Mario Bava was, to put it simply, a genius. Not only did Bava direct the first ever Italian gothic horror movie, but he also contributed in the practice of founding the prolific subgenres of Italian Giallo films and slasher movies, becoming an inspiration for generations of filmmakers to come. Among these artists, Quentin Tarantino himself reprised many of Bava’s intuitions from Cani Arrabbiati (“Rabid Dogs”, 1974) for his debut film, “Reservoir Dogs”.
Son of the sculptor and special effects photographer Eugenio, Mario Bava started his career in the movie industry as a cinematographer, working under his father’s guidance. He went on to shoot and photograph two short movies by Roberto Rossellini, and soon found himself working for directors as famous and influential as Mario Monicelli and Luigi Comencini, capturing performances from the greatest Italian and international actors in the process.
It was only years later that he was finally able to put his directing skills to the test in his first low-budget short films; but what really changed Bava’s art and life were the amazing special effects that he designed for director Riccardo Freda’s works. “I Vampiri” (The Vampire, 1957), widely regarded as Italy’s first horror movie ever, featured the beautiful Gianna Maria Canale turning into an old terrifying woman without any cuts, an ingenious effect that Bava was able to pull off simply applying to the actress red grease pencil make-up, invisible when lit by red lights that could not be seen on black and white film stock, and just turning that light off to create the illusion of her suddenly aging.
Finally, in 1960, these strokes of genius (and the constant help Bava brought to the industry finishing off many films whenever and for whatever reason a change of director needed to happen) convinced producer Massimo De Rita to finance Mario’s → continue…
From:: Taste Of Cinema