mario bava

“Jigoku” is both an incredible and truly bizarre film. The director of the movie, Nobuo Nakagawa, made 97 films over the course of his career, which is an ungodly large number by American standards (only two other of his films are easily available in the States, i.e. "The Ghost Story of Yotsuya" and "Snake Woman’s Curse"). If you think of a current director like Quentin Tarantino maybe making one movie every four years, many Japanese directors at the time, were making four or more movies every single year.

Mario Bava’s 1964 film “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” is widely credited with being the movie that launched the Giallo craze of the 1960s and 70s. Bava even gives a nod to the yellow-covered Italian crime novels that gave the genre its name by having titular girl Letecia Roman be an obsessive fan of the books in the film. Roman plays an American girl who travels to Rome to care for an ailing aunt. Her first night in Rome plays like a propaganda film intended to dissuade Americans from travelling to Europe. After a run-in with a drug smuggler on the plane, she arrives at her aunt’s house just in time for the old lady to die. As she walks to a nearby hospital to alert the authorities, she is mugged and knocked unconscious. She comes to long enough to witness what appears to be a murder on the Spanish Steps. When she reports the crime the next morning, the police believe she was hallucinating due to the fact that there is no body to be found and no evidence of a murder. The fact that a shady figure came along and revived her with a shot of whiskey just before the police arrived also doesn’t do much for her credibility.

“A woman should live only until her wedding night, love once, and then die.” So says the unerringly evil inner voice of John Harrington, the lead character and bride-to-be-murdering madman of Mario Bava’s “Hatchet for the Honeymoon”. Needless to say, Johnny is a twisted cat. But his murderous bent has a mysterious root; a root that John is convinced becomes a little more exposed each time he kills.