Phil Mucci Talks PROFESSOR DARIO BAVA, Shocking True Confessions of a Paranormal Playboy
We do loves us some Phil Mucci 'round these parts. Over the years we have loved, and written about, his short films and music videos. When word got out that he was launching a crowfunding campign to create a new graphic novel we did not hesitate to help get word out, even throw some sofa coins at the campaign ourselves.
Thus we have Professor Dario Bava: Paranormal Playboy in the graphic novel Murder Vibes From The Monster Dimension, due out on February 18th. Because Phil has given us such joy over the years we will give him the floor so to speak, here at ScreenAnarchy so he can share with you how Professor Dario Bava came about.
At the end pay particular attention because Mucci is giving ScreenAnarchy readers 20% off any order of Murder Vibes From the Monster Dimension.
The floor is yours, Mr. Mucci.
SHOCKING TRUE CONFESSIONS OF A PARANORMAL PLAYBOY
How I gave birth to my psychedelic horror love child, Professor Dario Bava,
via sorcery and immaculate invention
Sure, I’d dabbled in black magic before. There wasn’t a kid I knew who hadn’t played with Ouija boards, or tried to summon demons from the paperback Necronomicon we all hid from our parents. But it wasn’t until I became a filmmaker that I really started to believe in it.
The thing is, I’d been pregnant with Professor Dario Bava for eight years before he spilled out into the world. After the success of my first short film, The Listening Dead, I immediately channeled my love of exploitation horror flicks from the 60’s and 70’s into my second short film, Far Out — which aired on The Sundance Channel for two years.
Drunk on its success, I wanted more, and outlined an elaborate story for a feature film taking place in the same retro psychedelic horror world, Blood of the Virgin’s Crypt. The protagonist, Professor Campbell, stumbles upon a French film crew illegally shooting a vampire flick on the grounds of a haunted abbey where all hell breaks loose. Due to budgetary concerns, the project never got further than a twelve page treatment. Little did I know then, but Professor Campbell was the blossoming zygote of Professor Dario Bava, paranormal playboy.
Eight years later, I was an in-demand heavy metal music video director, specializing in animated and live action narratives that made the most of their tiny budgets by utilizing old school special effects. I often joked that I was now the kind of filmmaker that inspired my early work, a “drive-in” director of pulpy schlock whose drive-ins had been replaced by smartphones and tablets. It was only natural that I’d come full circle one day. When my friend and collaborator Jill Janus of Huntress approached me to do a new video for their single “Sorrow”, I knew that day had arrived.
I realized the themes of the song related directly to vampirism, and that this was a chance to revive some of the characters and storylines I’d written for Blood of the Virgin’s Crypt. I quickly wrote a shorter treatment that included many of the same elements, renamed the main character Professor Dario Bava (in honor of Dario Argento and Mario Bava), and pitched it to Jill as more of a crazy retro horror film than a standard music video. Jill loved it, and the rest, as they say, is on YouTube.
The “Sorrow” shoot was a long and grueling affair. We had a skeleton crew working long hours early into the morning, in an un-air conditioned “castle” in Los Angeles, previously used for countless porn films, in the dog days of August, 2015. To top it off, we were doing practical special effects, which meant a lot of quick takes and slow clean-ups. During one such reset, Ian Mackay stayed in character, regaling the crew as Professor Dario Bava (PDB), improvising lines of dialogue in his ridiculous Italian accent, keeping us all laughing instead of going for each others throats. After a particularly hilarious riff on the endless uses of garlic for "vampires, or a nice bolognese!”, our director of photography, Jeff Speed, set the psychedelic wheels of PDB's future in motion.
“Bava's such a great character -- he can’t just die! He needs to have more adventures!”
In that dark and sweaty moment, sponging fake blood off a fake castle in a fake city, we knew Jeff was right, and we haven't forgiven him since.
“Our favorite music video director Phil Mucci is back,” Heavy Metal announced when “Sorrow” premiered. “It’s another Mucci triumph of blood, sex, and destruction.” Huntress and horror fans agreed, and faster than you could pound a wooden stake into a vampire’s heart, they demanded more Professor Dario Bava. Through the black magic of filmmaking, I’d finally given birth to the paranormal playboy who’d haunted me for years, and who’d feed my imagination for many more to come.
(See Huntress “Sorrow” video below)
I began writing Professor Dario Bava: Orgy of the Blood Freaks as a four part VOD mini-series, with episodes running 10-15 minutes each, to be produced in the animation style I'd developed for music videos. As I was writing, even more magic happened. The character of Professor Dario Bava, ex-Vatican exorcist turned monster hunter, became the battleground of two competing ideologies I’d experienced as a child: the Italian patriarchy of my father’s immigrant family, and my mother’s tough Irish feminism. The clashes I grew up witnessing around the dinner table were playing themselves out in Bava’s psyche, adding a whole new dimension to the retro horror world I was conjuring. By spring of 2016, the scripts were done, and we set to work shooting the animated title sequence teaser with a cast of our favorite actors, starring Ian Mackay as Professor Dario Bava.
(See Professor Dario Bava Animated teaser below (appears to be something wrong with the display, just click the link to go to Vimeo directly))
I also wrote a detailed series bible, including the origin stories for all of the main characters. This wasn't busy work by any means. One of the themes of PDB is that history matters, and that our individual journeys through life can have ramifications for the rest of the world far into the future. After a hilarious table read and some encouragement to aim higher than a VOD mini-series, these character histories became the foundation for Murder Vibes From the Monster Dimension, the first Professor Dario Bava graphic novel.
As I reshaped the backstories into a graphic novel anthology script, Diabolik producer Dan Simpson set out to find the perfect artist to bring them to life. “Mike Dubisch was on my radar, mostly due to a lot of mutual friends in the Diabolik circle -- mainly writers,” Dan explains. “It was only after I’d looked at a lot of wrong art, that I circled back and realized how right his style was for the project.”
A student of legendary cartoonists Will Eisner and Walter Simonson, Mike Dubisch’s roots in golden age horror comics and pulp sci-fi have made him a regular contributor to internationally distributed The Creeps magazine, along with some of the greatest artists working in the genre. “I did a deep dive into his art, and it immediately inspired ideas for PDB, provoking the same ecstatic emotions I got from reading Warren comics as a kid in the 70’s.” Dan also scored the legendary Italian horror artist Emanuele Taglietti for the variant cover and Orgy key art image. "I feel really fortunate that both my first picks for art were able and willing to come on board -- things don't usually line up like that!”
With the main creative team in place, we launched our Indiegogo campaign in the spring of 2018, with a modest goal of $ 7,500 to cover our printing costs for a thousand books. To our surprise, we hit that goal within the first 24 hrs, and ended our campaign earning over 200% of our goal, thanks to our beloved “Inner Sanctum” of backers. And we didn’t have to summon any demons to do it!
After a lengthy production, I’m very excited to announce that Professor Dario Bava’s first graphic novel, Murder Vibes From the Monster Dimension is finally available for everyone to enjoy! Learn how Vatican exorcist Dario Bava turned on, tuned in, and dropped out to fight monsters with Future Chick, time traveling super-hippie from a heavy tomorrow, and Major Bitch, far out freedom fighting yeti-slayer!
To celebrate the launch, we’re offering a special promo code for ScreenAnarchy readers. Head over to ProfessorDarioBava.com to order your copy of the book (main cover or Taglietti variant - or both!) and enter the promo code ANARCHY at checkout for 20% off. Promo code valid from now until March 31st, so stop back often to check out the new stickers, apparel, original art, and signed print editions we’ll be releasing over the coming weeks!
In the words of the Professor himself: “Righteous!”
For Mature readers. Learn more at ProfessorDarioBava.com.
Professor Dario Bava, Paranormal Playboy, and Paxagram symbol ®© 2020, Diabolik LLC