Pullbox Reviews: Professor Dario Bava in Murder Vibes from the Monster Dimension! (yes… it’s as awesome as it sounds)

I’m just going to start this review by saying that the world of Professor Dario Bava is not going to be for the faint of heart, the easily offended, or the perpetually bothered. If the mere mention of a “trigger warning” is enough to trigger a negative response, you may want to move on to brighter climes. Set in the 70’s and born of a twelve-page treatment for an unrealized feature film titled Blood of the Virgin’s Crypt, in which a film crew attempts to film a soft-core porn film on the grounds of a haunted abbey, the Professor’s world is one of demonic perversions and ultra-shock violence.

Murder Vibes from the Monster Dimension sets the stage for a three-part horror epic titled Orgy of the Blood Freaks, the first of which is live on Indiegogo even as we speak. Readers are introduced to some of the major players (including one Major Bitch) in a narrative that loops in on itself as it starts after, and lays out events leading up to, Blood Freaks. I was lucky enough to get on the radar of the folks at Diabolik, and they were awesome enough to provide me with a copy of Murder Vibes for my perusal and enjoyment.

So let’s get to this review, hey?

In the words of creator/writer (and colorist and letterer) Phil Mucci, his original vision for Blood of the Virgin’s Crypt “was an over the top ode to Eurosleeze horror flicks of the 60’s and 70’s”.  Given that I grew up watching more of those movies than I probably should have been exposed to at a tender young age, this book struck all of the right cords with me. Mucci’s script is filled to bursting with the kind of dialogue we should expect from the era in which it’s set, you dig, as well as a plethora of characters that would have been right at home on the set of any Hammer film. If I were to assemble a “dream cast” for a movie based in Prof. Bava’s insane world, I’d start with a young Al Pacino fresh off the set of Serpico to star in the title role. The roles of “Future Chick” (a hippie from the future who assembles the badass superteam Sisters of Tomorrow), Ginseng Jones, & Sister Sadie are every bit as easy. It’s that ingrained sense of classically shocking exploitation cinema that brings Murder Vibes to life, and it’s Mucci’s writing (and colors and letters) that brings it all together to make it happen.

But as we all know, every comic (or in this case grafik) is only as good as its artist, and this book owes a huge debt to the pencil of Mike Dubisch. In every case where the visual style could have been tragically wrong for the book, Dubisch turns Mucci’s over-the-top scripts into equally over-the-top works of horrifying art. Where some books might have shied away from certain scenes, say for instance the attempted rape of a minor who fights back and is stabbed in the eye for her efforts (so is born the supremely badass member of the Sisters of Tomorrow, Major Bitch), Dubisch goes on the attack. There’s almost nothing that’s merely hinted at in these pages, a thing that may bother some and could potentially lose Team Bava some readers. However, as I was reading Murder Vibes (for the first time and the second) it kept occurring to me that without the graphic content to keep its edges sharp, the whole book could have fallen too far into the realm of camp.

I ain’t saying that there’s no camp built into the genes of Prof Bava and the Sisters of Tomorrow, the hippest and the baddest batch of spliff toking warriors to sport tasseled vests and bell bottom jeans. I’m just saying that every splash of blood, every piece of viscera, and every heavily dated bit of dialogue is earned. Start to finish, Professor Dario Bava in Murder Vibes from the Monster Dimension is an homage, a salute to some of the best of the worst (worst of the best?) horror to come out of decades long past.

If none of that were good enough, then take a look at the amassed artists gathered for the bonus artwork included in this volume. With highlights coming from the likes of Barcelonan artist Suspiria, the psychedelic Cthulhu-inspired work of Nick Gucker, and Amanda Graef (whose work has been featured in music videos from Disturbed and Metallica), there’s no stone left unturned in the building of the Bavaverse.

Or there could have been one unturned stone… if Phil Mucci hadn’t pulled off one of the greatest coups a star struck horror writer could hope for in the signing of the Maestro of Italian Erotic Horror, Emanuele Taglietti for the book’s alternate cover. Having worked in the film industry through the 60’s & 70’s (for such unknowns as Sergio Leone and Frederico Fellini), Taglietti moved on to a career as a cover artist that should see him ensconced among the likes of Boris Valejo and Frank Frazetta.

I almost forgot (boy that would’ve been embarassing…)! There’s a trailer for an animated series!

If any of my embarrassingly enthusiastic praise has raised an eyebrow, bounce yourself on over to Professor Bava’s website and gander at the available wares. To buy, or not to buy… that’s a question only you can answer. I’m just a humble reviewer and spouter of effluvia that some might say is best left unspouted. All I can say in closing is…

Final Score: 12/13

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