Now On Blu-ray: Mario Bava's EVIL EYE And Jean Rollin's THE ESCAPEES
Popular critical opinion holds that Mario Bava's Evil Eye, known outside of the US as The Girl Who Knew Too Much, was the first true giallo film. This was a very popular style of film from the late '60s though the early '80s that featured a lot of shadows, thrills, creative lighting, and black gloved killers. It's the genre that helped make Bava famous, and the genre that definitely make Dario Argento famous. It is also a genre that most people who aren't hardcore film fans know absolutely nothing about.
Evil Eye is as good a place to start as any if you're curious about giallo film, but not exclusively because it is the first. It also marks a bridge between late era noir thrillers and the harder edged '70s gore fests. Bava takes from many noir conventions and adds in a generous helping of Hitchcockian misdirection in this story about a girl and a murder that may not have even taken place.
While vacationing in Italy, a young woman with a passion for crime fiction (Leticia Román) 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.
The film feels like an extension of Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, but features elements from other Hitchcock films like Vertigo, creating a sort of new blend of thriller that would go on to fuel one of Italy's most interesting native genres.
Evil Eye's black and white cinematography feels appropriate given the influences, however, for people like me who've discovered Bava from his later works, it's strange to see a film of his without those trademark lighting gels. This film was released on Blu-ray in the UK by Arrow Video not too long ago and the image quality on this Kino Blu-ray is every bit as good as that one.
Both releases also feature the US cut title Evil Eye, and the European cut known as The Girl Who Knew Too Much, as well as the accompanying English and Italian dubbed soundtracks. There is no original audio version of the film as Italian films were all post-dubbed. In addition, it's worth noting that the US version is a few minutes longer and has a slightly different tone, so the inclusion of both versions is very helpful.
The only extra on the disc is a very informative audio commentary from Bava biographer Tim Lucas. This is one area in which the Arrow Video release easily trumps the Kino version. However, if you're locked to region A, the Kino is your only choice and it's still a very satisfactory one.