BOUGHT ON BLU AND DVD: like father like son

The time came to fill in gaps in my collection once again, and this time it was any titles I was missing from Mario Bava and his son Lamberto Bava. So let’s get into four from each.



Hatchet for the Honeymoon shows a very restrained, overly artistic side of Mario Bava before he chose to go for the gruesome gusto a year later with A Bay of Blood (below). There’s definitely substance here, but it’s overshadowed by the style. However, I definitely see it foreshadowing films of the 80s slasher boom like Maniac (the perspective is from that of a crazed killer) and He Knows You’re Alone (the killer’s victims are brides to be).

Our strikingly handsome psycho runs a bridal business filled with creepy mannequins and hacks up clients with a sparkly cleaver because he believes doing so will help him recall childhood trauma he blocked out. Sadly, we never see any of the kills or gore because they’re always awash in a distorted reflection in the weapon’s blade.

He burns the bodies up in his own personal incinerator and then buries them in his greenhouse. Even the arrogant rich woman he’s married to ends up as fertilizer.

This is where the film goes from slasher to supernatural. His dead wife starts haunting him, but there’s a catch—he doesn’t see her, yet everyone around him sees her and thinks it’s just…her. They don’t realize it’s a ghost! Weird movie.

One of the most disappointing aspects for me (aside from the lack of death scenes) is that there’s an opportunity to be 1970s subversive, but the film opts not to, perhaps for fear of ripping off Psycho.

Our killer at one point chases around his victim while wearing a bridal veil, and the whole concept of his kills revolves around brides, so it would have been logical for him to always dress in bridal drag to kill his female victims, but the film simply refuses to go for it. Bummer.


The eloquent and creative first kill of a countess in a wheelchair at her house as piano music plays is doubled with a second murder that makes this one of few horror films I’ve ever seen that opens with a twist.

Next, teens break into the house to party. It’s a Friday the 13th precursor as a killer with a machete hacks them up.

In fact, a couple of these deaths were recreated in Friday the 13th Part 2, so keep an eye out for them. This section is the highlight of the movie and it’s quite gory.

As if beginning a different movie, the countess’s family then descends on the house and plot to kill each other to get the inheritance. It’s an asinine kill or be killed situation in which everyone is a murderer and everyone is a victim.

I haven’t seen shit this pointless since that dumb ass season of Slasher in which all those despicable rich people play death games knowing their own relatives are going to die, yet get all emotional when a killer starts picking them off one by one instead.

The only interesting elements of all this literal backstabbing is a witchy woman who lives next door, a nasty scene involving an octopus, and a body reveal moment featuring all the dead kids from the first part of the movie.


This kind of feels like Mario Bava’s attempt to cash in on the success of all the Hammer Films. I didn’t hate it, although I could have done without the terrible seventies muzak that serves as the score.

A young man exploring his family roots comes to a castle that belonged to his sadistic Baron ancestor, who was cursed by a witch. The young man does an incantation that is supposed to resurrect the Baron, and it works!

The Baron crawls from his grave looking all decayed, and for a while this feels like a slasher. Yay! As for the lurking Baron, he kind of gives off a Mr. Hyde vibe.

Eventually it’s up to the young man to send him back to the grave. The final act definitely has that Hammer Films horror melodrama vibe, and there’s a twist concerning the Baron that is rather predictable. Ramping up the horror, some zombies are tossed in at the end.

LISA AND THE DEVIL (aka: House of Exorcism) (1974)

This is an intriguing case of a Mario Bava movie that was “revised” and retitled in the wake of the popularity of The Exorcist. If I’m reading the original cut right, it is essentially way ahead of its time, serving as a template for that streak of films like ten years ago that were all about groups of people unable to escape a location, not realizing they’re actually dead and trapped in hell or purgatory. Problem is this movie gets so lost in its twists and turns that the strength of the main premise is obliterated.

Lisa is touring Spain when she sees a mural of the devil…who looks exactly like Telly Savalas.

She then sees Telly buying a realistic looking male mannequin in a store. She then ends up staying the night at a house in which Telly Savalas is the butler.

The house is owned by a handsome man and his creepy mother. Lisa is haunted by a real version of Savalas’s mannequin, the son seems to speak to a ghost, and Lisa soon learns she looks just like his ex-girlfriend…

As things get increasingly weirder, there’s a chain of people killing each other, giving me flashbacks to the loathsome family in A Bay Of Blood. This kind of murder and mayhem plot does absolutely nothing for me. Give me one psycho killer in a mask and a whole bunch of victims and I’m good. It’s just no fun when everyone is bad.

Speaking of victims, at least this film has a good old body reveal party near the end. But I guess the most intriguing aspect is the purpose of Savalas’s mannequin and the way Lisa just can’t seem to escape it.

So how does the House of Exorcism cut from 1975 differ? It’s like they took two different movies and alternated back and forth in showing clips from each. In the process, they gutted so much of the plot of Lisa and the Devil that the scenes used make absolutely no sense.

The actress playing Lisa was simply called back to film a bunch of scenes of her lying in bed in possessed mode, cursing up a storm and spitting green pea soup at a priest. More than Linda Blair in The Exorcist, she reminds me of Juliet Mills in Beyond the Door. She does do some pretty wild physical work with her body that neither of her predecessors did, though. She also morphs into a naked woman the priest knew at some point in a poor effort to give him a backstory, and she seems to either eat or spit out frogs.

Anyway, after we meet Lisa in the opening scene and she runs into Savalas and his mannequin, she now passes out in the street, and her friend and a priest (both newly written into the movie) take her to a hospital. So begin all the exorcism scenes in between clips from the original movie, with the crazed, demonic Lisa supposedly still having the wherewithal to recount what she went through while staying at a house with a crazy dude, his mother, and Telly Savalas.

In the end, I have no idea what story she’s trying to tell or how it’s supposed to have led to her possession.


MIDNIGHT KILLER (aka: You’ll Die at Midnight) (1986)

In between making Demons movies in the mid-80s, Lamberto Bava moved away from his gorefests and mostly towards Italian giallos/80s slasher hybrids.

Midnight Killer is a perfect example, with giallo sensibilities, from the stylish kill scenes to a detective on a complex case, and pacing and chase scenes that give off some exciting 80s slasher vibes.

After an officer of the law has a vicious fight with his wife and then she is brutally murdered in the shower, he becomes the prime suspect in a series of murders. However, his psychologist begins to suspect that the murderer is actually a deceased serial killer!

There are several alluring death scenes of women targeted in unique locations, like an abandoned amphitheater and a clothes store, and what’s really creepy is that the psychologist and some of the people she’s close to catch sight of the dead serial killer’s face. Eek!

There’s a totally 80s moment when a guy spies on a girl doing aerobics in her best 80s exercise attire, a bogus death sequence that turns out to be a dream (why not just actually kill another person?), and the highlight of the film, several girls getting trapped in an empty hotel as the killer hunts them down in the final act.

Best of all, this killer doesn’t do the slow walk…there’s some major running going on. Yikes!

Strike that. Actual best of all? The girl who takes on the killer with an electric mixer.


Movies about a killer gathering pieces of people to create a full body were all the rage in the 80s and early 90s. However, by adding a giallo vibe, which means numerous confusing twists along the way, Lamberto Bava definitely injects some intrigue into what would otherwise just be a basic slasher.

A mad pianist goes around killing people to harvest the transplants they’ve received so he can put back together the person from which the parts came. Fantastic.

Meanwhile, he’s terrifying a widow, played by Joanna Pacula (Virus, The Kiss). He digs up her husband’s grave and takes the remains. He sneaks into her home and leaves body parts. And in true giallo fashion, he peeps through windows as she walks around a mansion that looks like a work of modern art while wearing a flowing nightgown.

It being the early 90s, the detective on the case becomes romantically involved with the widow.

But let’s get to the good stuff. In the English dubbed version, the death scenes are set to the classical music piece “Night on Bald Mountain” (the ominous composition used during the Devil segment of Fantasia).

Stand out moments include a fucked up scene of a teacher being killed right in front of her class of blind students, a pool scene that feels like Jaws with a knife, an almost comical tug-of-war between the killer and the detective with a woman stuck on a gurney trapped in elevator doors, a body in a freezer scene with an illogical but awesome pay-off, and a hilariously sped up car chase.

The twists concerning the killer’s identity are what really make Body Puzzle stand out from the usual body part collector slasher, and there’s even a gay subplot!


This one gets written off as Lamberto Bava’s desperate attempt to keep up with the times by going the torture porn route.

It feels like two different movies melded together because the main storyline is interspersed with gratuitous torture scenes, totally done in that sea green Saw tint, showing graphic depictions of women being mutilated (there’s a particularly nasty nipple scene). Despite feeling cheap and low budget, it’s much nastier than sleek, polished, Hollywood torture horror of the time.

The plot concerns a young woman who goes on an audition for an underground director, sleeps with him, discovers her missing friend’s earring during that encounter, and decides to sneak back into his house to find out what’s really going on.

If you pay attention, this is actually a commentary on the entire torture porn subgenre, making a statement about what kind of person you have to be to go as far as some directors do in presenting torture in their films.

GHOST SON (2007)

While this is a tame take on horror for a Lamberto Bava film, it has one icky fricking plot.

A straight couple living in Africa has a wonderful, loving relationship. Then he dies in a car accident and for no apparent reason returns as a sadistic incubus who just wants to hurt his wife. It makes no sense.

But what makes this movie worse? The wife seems to get pregnant after a sex session with the ghost and gives birth to a baby, which appears to be possessed by her husband.

It’s like Rosemary’s Baby with a sex drive. I really was dumbfounded by what I was watching. The baby sucks viciously on its mom’s tit while feeding, drawing blood.

Every time the wife has an encounter with her husband after that, the sex partner appears first as the baby then morphs into the husband. This includes a sex scene in the shower that begins with the baby’s hand feeling up the mom’s tit. WTF?

All this weird sexualization of a baby aside, the only part that gave me a chuckle was when the baby went full Linda Blair and projectile vomited all over the mother.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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