Sunday, 24 October 2010
I care for LAMBERTO BAVA...is that a bad thing?
This filmmaker has a massive filmography. Despite making his solo directing début relatively late - less than a decade before Italian cinema's fatal standstill - Lamberto Bava has nevertheless managed to remain consistently active in the industry till present day. Yes, he has focused mainly on TV rather than film but he hasn't retired altogether.
His filmography, besides the genuinely atmospheric MACABRE and several derivative gialli, includes a RAMBO clone and a JAWS ripoff. He has collaborated with Dario Argento, Pupi Avati, Ruggero Deodato and Michele Soavi, not to mention his legendary father Mario. Yet there don't seem to be any noticeable fan pages or articles about the man on the net. He's usually referred to as 'the son of Mario Bava' and father of Fabrizio "Roy" Bava . Nothing much about his films.Never spoke to anyone who'd admit to being a massive Lamberto Bava fan.
OK, there are people who're really into DEMONS films.
But these very people most likely loathe the director's THE OGRE (a.k.a DEMONS 3) or GRAVEYARD DISTURBANCE.
Now, is Lamberto really that boring and irrelevant?
Lamberto Bava's output could be very roughly divided into several categories:
-early assistant work on his father's films
from the 1966 sci-fi horror classic PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES onwards. Lamberto is also credited with being an assistant director on the infamous CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST but there's been some claims to the contrary. We can't just blindly trust the IMDb, can we? Well, certainly not after they have unveiled their hideous new layout...
-directorial work for the cinema
beginning with the excellent but commercially unsuccessful MACABRO and featuring such impersonal yet competent products as BLASTFIGHTER and LE FOTO DI GIOIA. DEMONS and DEMONS 2 also fall into this category. But are these Argento-produced straightforward, trashy shockers really the best Lamberto gave us?
-directorial work for TV This is what Laberto primarily has been busying himself with since the end of the 80's. The endless Fantaghiro series, Caraibi, L'Impero. -Somewhere in between film and TV are stuck a number of feature-length horror - themed films produced for Reteitalia. GRAVEYARD DISTURBANCE and THE OGRE belong to this category.
This classification is of course very approximate and is based on what little information can be found from the usual sources on the net.
Lamberto Bava's early films MACABRO and A BLADE IN THE DARK have brought me hours of viewing pleasure. They perhaps lack the bold approach which could have brought them mass popularity. Still, these are two distinct, skilfully executed works.
Yes, MACABRO is saddled with a WTF? ending(must have been the Avati touch) and the English-language version of A BLADE IN THE DARK has extremely poor dialogue and dubbing, even by standards of 80's Italian horror. Those things were hardly in Bava's control, though.
The moody, atmospheric MACABRO is a real achievement and demonstrates that Lamberto could manage decent psychological build-up in the right conditions. Shame that he wasn't able to perceive that style of filmmaking and was forced to execute whatever project came his way instead.
His editing of A BLADE IN THE DARK is top notch(and how about Battaglia's mobile camerawork - that film is one big tracking shot!).
I am curious about how does Lamberto Bava himself evaluate his films. When watching more recent stuff such as THE TORTURER, I cannot help but feel that genre cinema is nothing but a joke for Lamberto. Could he have inherited that sort of dismissive, ironic attitude towards the genre from his revered father? Or is just that Lamberto has to survive in the tough conditions of contemporary Italian film productions, survive at any cost, even if it means making obvious shit? I care to know more about Lamberto Bava. Do you?