Directed by Mario Bava
Distributed by Anchor Bay
Unlike the first Mario Bava Collection (review), this second installment does not focus mainly on horror. This may be sad news for some, but taking place of the empty slots are some of Mario’s best pictures outside our genre. This time around we have four horror films, one thriller, a western and two sexy flicks:
Lisa & the Devil and House of Exorcist can be reviewed in one shot because they both share an interesting history. Telly Savalas plays the lollipop loving Devil who traps a young tourist in his mansion of sex and deception. It is a creepy tale that sometimes drags but Telly makes everything suave and smooth. The interesting thing here is that Mario was asked to reshoot this film to take advantage of The Exorcism which had just been released in America. Though Bava was not thrilled with the idea, he did take about the first quarter hour of Lisa then spliced in new footage.
The result of this experiment was House of Exorcism. While the film did mean well, it was nowhere close to the creepfest that could be found in the original Exorcist movie. Telly Savalas still retains his role as Satan and Bava’s signature gore is there, but it feels too much like a knock off to be thoroughly enjoyed. At least we get a detailed commentary track to explain why and what was changed.
Bay of Blood returns us to Mario’s classic horror roots. The story involves a hitman, his daughter, revenge and plenty of naked nastiness! The story itself is not nearly as enduring as the locations and characters the director introduces us too … and how gruesomely he kills most of them off. Think of this as Friday the 13th with hotter women and better special effects. Bay ends with a bang that could also be used as a commercial for gun control.
Author Tim Lucas returns again to the Bava Collection to spread a healthy dose of information on Bay of Blood’s commentary track. Lucas doesn’t just have a passing knowledge of Mario and his films, he is THE source of information for anything related to the late Italian Maestro. No detail is too small or unworthy of mention here, and we thank Tim kindly for keep us entertained during a second viewing of this film.
The blood just keeps flowing as we take a look at Baron Blood, a tale about an American visiting his descendants castle in Europe. This isn’t just some long lost uncle he’s digging up, it’s THE Baron Blood … a ruthless killer who’s soul has been trapped in Hell. The young foreigner makes the mistake of reciting a ritual that sets the Baron free and now he must find a way to stop the ghoul before the entire town is wiped out!
Mario Bava makes great use of the locations and scenery in this horror entry. The gore isn’t quite as horrific as in Bay of Blood but the atmosphere is far more unsettling. This is also strengthened with another insightful commentary by Tim Lucas. A still or poster gallery would have been nice for this film in addition to the audio track, but the trailer is so classic we can easily forget the lack of other extras.
Next is the thriller Kidnapped (AKA Rabid Dogs). Instead of being redundant we’ll point you in the direction of our existing review of the road trip from Hell.
That really sums it up for the films that are connected to our genre. The remaining three are still excellent film’s from one of Italy’s greatest filmmakers, but our focus is on horror. In any case, this is a great chance to own more of Mr. Bava’s films all in one spot instead of searching for VHS or individual releases. You won’t be let down.
4 out of 5
4 out of 5