Diving into a Mario Bava double feature from a Jean Rollins double feature, you’re going to be treated to something more than just gore and nudity. Not that there’s anything wrong with that when it comes to horror — it’s what most audience’s expect. But for the rest of us, Bava makes sure that we get a little more bang for our buck, and not just bangs. Kino Classics keeps cranking out their “Mario Bava Collection” at an incredible rate. And they’re not slowing down, with the Blu-ray releases of 1963’s Black Sabbath and 1974’s seemingly lost Kidnapped (aka Rabid Dogs).
Black Sabbath represents the Bava most are familiar with, but with Kidnapped, Bava was obviously out to make something far different. Most of his films relish gothic horror-style camera angles and color, as in Sabbath. Kidnapped is a whole different beast, about two hostages — Riccardo (Riccardo Cucciolla) and Maria (Lea Lander) — kidnapped by a trio of robbers. Now Doc (Maurice Poli), Blade (Don Backy), and “32” (George Eastman) must keep Riccardo and Maria from doing anything dangerous while they make it to their safe house.
In Black Sabbath, Boris Karloff introduces us to an anthology of three creepy tales. A woman named Rosy (Michele Mercier) is harassed in “The Telephone”; a home is stalked by a possible blood-thirsty beast called “The Wurdalak”; and a nurse (Jacqueline Pierreux) steals a ring off the finger of the wrong dead séance medium.
Of the two films, Black Sabbath is more fun. With the anthology narrative stringing you along from one tale to the next, it keeps things moving at a quick pace. As for Kidnapped, the film feels extremely padded even though it only runs a mere 96 minutes. Both films are presented in full 1080p of course, with Black Sabbath displayed in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Kidnapped in 1.85:1. Both are presented in typical as-is fashion from Kino, but they look really good. There are of course some white specks, hairs, scratches, and dirt here and there, but detail is exceptional, especially considering Kidnapped had to be pieced together since Bava never finished his own cut. Grain is evident throughout, which is no surprise since Kino thankfully seems to have no idea that DNR even exists. And let’s hope they never find out. Both come equipped with LPCM 2.0 Mono tracks that get the job done, even if there’s the occasional hiss or pop. Too bad they didn’t restore the original music for Kidnapped, since the synth score they used for the final cut is really cheesy. There are no special features on either discs; instead they simply feature trailers for the rest of the Mario Bava Collection.
Each tale in Black Sabbath speeds along to its conclusion or twist, coming off like a Tales from the Crypt film. Kidnapped is still worth a look for completists though it comes off more of a curiosity than anything else. Featuring great video and audio for both films, the collection makes both available now on Blu-ray from Kino Classics.