The father of Italian horror, the late Mario Bava was a flamboyant stylist who anticipated genres as popular and disreputable as the giallo (Blood and Black Lace) and the slasher movie (Twitch of the Death Nerve), yet who went largely unappreciated in his lifetime. Adapted from a Gogol short story, his gory 1960 shocker--his first credit as director, after uncredited hired-gun assignments taking over troubled shoots--creates an atmosphere as dense and foreboding as a monstrous fogbank. Owl-eyed Barbara Steele became a cult diva on the strength of her dual role as a 17th century witch and her 19th century look-alike; those who saw the movie as kids still tremble at the image of Steele's sorceress getting an iron mask nailed into her skull. The movie closes the downtown public library's month-long series of horror films, with an added treat: a taped introduction by Bava scholar Tim Lucas, the man most responsible for the director's reevaluation. The projected-DVD screening is free and open to the public.
Thu., Oct. 30, 5:30 p.m., 2008