If there was ever a director who should’ve been part of the team behind HBO’s Tales from the Crypt it was Mario Bava. Murder, madness, and mayhem were all the rage when the show aired back in 1989 but sadly, Bava had passed nine years too soon. Kino Lorber has recently been churning out a few of his greatest hits on Blu-ray and one in particular (Hatchet for the Honeymoon part of Kino’s Redemption line) seems to have at least a few things in common with the Crypt episode Lover Come Hack to Me. There also seems to be a lot of mommy issues to deal with in Hatchet and Lisa and the Devil showing Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho influencing filmmakers more than just stateside.
The rest of the Mario Bava Collection includes Black Sunday (The Mask of Satan) – featuring witches and vampires – and a double feature disc including two versions of one film: the superior original cut of Lisa and the Devil (featuring Telly Savalas as the Devil himself) along with its awful alternate cut retitled The House of Exorcism. The latter shows how you can take a masterpiece, chop it to pieces, and dumb it down beyond words. Whatever was going through producer Alfredo Leone’s (“directing” under the name Mickey Lion) head when he decided to interject the original with an all new subplot involving demon possession and throw in some out-of-place nudity we’ll never know. He claimed they needed to have the film “make sense” but all they did was make it not only more confusing, but unwatchable as well.
All four films come mastered in high definition from 35mm elements and look pretty incredible all things considered. Black Sunday fares the best which comes as no surprise considering it’s the only black and white film. Hatchet for the Honeymoon looks really good but suffers from the same things that get in the way of Lisa and Exorcism’s transfers. Hairs, strobing, nicks and scratches, and random fuzziness rear their heads, but there are also scenes with incredible clarity that make you wonder how some of it looks so much better than the rest. All four of the films look better than they ever have and Black Sunday is a slam dunk.