Saturday, February 03, 2007

Anchor Bay BAVA COLLECTION Specs

Everybody's wondering what's going to be included in Anchor Bay Entertainment's forthcoming MARIO BAVA COLLECTION, VOLUME 1 box set (due April 3). Well, I've been wondering too, but today my friends at ABE sent me an itemized list of all the contents and gave me first dibs on sharing them with you, the Video WatchBlog audience. I recorded audio commentaries for a few of these titles last December, but even I was surprised by some of the contents! Suffice to say, there's some very welcome news here, so let's get right down to it. Here's what to expect from VOLUME 1:

BLACK SABBATH / THE THREE FACES OF FEAR
1.77:1/16:9 (both)
English and Italian versions with English subtitles
Featurette: Mark Damon interview
Tim Lucas audio commentary
International & US trailers
TV Spots
Poster and Stills gallery
Mario Bava & Boris Karloff bios
Bava trailers

BLACK SUNDAY / THE MASK OF SATAN
Original Italian export English dub scored by Roberto Nicolosi
American International English dub scored by Les Baxter
1.66:1/16:9
English mono with subtitles
Tim Lucas audio commentary
International and US trailers
TV spots
Radio spots
Mario Bava & Barbara Steele bios
Bava trailers

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH / EVIL EYE
English and Italian versions with English subtitles
1.33:1 (English), 1.66:1/16:9 (Italian)
Featurette: "Remembering the Girl with John Saxon"
Tim Lucas audio commentary
International and US trailers
Poster and Still gallery
Bava trailers

KILL, BABY... KILL!
English and Italian audio with English subtitles
1.85:1/16:9
International trailer
TV Spots 1 - 3
Mario Bava bio
Bava trailers

KNIVES OF THE AVENGER
2.35:1/16:9
English and Italian audio with English subtitles
International trailer
Mario Bava bio
Bava trailers

The best and most surprising news, of course, is that ABE will be including the AIP versions of BLACK SUNDAY, BLACK SABBATH and EVIL EYE in these sets. (I actually concluded my GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH commentary by saying that I hope the English version will somehow become available someday, and encouraging listeners to ask among their friends for a copy -- so much for how "in the loop" I am!) Also good to know is that BLACK SABBATH will share the same anamorphic ratio as its Italian counterpart, making this the first time that the version featuring Boris Karloff's audio performance will be released on DVD, or in widescreen. These titles were last released on DVD by Image Entertainment back in 2000, so these new remasters should also reflect the improvements made in digital restoration over the past seven years.

The BLACK SUNDAY commentary is the same one I recorded for the out-of-print Image Entertainment release, so I assume the source material will be the same. The contents listing for the BLACK SUNDAY disc make no reference to the sidebar I wrote for the Image release about a scene exclusive to the Italian language version between Prince Vajda and Princess Katia, so perhaps it hasn't been carried over. I was expecting RABID DOGS to be part of this set, because I also recorded an audio commentary for it, so it must be coming out separately or in the second Bava box.

I'm told that I should be able to offer you a preview of the box set's cover art sometime in the coming week.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

First KILL BABY KILL Grabs

In today's mail, I was surprised and pleased to find an advance copy of Dark Sky Films' KILL BABY KILL (no punctuation on the cover). I had some involvement with this disc, and since KBK is my favorite of all Mario Bava movies, I'm feeling new-papa proud. Since I can't very well pass out cigars, I thought I would pop the disc into the old computer and treat Video WatchBlog visitors to some early screen grabs, which you can savor in anticipation of its March 27th release.

This DVD marks the belated debut of the audio commentary I originally recorded back in the summer of 2000 for an Image Entertainment release that failed to materialize. Since recording the track, I found a few minor errors in my talk that I feared would make the commentary unusable. However, after consulting my transcript, I realized that it could still be used, given some easily-made edits. So those errors are now gone, with the exception of my mispronunciation of the film's shooting location of Calcata as ""Calpata." Sorry about that, but when I interviewed Lamberto Bava about this movie, that's how he remembered the name of the village! (Mind you, this track was recorded years before most of us had heard of Google!)

As you can see, the anamorphic image looks bright and crisp, with the full frame revealed. For these grabs, I've cropped out the slight black horizontal bars at the top and bottom of the frame, but they are present on the disc, testifying to the presence of the frame in its entirety. I'm so accustomed to the crude, cheap processing of the 35mm prints made for US distribution by Europix, which gave the film an even more dreamlike atmosphere, I'll probably never get used to seeing this movie look so brilliant. There's a shot in this transfer where the Baroness Graps points to an old photograph, and the crepe-like textures on the back of actress Giovanna Galletti's hand are incredibly vivid. "Vivid," too, is the word for the colors on display; it wasn't until seeing this version that I became aware of how extensively Bava had used emerald green gels as a signal of the cast members coming into the presence of the Uncanny. By stepping through the reveal of Giacomo Rossi-Stuart's doppelgänger, I noticed that the green light that suddenly illuminates the side of his face flares up a beat or two after he turns to face the hero -- as if it was already on, waiting for a piece of cardboard to drop away, or a lighting "barndoor" to open and expose it.

Talk about all the colors of the dark: look at this amazing atmosphere...

And this shot below, which seems to exist only to present action in most copies of the film I've seen before, but which here exists to encompass an astounding diversity of color...

The disc also includes the dream-come-true featurette "Kill, Bava, Kill," in which David Gregory takes Lamberto Bava back to the film's original filming locations -- it's a nominee for next year's Rondo Award for Best DVD Extra, to be sure. There is also a trailer and a stills gallery that includes the full set of German lobby cards (in Germany, the film is known as DIE TOTEN AUGEN DES DR. DRACULA, or "The Dead Eyes of Dr. Dracula"), some extremely rare Italian fotobusti (I don't have these myself!), and other goodies. The unsigned back cover copy, I hear, was written by VW's own Richard Harland Smith.

I also contributed liner notes to this release, which I was told were going to be used. I don't know what happened, but they don't appear to be present on the disc itself nor included in paper form. That's no reason why you should go without -- as an exclusive for WatchBlog readers, I'll post them here at the time of the disc's release.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

VW Nominated for 7 Rondo Awards!

I am delighted to report that VIDEO WATCHDOG has been nominated seven times in four categories in the Fifth Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards ballot, which was unveiled today at the Rondo website and the Classic Horror Film Boards.

VW's nominations are: Best Magazine, Best Website (Video WatchBlog), Best Magazine Cover (Charlie Largent's classic King Kong for VIDEO WATCHDOG #125), and four nominations for Best Article (more than any other magazine):

"Edgar Wallace and the Paternity of KING KONG," by Tim Lucas, VIDEO WATCHDOG #126. New information about the mystery writer's role in the creation of Kong.

"Hammer and Universal: A Marriage of Monsters," by Bill Cooke, VIDEO WATCHDOG #127. In-depth examination of the Hammer Horror DVD Collection.

"In Search of Del Tenney, Auteur of Party Beach," by Tim Lucas, VIDEO WATCHDOG #127. The cult director who vanished professionally for 40 years.

"Third Dimension of Evil: The Making of AMITYVILLE 3-D," by Paul Talbot, VIDEO WATCHDOG #124. An insightful second look at a film most have forgotten; includes last interview with late Richard Fleischer.

Links to samplings of all these Best Article nominees, and to a detailed enlargement of Charlie's cover art for VW #125, can be found on the VW website home page. All of the different voting categories accept write-in votes, while others are determined by write-in votes only, including (nudge, nudge) Best Writer, Best Artist (I ask you, who has given you more great magazine covers this year than Charlie Largent?), Monster Kid of the Year, and this year's additions to the Monster Kid Hall of Fame.

So what are you waiting for? Follow those links up in the first paragraph, follow the simple voting directions, pick your favorites, and Go Rondo!