The FilmThe Bava family represents four generations of the Italian film industry. Eugenio Bava was the cinematographer on the silent version of Quo Vadis in 1912. His son, Mario, is justly celebrated for his reluctant career of gothic horrors, gialli, and any genre that came to him. His son, Lamberto, completed a long apprenticeship on his father's best films before moving into the directorial hot seat, and his son, Roy, has worked with Argento as an assistant like his father did before him.
Allegedly, when Mario saw his son's debut feature film, he stated that he could die happy because of Lamberto's achievement. Bava senior died mere weeks after the film's release and it is easy to see some of the father's pre-occupations in the decay and tragedy at the film's heart. If you consider Mario's Hatchet for the Honeymoon you will find there, like here, a lover haunted by the dead head of their partner. Although it needs to be stressed that the earlier film is certainly far less explicit than what you will discover with Macabre.
Now this represents the first fifteen minutes of Macabre, and what follows is a real indicator of how hard Italian genre film-makers had to work to excite a jaded audience back in 1980. The remainder of the film is Jane returning to her love nest from a mental hospital as she spurns handsome blind landlord Robert's advances and is provoked into further madness by her evil daughter. Oh, and a love story based on coprophilia, necrophilia, and a carefully guarded icebox.
That it's all a bit loopy is pretty obvious. Despite some good taste and restraint, the film must finally rely on scenes of its female lead frenching a decomposing noggin and a final joking twist which I won't spoil for you. The English dub adds to the nonsense with the whole cast given bad Southern accents, and Bernice Steegers shows eye popping commitment to her lunacy and succeeds in delivering some serious crazy. Best of all are some unintentionally funny moments with the blind landlord Robert whose reactions when eavesdropping on Jane's nocturnal activities are chucklesome (the best scene is where he is actually cleaning a trumpet vigorously as he listens to the moaning above - or should that be buffing the bugle, I'll let you decide).
Transfer and SoundNow there is plenty in the way of damage to this print, tears, burns and hairs and the like, but this is a very acceptable transfer. The external location scenes are of a lower grade than the studio shot sequences, yet the image always looks like film rather than pixels and it is sharp and relatively deep in its detail. Colours are well balanced and contrast is excellent, this is very nice indeed.
Discs and Special FeaturesThe Masters of Giallo release is a single layer disc and includes a featurette, a trailer and the same morphing photo slideshow of scenes from the film that you'll find on other releases from this series. The featurette is original and contains interviews with Joe Dante, and Ruggero Deodato and Lamberto himself. The latter two speak haltingly in English and are subtitled to make their comments easier to understand. Bava talks about putting the project together, Dante talks about the joy of seeing such films in fleapit cinemas, and Deodato celebrates how film-makers like himself, Fulci and Mario Bava worked across all kinds of genre when the industry was at it's height. There's nothing too novel here but it's welcome all the same. Bava also offers an introduction that plays with the movie.
The disc comes with reversible cover art like the existing Shameless releases.
SummaryA nice transfer and a guilty pleasure. The Blue Underground release contains a longer piece with the director but this release is available at a decent price from our affiliates so if you fancy a guilty pleasure you don't need to dig deep.
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