Friday, January 6, 2012

Deep Red: Bizarro Movie Night Salutes Italian Horror Cinema this Saturday!

This week's Bizarro Movie Night presentation at the Aster Coffee is boldly breaking Bizarro Movie Night tradition, with a screening of...

A good movie.

Yes, you read right; a good movie. Rest assured, though, it'll still be certifiably Bizarro.

Some of the finest, strangest, most vividly colorful, and most feverishly imaginative horror films ever made sprang forth from Italy in the last half of the twentieth century. And the most important creative figure in that country's genre output was Mario Bava.

Bava paid his dues as a special effects man and assistant director on several Italian action films and dramas throughout the 1950's. Then in 1960 he made his directorial debut with Black Sunday, an atmospheric black-and-white chiller that marked the first leading role for Barbara Steele, a raven-haired British actress whose large, expressive eyes and alien beauty made her a horror movie icon for the ages.

Three years later, Bava made Black Sabbath, a horror movie anthology in which his penchant for eye-popping primary colors and heady atmosphere came into full flower. Without really trying, Black Sabbath established several templates for the horror genre over the next two decades. It gave birth to a distinctive sub-genre known as the giallo, and bridged the gap between the elegant subtlety of the old-school Universal monster movies and the more violent and psycho-sexual content of modern horror cinema.

Throughout the 1960's, '70's, and '80's, Italian directors such as Dario Argento, Antonio Margheriti, and Lucio Fulci further pushed the boundaries of the horror film. And the ripple effects of Mario Bava's influence echo today through more extreme thrillers like Jonathan Demme's Silence of the Lambs, and within the untethered color palate of director Tim Burton (himself such an enormous Bava fan that he toyed for years with remaking Bava's Black Sunday).

We're planning on screening Black Sabbath at the Aster on Saturday. In addition to being a terrific, gloriously creepy film on its own, it's also an important milestone in the cinema of the fantastic. And with Your Schlockologist Truly on hand to introduce this masterwork, you're nuts to miss it!