The devil makes you do the darnest things! In Mario Bava’s gaudy gothic masterpiece “Operazione Paura,” from 1966, she – in the guise of a very pale and very creepy blond girl – makes you want to kill yourself … by jumping onto a spiked fence, by walking into sharp metal stakes, … or cutting your own throat with a scythe. “Operazione Paura” – along with a world-premiere screening of 15-minutes from Iva Zuccon’s upcoming “Wrath of the Crows” – brought Seravezza’s horror festival – named after the Bava classic – to its stylish and gory end, last Sunday evening.
The rain and (the appropriately eerie) thunderstorms punctuated the four-day fest, perhaps contributing to the smaller-than-expected crowds attending the newby horror event. But by the sheer amount of blood spilled we offer heartfelt praise to the brave folks at B-side who produced – and got crowd-funding to stage the bloodbath.
The four-day festival brought seminal masterpieces of Italian Horror together with work by Zuccon, Sacchetti and Visani, the next-generation of Italian horror auteurs, to the Renaissance Palazzo Mediceo in the tiny riverside town of Seravezza. Zuccon’s “Wrath of the Crows” was met with enthusiastic shivers – there’s talk that the completed film, due to be released in the States this year – may make an appearance at next year’s fest. We link to trailers and sites for the above-mentioned in the previous posts from the last few days – and we link again here to the Festival website.
After the jump we post the complete “Kill, Baby, Kill!” the English-language version of Bava’s classic “Operazione Paura.”
(The Special Edition DVD release – with supposedly better image quality is currently not available on ebay or amazon.)
The movie is a grand and gory spectacle – set in a Carpathian village haunted by an evil witch’s murderous lust for revenge. It’s high gothic drama from the surreal opening shot, where a woman runs out of a haunted-looking old house screaming, then, apparently for no reason at all, throws herself onto the jagged spikes of an old iron gate.
That, and then a short meditation on “the ‘very pale and very creepy blond girl’ metaphor for the devil” in this and other films.
And while we have a peculiar fascination with our only friend, “The End” – we are so looking forward to“Operazione Paura” next year…
… shall we say, to ITS RETURN FROM THE GRAVE?!?!
The above is the English-language version of Mario Bava’s “Operazione Paura” … known in the States by its rather campy English title “Kill, Baby, Kill!”
Not as well-loved as Bava’s debut Masterwork, “La Maschera del Demonio” (known in English as “Black Sunday” – which we posted complete in the previous days’ posts) this 1966 production, with its gothic pathos, moody colors and over-the-top plot twists deserves a viewing – or two.
It’s the women in the film, though, that propel the story forward to its inevitable end – Erika Blanc is on-point-perfect as our distressed heroine but it is the fabulous Fabienne Dali – beautiful and cool – who sets fire to the screen.
We link to a Mario Bava fansite here for more info on the Master’s life and influence.
Some musings on the strange archetype of the “Creepy Little Girl as Evil Incarnate” in film.
We turn here – briefly – to one of the strange phenomena of sixties horror movies, and film in general.
As we mentioned above, in Mario Bava’s 1966 “Kill, Baby, Kill!” women play center stage in the atmospheric drama, yet the evil archetype of the Creepy Little Girl – actually played here by a boy – provokes most of the carnage – by just staring at her victims… then laughing wildly.
Fellini also used the archetype in his “Toby Dammit” segment – his “liberal” adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story (which we posted about previously and linked-to from youtube.) She also plays with a ball and smirks maniacally in the film:
And the most famous “Creepy Little Girl” of all, no doubt is Linda Blair from “The Exorcist.”
Glenn Kenny in his often interesting blog on cinema quotes Scorsese in his piece called “The Devil is a Woman:” “Of course a little girl has appeared as the Devil before, in Mario Bava’s Kill Baby Kill, and again in Fellini’s Toby Dammit, where she plays with the ball, but our girl is older, she’s 13″ … referring to the devil who does the tempting, in his “Last Temptation:”
There are others who come to mind… this list is not, in any way exhaustive… feel free to add your favorite “Creepy Little Girl” in the comments below.
Kubrick used children in strange ways in his movies… with some going as far as saying that he was speaking elliptically – through his work – about the unhealthy love some feel for children; his 1962 Lolita is a rather less indirect reference, and precedes both the Bava and the Fellini versions:
And of course when speaking of Kubrick… we mention the Twins from “The Shining:” Very creepy indeed… but their “ball” was not white…
rather it was…
an errant Tennis ball.
The archetype made multitude. The children from “The Village of the Damned.”
But there are more who employed the archetype …
For example the ambivalent “Creepy Little Girl” from “Return to Oz:”
… which brings to mind – from the original – Dorothy… not creepy, but definitely a catalyst for upheaval in Oz:
And this post marks the end of our coverage of “Operazione Paura” Horror Festival in Seravezza. We are looking forward to its … revival, next year (we close this post with “The End” title from Mario Bava’s “La Maschera del Demonio” – aka “Black Sunday.” )
Ciao, baby, ciao!