dark" (which someone had applied to a circulating bootleg tape of the Martino film) -- that kept ringing through my thoughts, because they were at once so fantasmagorically colorful yet also permeated with deep, hard blacks. I checked into the history of the English title and found that this exact wording actually had no legitimate place in the world, so I decided to claim the title for Bava, whose work had truly earned it.

When the Martino film came to DVD through Media Blasters (in 2004, according to Amazon.com), they put it out under the title ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK. By that time, I had already lived with my title for 10 years and I decided that I was damned well going to keep it.

My original title for the Bava book, as some may remember, was THE HAUNTED WORLDS OF MARIO BAVA. I mentioned this title often in the pages of VW -- someone told me recently that it's mentioned in our very first issue, and I know it figured prominently in my editorial for VW #5, which excerpted the book's BLACK SABBATH chapter -- and my work-in-progress lent its title to the first Bava retrospectives here in America, in San Francisco and Los Angeles. But by the time of those retrospectives, the book had outgrown this title by encompassing the two decades he spent working as a leading Italian cinematographer and also in its coverage of many non-horror assignments. So I was subconsciously ready for a title change by the time those retrospectives rolled around. A form of my original title was subsequently adopted by another book, so there would have been no going back to it even if I had wanted to do so. But I'm convinced that ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK is the right title for the book, especially after seeing how magnificently colorful Donna has made it.

Thanks for the kind words, and welcome home to Peter, whose fine film review blog Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee I am happy to recommend. -- TL

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