These quotes were taken from interviews with Mario Bava, which are featured in full in Troy Howarth's The Haunted World of Mario Bava, available from FAB Press.
"In my entire career, I made only big bullshits, no doubt about that."
"People, and critics too, should know about the circumstances under which I had to shoot my films. On Terrore nello spazio, I had nothing, literally. There was only an empty soundstage, really squalid, because we had no money. And this had to look like an alien planet! What did I do then? I took a couple of papier-mâché rocks from the nearby studio, probably leftovers from some sword and sandal flick, then I put them in the middle of the set and covered the ground with smoke and dry ice, and darkened the background. Then I shifted those two rocks here and there and this way I shot the whole film."
"I shoot a film and then I run to the nearest bank to collect the cheque in order to pay the arrears, taxes and so forth, and guess what? It's a dud cheque, and I've worked for free."
"I think of myself as one who manages to get along. I don't care about being successful, I just want to go on and on. My father used to tell me this, and he was in the movies since 1906. I'll never be another Antonioni; I love to improvise, to solve problems, to create new scenes out of emergency... In my opinion a good director shouldn't do this: he should stick to the original script and schedule."
"My fantasies are always horrible. For example, I love my young daughter more than anything else in the world, but when I dream of her its always frightening. Do you want to know what character is haunting my subconscious? A violinist who serenades the woman he loves by playing on the tendons of his arms. Everyday life works on my imagination. Just this morning I found a letter, still sealed, from a friend who has since died, written to me ten years ago. It was like receiving a letter from a dead person. What would you do in my place? I burned it..."
"I wanted to be a painter until I was twenty years old. Even today, I am very involved in designing the images for my films."
"I accept anything they give to me. I am too willing to accomodate any difficulty. This is not the way one creates masterpieces. Also, I'm too cheerful and the producers don't like that: they want people who take things very seriously, and above all who take them seriously. But how can I?"
"I'm especially interested in movies stories that focus on one person: if I could, I would only tell these stories. What interests me is the fear experienced by a person alone in their room. It is then that everything around him starts to move menacingly around, and we realise that the only true 'monsters' are the ones we carry in ourselves. Alas, the marketplace demands terrible papier-mâché creatures, or the vampire with his sharp fangs, rising from his casket!"
"Movies are a magicians forge, they allow you to build a story with your hands. Who knows... at least, that's what it means to me. What attracts me in movies is to be presented with a problem and be able to solve it. Nothing else; just to create an illusion, and effect, with almost nothing. that's the best thing about it."
"Then I had to make films in a hurry: twelve days at most. With everything in my head. I used to shoot having the editing already clear in my mind, knowing where to cut, without wasting anything, not even a foot of film."
"I watched La maschera (BLACK SUNDAY) again, five years ago, because an American production company asked me to shoot a colour remake of it. I refused because my son and I split our sides with laughter while watching it."
"I make horror movies, my aim is to scare people, yet I'm a fainthearted coward; maybe that's why my movies turn out to be so good at scaring people, since I identify myself with my characters... their fears are mine, too. You see, when I hear a noise late at night in my house, I just can't sleep... not to mention dark passages! Sure, I don't believe in vampires, witches and all these things, but when night falls and streets are empty and silent, well, sure I don't believe, etc., but... I am frightened all the same. Better to stay home and watch TV!"
"I had a very good friend who was also a great actor, the best I think. For years we were very close: we saw each other three times a day. One fine morning he decided to send me a magnificent present: a pair of massive silver candlesticks! Not knowing how to thank him, I never called him again, never gave the slightest sign of life! I can't say why exactly. I wanted to do something for him, something extraordinary. Not knowing what to do, I simply disappeared."