The Devil's Game (I giochi del diavolo, 1981) RAI TV anthology with i.a. Mario Bava's "La Venere d 'ille"

US Severin 2 disc 2022 Blu-ray edition - Region all

Italian RAI TV 1981 with 6 hour long episodes based on 19th century ghost stories written by famous
writers, and with the two best being Giulio Questi's "The Sandman" (L 'uomo della sabbia), and the last
film of Mario Bava "The Venus of Ille" (La Venere d 'ille) co-directed with his son Lamberto Bava

The original title of this made for TV anthology of Ghost stories is "I giochi del diavolo - Storie fantastiche
dell ottocento". These films are not gialli or eurocrime but as i have other Mario Bava films on this page i
review it here. Italian audio mono with english subtitles


Disc 1 with Episode 1 - 3 Disc 2 with Episode 4-6

Episode 1 : L 'uomo della sabbia (The Sandman written by E.T.A. Hoffman, 1 hour 20 minutes)
Aired 20 May 1981 taken from RAI standard tapemaster, a film copy does not exist

Director: Giulio Questi - the interesting director of the unique avantgarde spaghetti paella western 1967
Django, Kill ! and the also unique avantgarde giallo 1968 "La morte ha fatto l'uovo" (read more about the
giallo on my Gialli and Eurocrime page 1, and more about the western on my Cult Classics page 2 (the
latter one text in swedish only)

The Story:

Nataniele (Donato Placido) tells his girlfriend Clara (Francesca Muzio) and his friend Lotario (Saverio
Vallone) about a childhood experience that has traumatized him, When he was very young he saw his father
being murdered by the lawyer Coppelio, A.K.A. the evil entity called The Sandman who use to gouge
out the eyes of sleeping children.
Nataniele is a mysticist believing in dark forces and he's obsessed with his fantasies of Coppelio as being
Death finally catching up to him. He's so maniacal that his friendship with Lotario and Clara ends.

Nataniele returns to his university town, and seems to have calmed down, when ... when an old salesman
(selling barometers and glasses) visits him and says his name is Coppola (Mario Feliciano). Nataniele is
sure that the man is the evil Sandman from his childhood. When visiting a party held by the professor
Spellazani (Ferruccio De Ceresa) he falls in love with the professor's beautiful opera singing daughter,
Olimpia (played by Francesca Muzio in a double role, but not credited almost anywhere for this).

She can sing and play the piano but otherwise she just sits and stares glumly, like a wind-up toy. She
has a dull mind people says, she's inanimated and like an automaton. But Nataniele falls madly in love
with her and the ending of that love affair is delightfully crazy. I loved this film by the Giulio Questi.
The blu-ray presents the film in its original 4:3 ratio with italian mono audio and english subtitles.


Episode 2 : La Venere d 'ille (The Venus of Ille) 63 minutes, from a 16 mm print source
Directors: Mario and Lamberto Bava 1979; co-script Lambrto Bava

An antique bronze sculpture of the goddess Venus is found in the garden of a rich art collector
just outside of Ille. The art expert Mathieu (Marc Porel) arrives to the mansion just when a wedding
between the son of the mansion, Alfonso and rich girl Clara (Daria Nicolodi) is prepared.
Mathieu tries to decipher the look on the Venus statues face and the inscription. Is it a statue that
forebodes evil things to come ? Great short long film and very atmospheric.

A bit too dark though, especially in the ending pivotal scenes and in the night shots. Restoration
could've been better. Yes, i know there were only a 16 mm print source and Mario Bava wouldn't
want to show to much of what Clara saw, surely, but the picture is still too dark.
Cinematographer Nino Celeste says that Mario directed about 70 % and Lamberto 30 %.

The blu-ray presents the film in its original 4:3 ratio with italian mono audio and english subtitles.
Extras: Audio commentary by Mario Bava expert Tim Lucas, Interview with screenwriter and co-
director Lamberto Bava (21 minutes in italian with subtitles), Interview with cinematographer Nino
Celeste (13 minutes in italian with english subs, 2022 Severin)

Episode 3 : La presenza perfetta (The Perfect Presence) 1 hour 19 minutes, RAI tape master
Director: Piero Nelli, based on a story by Henry James. Story: Annie Marden (Rada Rassimov) is
plagued by the apparition of the dead Sir Edmund Orme, a man she once did wrong

Disc 2 - Episode 4 : La mano indemoniata (The Possessed Hand) 78 minutes with Veronica Lario
Soundtrack by Pino Donaggio, director ?
Episode 5 : Il diavolo nella bottiglia (The Bottle Imp) Director: Tomaso Sherman, 88 minutes
Episode 6 : Il sogno dell 'altro (The Dream of the Other) Director: Giovanna Gagliardo, 59 minutes,
Soundtrack Stelvio Cipriani, based on a story by H.G. Wells
All 3 episodes from disc 2 were some sort of arty intellectual ghost stories and Boring


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