MARIO BAVA: OPERAZIONE PAURA (Gabriele Acerbo and Roberto Pisoni, 2004; TV) **1/2
I own and had already watched another documentary about the cult horror film-maker, MARIO BAVA: MAESTRO OF THE MACABRE (2000; TV) so that, going into this one, I wondered what was the point of another look at his life and work – especially since both emerge to be no more than adequate, clearly overlapping information and interviewees! Incidentally, this is the first in my mini-marathon of Bava movies commemorating the 30th anniversary of his passing (on 27th April 1980). I do not recall the earlier effort (which had come as part of the supplements on Anchor Bay UK's edition of HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON  but is also available on Ripley Home Video's Italian disc of BLACK Sunday , which I will be getting to soon) enough to compare the two: for the record, I had originally included MAESTRO in my current schedule but, since it would fall far short of Tim Lucas' intimidatingly exhaustive biographical tome anyway (the authoritative 'voice' of "Video Watchdog", naturally, cannot fail to make an appearance here), I thought better of checking out – or re-acquainting myself with – as many of Bava's achievements as possible for the remainder of the month! Anyway, here we get a plethora of relatives, collaborators and colleagues (the latter including such ubiquitous buffs of "Euro-Cult" as Quentin Tarantino and Joe Dante – both of whom I encountered several times throughout their tenure as hosts of the Italian B-movie retrospective held during the 2004 Venice Film Festival – and even John Landis, who takes every opportunity to gleefully bad-mouth Mel Gibson's just-released THE PASSION OF THE Christ ) who attempt to delineate Bava's essential qualities as both man and maverick (not just his influence as a stylist and technical wizard, but also the ingenuity he displayed in overcoming a usually pitiful budget). However, this is done pretty much in a haphazard fashion, touching upon films at random and not even taking care to discuss his every landmark: just as the Gothic masterpiece THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963) was entirely omitted from MAESTRO (at least that is how I seem to remember it), there is no mention here of the seminal 'slasher' A BAY OF BLOOD aka TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (1971) or, for that matter, his wonderful made-for-TV swansong THE VENUS OF ILLE (1978; which also marked the directorial debut of his son Lamberto who, by the way, I have just learned was recently in Malta shooting stuff intended for the small screen)!
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