RANKED: All 22 Mario Bava Movies

RANKED: All 22 Mario Bava Movies

Danger-DiabolikUnknowingly, I first encountered director/cameraman Mario Bava (1914–-1980) in the summer of 1999 when the Sci-Fi Channel aired the final episode of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 featuring the superhero film DANGER: DIABOLIK. In that condescending context the film didn’t really make an impact, but a few years later in college I sought out the MGM Midnight Movies edition of PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES with the knowledge that it was a major influence on Ridley Scott’s ALIEN. From frame-one I was hooked: The colors, the wild camera zooms, the fetish-y leather uniforms, the fog-drenched atmosphere, the cheesy-but-effective in-camera special effects. From that moment on I was a reprobate Bavaholic.

In the years since I slowly accrued one film after another. The double-whammy of BLACK SUNDAY and BLACK SABBATH cemented my love for his style, and I could see the obvious impact his films had on the likes of Martin Scorsese, Tim Burton, Joe Dante, John Carpenter, Dario Argento, Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn. It got to the point that I intentionally took my time seeing the last handful of Bava films because I knew, sadly, that there wouldn’t be any more after that. It wasn’t until the idea to Rank All 22 Mario Bava Movies was approved that I had the courage to finally dig my heels in and finish out the entire filmography.

trois-visages-de-la-tou-2-gWhat I found was surprising: While Bava is often pegged as a horror/thriller director, he also dipped his toes into comedy (FOUR TIMES THAT NIGHT), westerns (ROY COLT AND WINCHESTER JACK) and historical epics (ERIK THE CONQUEROR) to great success. It’s widely known that Bava was very self-conscious about never having learned English, and many producers like Roger Corman had thrown out offers for him to come work in America that he ultimately refused. If he had come to Hollywood, the maestro would certainly have made a mark and become more than simply “The Italian Hitchcock.”

As it stands, the movies he DID make continue to have pop culture aftershocks, having paved the way for both the modern slasher movie (FRIDAY THE 13TH) and the contemporary superhero film (Burton’s BATMAN), and you continue to see movies that bear his influence to this day (SHUTTER ISLAND, CRIMSON PEAK, THE NEON DEMON).

blood-and-black-lace-mario-bavaSo why rank them? For one thing, this article will be interesting for fans to debate, but it is truly aimed at Bava neophytes who may have only seen a few (or none) of the master’s movies. This list will give newbies a chance to seek out the cream of the crop of Bava’s output without wading through more minor films that may be off-putting. It also filters out flicks sometimes credited to Bava that he only directed some scenes for or finished for other directors (CALTIKI – THE IMMORTAL MONSTER, A GUNMAN CALLED NEBRASKA, THE WONDERS OF ALADDIN) as well as TV work.

So, after a brief look at places to get his movies, head down to the gallery below as we Rank All 22 Mario Bava Movies!!!



Those looking to purchase Bava classics on Blu-ray should look no further than Kino Lorber, which has released a dozen of the master’s most essential titles to the format with beautiful cover art and typically stocked with lovely transfers from 35mm negatives, alternate cuts, trailers and commentaries by Bava biographer/Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas. We’ve included Amazon links to each of these titles in the gallery for this article!

blood-and-black-laceIf you want the full-on BEST edition of any Bava film out on Blu-ray then you should absolutely check out Arrow Video’s region-free 3-disc collector’s edition of BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, which features a jaw-dropping 2K restoration from the original camera negative that literally makes the director’s carefully composed color schemes pop off the screen like never before. It also comes with a DVD version as well as a whole other disc jam-packed with extras along with a collectable 40-page booklet.

Click here to purchase BLOOD AND BLACK LACE on Blu-ray!

There’s a great DVD documentary titled MARIO BAVA: MAESTRO OF THE MACABRE narrated by Mark Kermode that you can still find used on Amazon. It features interviews with directors like John Carpenter, Tim Burton and Joe Dante as well as critics like Kim Newman and Linda Williams.

Click here to purchase MARIO BAVA: MAESTRO OF THE MACABRE on DVD!

Last but not least, if you have the means you should try to seek out Tim Lucas’s acclaimed definitive biography titled “Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark,” which was released in a very limited run and originally retailed for $300 and now goes for prices way north of that. It’s so expensive that even the author of this article -a fan of Bava for half his life- can’t afford it! Lucas spent years upon years compiling over 100 interviews and hundreds of illustrations for the tome, and it continues to be one of the most sought-after books in all of horrordom.

Click here to spend a LOT of money on MARIO BAVA: ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK!

So, without further ado, let’s get to ranking Mario Bava movies in the gallery below!

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