That's the alliteration for when another zoom-happy shot in a Mario Bava film (okay, in his later films) stop the narrative dead so we can revel in the excess of a zoom lens cranked back-and-forth, and so the cult director can tell us the lava is hot-Hot-HOT! or the evil Baron is bad-Bad-BAD!

Unlike the visual touches in Bava's films, the music scores tend to reflect a peculiar mélange of horror, black humour, and cheeky melodrama that often make it clear Bava knew his work was supposed to be fun and shocking, and that we should celebrate some of the ridiculous horror conventions.

A genre pioneer, a clever and instinctive editor (just watch the breakneck pacing of Caltiki), and master cameraman, even a lesser film like Five Dolls for an August Moon is worth a peek because there's always a moment that's clever, and transcends the ridiculousness for a short few beats.

The sound of Bava's world was conveyed by a large body of composers, many some of the finest Italian underdogs who never reached international acclaim, but whose musical contributions couldn't be separated from their films. Some ideas might not have worked too well, but their scores are great little horror gems that deserve a release for connoisseurs of horror film music.

To close out 2006, we've assembled an eclectic mix of titles, with Bava as the sonic headliner. In the revamped soundtrack section, we've added reviews for DigitMovies' must-have volumes in their Mario Bava Soundtrack Anthology: Volume 1 (La Mashera del demonio / Black Sunday + La ragazza che sapeva tropp / The Evil Eye), Volume 2 (La Frusta Ell Corpo / Whip and the Body + Sei Donne per l'assassino / Blood and Black Lace), Volume 3 (Ecologia del Delitto / Bay of Blood + Gli orrori del castello di norimberga / Baron Blood + Cani arrabbiati / Rabid Dogs), and Volume 4 (I Vampiri + Caltiki + Lisa e il Diavolo / Lisa and the Devil "To Mirna" theme).

To enhance these titles, we've also added DVD reviews of The Girl Who Knew Too Much, and I Vampiri to our archives, with more Bava titles to follow.

Additionally, to contrast my recent MFTM column regarding Stelvio Cipriani films on DVD, a review of Gianni Ferrio's score for Luciano Ercoli's nutty Death Walks at Midnight / La Morte accarezza a mezzanotte (1972) has also been added. Ferrio's music, released by Easy Tempo/Right Tempo on CD and LP, matches Ercoli's crazy giallo to a T, and the composer's work has slowly crept into the soundtrack market, albeit a bit too quietly. Ferrio's Midnight theme shares some striking similarities with the Quincy Jones-Alan & Marilyn Bergman song "Maybe Tomorrow," written for the 1969 Peter Yates drama, so we've added a review of the original LP to our archives.

We've also added a CD review for David Julyan's chilling score for The Descent (released by Cooking Vinyl) to compliment our DVD review of Maple's special edition DVD, which features all of the goodies from the 2-disc UK release of Neil Marshall's terrifying cave-CHUD film from 2005.

Also newly uploaded are reviews for the funny buddy cop riff Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which Alliance-Atlantic released on DVD in a 'bilingual version'. (The soundtrack has the actors exchanging surreal theories, semantics, and insults in chunks of English and Quebecois argot, which elevated Eric Canuel's actioner from mundane to pretty fun.)

Hopefully the success of Bon Cop, Bad Cop will convince distributors to make French-language films more widely available in Canada, since the country's peppered with film fans, Anglophone and bilinguals, who get pretty annoyed when a title that's generated some buzz beyond la belle province is ignored. The search for a French language flick becomes equally frustrating when it's available online in the U.S., and local merchants haven't a clue as to who carries it in Canada. (Oh, it happens.)

Sometimes, however, it's Alliance-Atlantis, Christal, or Maple that carry some of the high-profile titles, and Maple's recent disc of Luc Jacquet's dual penguin docs in Once Upon a Time in Antarctica pairs two titles even the IMDB hasn't yet listed.

Jacquet, whose March of the Penguins became a hit doc in 2005 (and ignited a wave of penguin-themed flicks), also directed a series of shorter docs set in the planet's freezer, and Maple's DVD contains Rush Hour in Antarctica/ Antarctic Printemps Express, and Topsy-Turvy Penguin, both of which we've covered.

Also in tune for the Christmas holiday season is the Raymond Briggs classic, The Snowman, which Sony fleetingly released as a standalone DVD. Featuring a depressingly beautiful score by Howard Blake, it'll either move or annoy viewers with its charm and cutesiness, and the gorgeous animation that earned it an Oscar Nomination in 1982.

Coming shortly: Part 2 of our detailed profile of filmmakers Carl Schmitt & Mark Cairns, and their doc Das Leben geht weiter/Life Goes On !

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, Soundtrack Reviews

Das Leben geht weiter / Life Goes On

A few months ago, we reviewed Kolberg (1945), the last completed film that made it to the theatres during the final months of the Third Reich. Linked to that production was Das Leben geht weiter/Life Goes On (1945), another epic that would have been the first attempt by the Ministry of Propaganda to actually show the country suffering from Allied bombing, and surviving long enough to see victory - which of course, didn't really happen.

Leben was never completed, and the film has become a kind of Magnificent Ambersons for some German film historians, except it's every frame instead of a series of missing reels that's at the top of their list, because the footage disappeared during the post-war chaos.

Curious? Intrigued? Of course you are! The best thing to do is read our review of the German DVD of Carl Schmitt and Mark Cairns' Emmy Award-winning documentary (filmed in German, but accompanied by optional English subtitles), and then check out the first part of our really long & detailed interview with the filmmakers. It's a great mystery, and our discussion covers several aspects of propaganda filmmaking during WWII.

Part 2 will debut Jan. 1st, and will be larded with several mini-reviews of iconic propaganda flicks that appear in the 2002 documentary. The Leben DVD also includes some intriguing interviews with Wilfried von Oven, former Personal Assistant to Dr. Goebbels, and one of the last Q&A's with Dr. Fritz Hippler (yes, him), who discusses the ins and outs of working at the Ministry of Propaganda, and some of Goebbels' favourite films. As an added bonus, we've included a sidebar review of Hippler's first film, Wort und Tat / Word and Deed (1938), a newsreel/documentary that wields its message of national progress with an indelicate sledgehammer.

Also newly uploaded is Dante Tomaselli's latest horror film, Satan's Playground, which integrates the legend of the Jersey Devil into a linear tale of bickering folks trapped on an isolated forest road, and a creepy old lady who lures them into her home of death. Tomaselli's prior works include Desecration, and Horror - the latter released by Elite Entertainment, which we also reviewed.

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews

The New Rock Docs

Back in the fifties, indie studios and film producers realized that dropping a hot rock n' roll act into a wafer-thin, romantic teen narrative was a great means of creating a concept film for the youth market, and in the sixties, studio AIP picked up the baton and featured guest appearances by names such as 'Little' Stevie Wonder in their Annette Funicello-Frankie Avalon Beach franchise, but it took filmmakers like D.A. Pennebaker and the Maysles brothers to show us that rock bands, as feature-length subjects, could drive a film's dramatic line instead of being reduced to peppy filler material in low-concept teen vehicles.

From concert documentaries like Don't Look Back and Gimme Shelter, it became clear - even to the Rolling Stones, who often funded their own productions - that the lifestyle and personalities of a band offered another kind of compelling drama that could be more interesting than the concert itself.

Eighties band Mission of Burma folded after four years on the road, and just footsteps from what critics and fans contend would've been a great, creative wave; the Pixies closed shop after bickering and frustrations drained the fun and pleasure from performing and writing as a group.

In both cases, band members didn't end up as clichés, and when they reunited, the cameras were there to capture a wholly different view of iconic musicians living under, or far away from, the shadows of their intense music careers.

There's something heartwarming about aging rockers who've matured into great musicians, and because of the demands of a family life and secondary careers, treat their musical performances with a level of sobriety and discipline younger bands are likely to eschew. Not a Photograph: The Mission of Burma Story, and loudQUIETloud - a film about the Pixies, are significant documents from MVD Visual that show music icons as accessible personalities experiencing the same challenges and roadblocks of downsized professionals; it's not the careers and music that's up-front, but the private lives, except without the usual sensationalism and sleaze.

Also reviewed this week is the film debut of WWF headliner Kane (Glen Jacobs) in the youth slasher flick See No Evil (2006), released by Maple in Canada, and Lions Gate in the U.S., and featuring a hook, a chain, and very wet gore.

Also of note is DigitMovies' CD of Ennio Morricone's complete score for Addio fratello crudele / Tis a Pity She's a Whore (1971). Based on a play by Shakespeare's contemporary, John Ford, the film (still unavailable on DVD) is much more than a sleazy tale of incest during the Middle Ages (although Charlotte Rampling and her hunky lovers do get very nekkid). Photographed by Vittorio Storaro, and featuring art direction that must have inspired Julie Taymor's stylistic design of Titus, Addio features an extraordinary, beautiful score by Morricone, written during one of the composer's busiest periods.

Stay tuned for more goodies!

Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews, Mission of Burma, The Pixies, Kane, Soundtrack Reviews, Ennio Morricone
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