Friday, July 31, 2009

Remembering Mario Bava

Mario Bava was born on July 31, 1914 in Sanremo, Italy and is remembered as one of the greatest names from the “Golden Age” of Italian horror films. Mario Bava's first ambition was to become a painter. Unable to turn out paintings at a profitable rate, he went into his father's business, working as an assistant to other Italian cinematographers like Massimo Terzano, while also offering assistance to his father who headed the special effects department at Benito Mussolini's film factory, the Instituto LUCE.
Mario became a cinematographer in his own right in 1939, shooting two short films with Roberto Rossellini. He made his feature debut in the early 1940s. Bava's camerawork was an instrumental factor in developing the screen personas of such stars of the period as Gina Lollobrigida, Steve Reeves and Aldo Fabrizi. Bava co-directed his first genre film in 1958: Le morte viene dallo spazio (The Day the Sky Exploded), the first Italian science fiction film. Because he had no earlier credited experience as a director, it was credited solely to Paolo Heusch. In 1960 he directed Black Sunday, which made a star out of Barbara Steele. His use of light and dark in black and white films is widely acclaimed along with his use of color in films such as I tre volti della paura (Black Sabbath) (1963) and La Frusta e il corpo (The Whip and the Body) (1963). His work has proved very influential: Bava directed what is called the first Italian giallo film, La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much) (1963), and his 1965 sci-fi horror Terrore nello spazio (Planet of the Vampires) was a probable influence on Alien (1979). On several of his movies, Bava was credited as John M. Old. Mario is the father of director Lamberto Bava. Mario also directed three Spaghetti Westerns “The Road to Fort Alamo” (1964), “Savage Gringo” (1966) and “Roy Colt and Winchester Jack” (1970). Mario Bava died on April 25, 1980 in Rome. Today we remember him on what would have been his 95th birthday.

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