Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bava Minus 27

Though the IMDb would have it otherwise, Mario Bava actually left this world twenty-seven years ago today -- on April 25, 1980. In recognition of this anniversary, I thought it appropriate to post my poem "Mario Bava," which isn't featured in the Bava book but does appear with some of my other poetry in the current issue of the Manchester-based poetry zine THE UGLY TREE:

MARIO BAVA

Where emerald and amber intersect
When clock hands overlap
Dead fingers cut the Tarot deck
As guilt drips from the taps.

Pensive women, young and old,
Trace futures in the sand
And Vikings find lost brotherhood
Tattooed on warring hands.

Arabesques of living fog
Cavort in coloured light
A bullet soothes your favorite dog
Let Grandpa kiss goodnight.

You peer through a strobing window
At a white, encroaching face
And your phonograph it slows
To sing the colours out of space.

You weep and pray and shut your ears
To wailings from the cold
That confirm in bluest gooseflesh
The tales old wives have told.

The trick is to see through the fear
And find what they have not:
He hides in the glass of an unscraped mirror
In a so-called Sch├╝fftan shot.

(c) 2006 Tim Lucas

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lamberto, Sister Elena, and the High-Res Proofs

I hate to scroll past our little photo feature so soon, but there is some more up-to-date information that needs reporting.

First of all, I was very pleased to receive an e-mail from Lamberto Bava congratulating us and expressing his interest in having Donna and me come to Italy later in the year to present the book. I don't know what "presenting" a book entails, but my arms deflate like rubber bands at the thought of all the copies of this 12-pound book we should take to Italy with us if we go, to present to various interviewees and research associates. But where there's a will, there must be a way.

My friend Daniela Catelli, who interviewed Carlo Rustichelli on my behalf and also translated many important documents for the Bava book, met Lamberto the day after our e-mail exchange while he was doing a press junket for his new film GHOST SON. She e-mailed me the day after to let me know that Lamberto told her that his aunt Elena -- Mario's older sister -- passed away after a long illness about three months ago, at the age of 95. Sister Elena, the Mother Superior of the Order of the Sacred Heart in Rome, was one of the most important interviewees for the Bava book, as you might well imagine. Back in the year 2000, I asked her grandniece Georgia if she could forward a letter to Sister Elena, in which I asked for her memories of her brother, which resulted in a lovingly compiled jackpot of reminiscences and pictures that gave me everything I needed to write the book's earliest chapters. She wrote with great, twinkling animation, full of spirit and excitement; it was obvious why her family had such great affection for her. In 2002, Lamberto told me that it was fortunate I contacted her when I did, because she was quickly succumbing to a condition that left her unable to communicate sensibly. Thanks to her, I was able to report so many valuable details about the family history, the circumstances of Mario's birth (even the name of the doctor who delivered him!), his childhood nickname, their years of working with their father at the Istituto LUCE, to name just a few things. I salute Sister Elena for her great gift to posterity.

In the days after I posted the photos of Donna and myself examining the low-res book proofs, we received two separate further shipments from Hong Kong containing the high-res proofs. Wowee wow wow. Going through these has been a much more absorbing process; I was able to page through all the low-res proofs in about three hours, but the high-res proofs held my attention for more than a minute per page -- I'm not talking about fact-checking, as we're now well past that stage, but in terms of soaking it all in, appreciating what's there. I will be posting more pictures in the days ahead to give you a better idea of what I mean.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Invasion of the Ozalids!


What could be inside this box from Hong Kong? It weighs 34 pounds!


Donna decides to find out...


It's the ozalids (low-res proofs) of the Bava book!

These are the components of the entire book -- cover, dust jacket, and the interior signatures -- shipped to us in a full color, low resolution format. We were sent two sets; we're supposed to look them over, make sure that the pages are set to be cropped correctly, that the page numbering is properly sequential, and catch any last mistakes we may want to change. Then we sign off on the pages and they go to press! (We noted with some amusement that the ozalids were dated Friday the 13th!)

What a stack! Did I really write all this?

Donna holds up the negative proof of the book's cover, as it will appear beneath the dust jacket. What you see here will be embossed in gold ink on the hardcover binding. The spectacular likeness of the Maschera del Demonio (you recognized it, didn't you?) is the work of VW's own Charlie Largent.

Photographic evidence that the Bava book will be possible to hold and read, even if you're standing up. We were so enamored of seeing even this low-res version of the dust jacket, we couldn't resist wrapping it around one of the blank books sent to us as a sample by our printer. This picture was taken as a joke, but I was truly feeling a great emotion; it was like seeing and holding this 32 year-old dream for the first time.

Donna previews one of our favorite interior spreads in the book: the opening of the chapter on HERCULES [Le fatiche di Ercole, 1958].

Here's a better look at the book's spine. See how thick it is? This proof isn't laminated or nearly as bright as the actual dust jacket will be, but I can already tell that this book is going to have the most handsome spine in my library.

A proud expectant papa.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

BLACK SUNDAY Frame Comparisons

Michael Mackenzie's fascinating, if nearly invisible, frame-to-frame comparison of the 2000 Image Entertainment and 2007 Anchor Bay Entertainment transfers of BLACK SUNDAY is now up at Whiggles.com Version 9.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fangoria.com on the Bava Box

Jennifer Morrow has reviewed THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION, VOL. 1 at Fangoria.com:
http://www.fangoria.com/ghastly_review.php?id=4061

Jennifer's enthusiastic review contains mention of a detail that made me smack my forehead in despair. Evidently my BLACK SUNDAY commentary from 2000 still contains my original closing line, hoping that my listeners will join me for KILL, BABY... KILL! Evidently Jennifer did as I suggested, or tried to, on reflex, only to discover that my commentary wasn't part of the Anchor Bay KBK disc after all. It's an unfortunate thing, something that should have been snipped off the end of the track, especially since the two films were being packaged here together.

For the record -- and for anyone who may be wondering why I provided commentary for two other films in this set but opted to provide my KBK commentary for another company -- I would have been happy to license my track to Anchor Bay and have this set be more complete. At the time Dark Sky Films approached me with their offer to provide a commentary, I was aware that ABE had licensed other Bava titles from Alfredo Leone and people at the company were hopeful of doing a Bava set, but it was all very nebulous. No one at Anchor Bay (then in the process of being acquired by Starz) could guarantee at the time that their Bava plans would be moving ahead, or even whether KBK would be among the titles on their schedule. I informed my contacts at Anchor Bay about the offer I'd received from Dark Sky, to make sure that accepting it wouldn't affect my involvement with the other titles in their set, when and if it happened, and I was assured there would be no problem. And there isn't... except I still don't know whether the Dark Sky KBK is ever coming out, or if my commentary (already seven years old) is ever going to be heard.

I hope so. The still-suppressed Dark Sky disc ( a single advance copy of which recently sold on eBay for something like $240) is an outstanding production and it has different things to offer than the Anchor Bay version has; I think the audience for these films is such that the market could actually support both versions. But, of course, I don't own the rights to the picture, so my feelings about it are bound to be somewhat more liberal.

Dave Kehr on the Bava Box

Dave Kehr in today's edition of THE NEW YORK TIMES:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/10/movies/homevideo/10dvd.html?_r=1&ref=movies&oref=slogin

A nice write-up, though I did flinch at Mr. Kehr's well-meaning description of VIDEO WATCHDOG as a "fanzine." I haven't published a fanzine since I was 15 years old.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Latest Reviews of Anchor Bay's Bava Releases

DVD Savant review by Glenn Erickson:
http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s2258dogs.html

DVD Maniacs review by Troy Howarth:
http://www.dvdmaniacs.net/Reviews/I-L/kidnapped.html

DVD Times review by John White:
http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=64567
http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=64578

Entertainment Insiders reviews by Rusty White:
http://einsiders.com/reviews/dvd/show_dvd.php?review_dvd=1076
http://einsiders.com/reviews/dvd/show_dvd.php?review_dvd=1075

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Bavasapoppin!

It's great to see so much Bava activity on the Internet this week -- not just people using their blogs to extend congratulations to Donna and me for finishing the book, but also bloggers and reviewers discussing the new Anchor Bay releases. Here are some handy links to some of the ones I've seen. If you know of others, let me know at the contact address and maybe I'll add them!

GreenCine Daily with Bava essay by Sean Axmaker: http://daily.greencine.com/archives/003499.html

Myrant: http://srbissette.com/2007/04/bava-bio-book-of-year-its-too-soon-to.html

Whiggles.com Version 9 reviews Anchor Bay's THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com

DVD Savant reviews THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION VOL. 1:
http://www.dvdtalk.com/dvdsavant/s2257bava.html

Horrordvds.com reviews THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION VOL. 1:
http://horrordvds.com/modules.php?name=Reviews&file=viewarticle&id=512

SexGoreMutants reviews THE MARIO BAVA COLLECTION VOL. 1:
http://www.sexgoremutants.co.uk/abusbavabox1.html

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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