When discussions about iconic directors of the horror genre arise, several big names should always come up: Lucio Fulci, George A. Romero, John Carpenter, Dario Argento, and many others…and of course, Mario Bava. If you are unfamiliar with Bava or his works, you still owe him a great deal of thanks; he is considered by many (and I would wager most) horror aficionados to be the godfather of the slasher film. He pioneered the Italian ‘giallo’ films, which were basically murder-mysteries that often contained horror elements as well as a nice dose of eroticism. These giallo films were the precursors to modern-day slashers. EVIL EYE is one of his earliest giallos, and although it is in black-and-white, it is still a powerful and influential film.
If you are not familiar with EVIL EYE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Kino Lorber:
While vacationing in Italy, a young woman with a passion for crime fiction (LetÃÂcia RomÃ¡n) witnesses a brutal murder. With the help of a handsome young doctor (John Saxon), she launches her own investigation and uncovers a series of crimes known as the ‘Alphabet Murders,’ only to realize that she may be next on the killer’s list. This Kino Classics edition includes both the original Italian-language version (The Girl Who Knew Too Much) as well as the American cut (Evil Eye, featuring a score by Les Baxter and alternate footage). The last of Bava’sÂ features to be shot in black-and-white, Evil Eye is considered one of the earliest gialli, and opened the door for Bava to indulge in a more violent and provocative flavor of films.
I have to confess I didn’t realize EVIL EYE was a giallo until I got the press info for this Blu-ray release. Because it’s one of the first, it’s rather tame when compared to later giallos. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Horror fans and thriller watchers both should enjoy this non-colored gem.
EVIL EYE is shot well and looks great onscreen, especially when you consider its time period. Bava’s films have a unique cinematic style, in that they use light and shadow exceptionally well, even better than many modern day films. This aspect is clearly evident in the film, and it heightens both the tension and the terror.
The acting is great, with Leticia Roman playing the lead of Nora, and John Saxon portraying her love interest, Dr. Bassi. Both do a fantastic job, however Valentina Cortese steals the show as Laura Craven-Torrani. Her performance is both charming and terrifying, the perfect character study for a film like this.
The Blu-ray transfer of EVIL EYE looks great, however there are a couple of transitions that cause the picture to ‘wobble’ every now and then. This is not overly distracting, but it is noticeable. The picture clarity is excellent, however, and there’s practically no graininess anywhere. Likewise, the sound is top notch as well.
EVIL EYE is a big win for me, and I recommend it to anyone not experienced with Bava’s work. This is a great film to start your journey with, and it’s a title every horror fan owes it to themselves to own. The Blu-ray offers two versions: the U.S. release, which was titled EVIL EYE, and the European version, which was released as THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. Regardless of which one you watch, you’re sure to appreciate the impact this film had on our much beloved modern horror genre. This Blu-ray hits store shelves next week, so make a note.