The Evil Eye (1963)

Very good suspense, excellent photography, and negligent characterizations comprise this class-A terror package from Italian genre pro Bava. Romain is sufficiently terrified, and photographs well in stark B & W. Saxon is strictly sleepwalking through this Italian work/vacation. A woman comes to stay with an elderly relative in Rome; finding her dead on her first night in town, she runs into the street and ends up being robbed and possibly witnessing a murder. Of course, in true Giallo form, no one believes her and she spends a lot of time receiving threatening phone calls. Not much of a shocker ending, but with plenty of payoff along the way.

Bava was a director by this point, but he had just left behind a career in film photography a few years before making this film, and it shows in the excellent visual qualities of this film (as well as all his films, even the worst of them). One thing I find interesting is that Bava is known for his black and white photography, but also developed interesting techniques with lighting in color that allow him to use the same type of shadow/alternating light effects that work in black and white in color films. I’ve noticed these types of effects in other Italian films, but none so striking or consistent as in Bava’s films, which leads me to believe he is one of the innovators of this style. Despite the often wonderful results achieved by Bava as a color-film director, his black and white film “Black Sunday” is best regarded, and I think “Evil Eye” should be given a second look, because it seems that with black and white Bava is at his best.