Europa Cinema > 22:00


Mario Bava
Introduced by

Andrea Meneghelli


Saturday 24/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

[After I vampiri], in 1959, Bava, acting as cinematographer, saved an- other Galatea production, The Giant of Marathon. This time, Galatea decided to express their recognition by entrusting Bava with the role of official credited di- rector on another film… Although they included vampires in the film, Bava and his screenwriters Ennio De Concini and Mario Serandrei also drew on previously untapped original sources, including a little-known story by Gogol, Viy
In Gogol, we can already see the no- tion of the allure (in an explicitly sexual sense) of evil, but the theme of the double is only faintly alluded to. In Bava, on the other hand, there is a clear duality between good/evil, split between two dif- ferent characters (Asa/Katia). The deci- sion to have the roles of both Asia and Katia, good and evil, played by the same actress, Barbara Steele, is only the most obvious of the devices employed to create ambiguity and sow confusion…
Another means Bava uses to create a fantastic, uncertain and ambiguous world is movement, and here I am refer- ring specifically to the camera. The deci- sion to shoot in long takes lasting more than a minute and employ complicated dollies and tracking shots rather than breaking the sequence down into medi- um shots and shot/reverse shots means, first of all, that he chose to tell a fantastic story in a realist fashion… La maschera del demonio is also a film which rep- resents the fantastic and the horrific through a strong emphasis on the body, going beyond the limits of what could be represented on screen at the time and thus running into censorship problems in certain countries…
More than I vampiri, in which the horrific elements were still quite mild, La maschera del demonio is the film which gave birth to Italian horror, a genre which lasted until roughly 1966; it never achieved great box office returns but gained a (more enthusiastic) follow- ing outside of Italy. The directors who followed in Bava’s footsteps borrowed various elements from La maschera del demonio: the gothic atmosphere and a morbid tone, transforming them into an at times cartoonish necrophilia. Even if they were not always capably of creating a real sense of style, as Bava had done, they had nothing to envy in the British horror films of the period; moreover, they created an original approach to the fan- tastic, in which the demons of the mind are more dangerous than those from be- yond the grave.

Alberto Pezzotta, Mario Bava, Il Castoro, Milan 1995

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal racconto Il Vij (1835) di Nikolaj Gogol’. Scen.: Mario Bava, Marcello Coscia, Ennio De Concini, Mario Serandrei. F.: Mario Bava. M.: Mario Serandrei. Scgf.: Giorgio Giovannini. Mus.: Roberto Nicolosi. Int.: Barbara Steele (Asa/Katia), John Richardson (dottor Andrej Gorobec), Andrea Checchi (dottor Choma Kruvajan), Ivo Garrani (Nikita), Arturo Dominici (Yavutich), Enrico Olivieri (Constantino), Tino Bianchi (Ivan), Antonio Pierfederici (sacerdote), Clara Bindi (locandiera), Mario Passante (cocchiere). Prod.: Massimo De Rita, Lionello Santi per Galatea, Jolly Film. DCP. D.: 87’. Bn.