Like the many Italian recipes that call for yesterday’s bread, that country’s film industry knows how to make old ingredients taste new again. Around the same time that spaghetti Westerns were reconfiguring the tropes of Hollywood oaters, the giallo genre was putting 50 years of horror filmmaking through the cinematic pasta machine. Director Mario Bava is typically cited as the one responsible for kick-starting the style — giallo means “yellow,” a reference to the cover color of many Italian penny-dreadful mysteries — as well as a major influence on the slasher genre.
Now two of Bava’s films are hitting Blu-ray for the first time. The excellent Black Sabbath (1963, 1 hr., 32 mins., Not Rated) is composed of three tales of expertly building suspense, including one that features horror icon Boris Karloff as a ghoulish revenant in 19th-century Russia. A decade later, Bava made Kidnapped (1974, 1 hr., 32 mins., Not Rated), a tense, nihilistic thriller about three bank robbers trying to escape town with hostages. It comes spring-loaded with a genuinely shocking twist ending. Neither disc comes with any EXTRAS…except for that tingling feeling on the back of your neck.
Black Sabbath: A- Kidnapped: B