Perhaps best known for the chiller "Black Sunday," Italian director Mario Bava was a master of atmosphere. Even when the prolific helmer's films weren't great, they were always great-looking. Eight of his genre efforts now are collected in a second box set, sure to please fans of his considerably sized cult.
Revered today for his forays into the horror genre, Bava aimed to deliver scares in such flicks as "Baron Blood" and "Lisa & The Devil," the latter of which is a bizarre occult thriller starring Telly Savalas and Elke Sommer. Also here in its Americanized version "? retitled "House of Exorcism" to ride the coattails of the then smash "The Exorcist" "? the movie is a mishmash of ideas, but at least the frog-vomiting scene is a novelty.
But honestly, it's the non-horror films here that make this six-disc set worth viewing. Aside from a spaghetti Western ("Roy Colt and Winchester Jack") and a sex comedy ("Four Times That Night"), "Kidnapped" and "Five Dolls for an August Moon" are the true gems.
The first is a crime film that begins with a deadly robbery and then spends the next 90 minutes primarily in a car, while the second is a murder mystery a la "Ten Little Indians," only with a swinging' Sixties soundtrack. Bodies keep piling up during a decadent island party, but hey, homicide never sounded so sweet!