Mariano Baino

"Someone with a vivid and savage imagination that Bram Stoker would envy" The Daily Star

Hailed as "one of the great torchbearers for expressionist cinema" by Montreal's FantAsia Film Festival, Baino started making films when he was just eight years old.

"I begged my father for his old Super 8mm camera and started making films with my brother,Elio, who at the time was six. Our first epic was "Tarzan", my brother played Tarzan clad in a pair of ripped pants which we'd painstakingly painted in a leopard skin pattern."

Many more mini-epics followed throughout his childhood and early teenage years.

"I planned a huge epic one year. It was called The Dragon and The Wolf, a weird mix of Western and Kung Fu about a wronged Chinese guy traveling to the Old West to exact his revenge on the cowboys who'd killed his father ." Unfortunately he was the only 12 year old in his group who took making movies seriously, "After a few days all the actors (they ranged in age from 9 to 12) had abandoned me. They chose going to the beach over making films! I was crushed!"

Fresh out of school, Mariano wrote and directed DREAM CAR. Shot in two days and post-produced in less than a week, the short film tells of the dire consequences of a man's literally consuming obsession for the ultimate four wheels status symbol. Mariano now considers it little more than an early exercise, something he had to do just to prove to himself that he could. The film has rarely been seen, and its inclusion on the NoShame double disc release of Dark Waters marked its official unveiling!

Mariano's next film was CARUNCULA, a highly acclaimed, short cannibalistic fantasy which first showcased the arresting visual style which has since become the young director's trademark. The film received rave reviews on the festival circuit. Legendary novelist Ramsey Campbell (whom the Oxford Companion to Literature describes as Britain's most respected living horror writer) pronounced it 'Not only a fine tribute to the Italian masters but a small masterpiece of sustained perversity in its own right.'

Accepting an offer from nouveau riche Russian producer Victor Zuev for initial financing, Mariano headed for the trouble torn Ukraine to begin shooting his debut feature, DARK WATERS.

Once there, Baino and his crew were faced with conditions and attitudes which seemed to belong to a truly different planet. From the language barrier to shooting near Chernobyl (A corrupt production manager sold their allotted studio space in Odessa to a rival production for profit, leaving Baino and his crew with no alternative but to move to another studio and brave the nuclear danger), everything seemed to conspire against the film ever getting finished.

Rushes were watched only once a week, sets literally dissolved due to rainfall, his film stock was sold from under him on the black market and cast and crew were nearly asphyxiated when a scene involving hundreds of candles went dangerously wrong.

Mariano persevered and shooting was eventually completed. The film went on to win, among other prizes, the Prix du Public at Montreal's FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL and, at the FANTAFESTIVAL in Rome, DARK WATERS was awarded the prestigious 'Special Vincent Price Award' for outstanding contribution to Fantastic Cinema. Audiences in the UK and all over the world had a chance to see exactly how outstanding that contribution was, when the film was released to great critical acclaim.

Baino's style marks a return to the thematic concerns of the grand masters of cinema and pointedly eschews the viscera and shock for shock's sake of the slasher genre which has dominated the medium for the past two decades. DARK WATERS, very much a mood piece, relies on the implicit as opposed to the obviously explicit and is all the more terrifying for it.

"Growing up in Naples, I used to be terrified by the Catholic iconography, by the array of very morbid and disturbing images which seem to fill so many churches in Mediterranean Countries. All those statues of people suffering, their agonized eyes staring down at me, Christ nailed to the cross, his mother's bleeding, pierced heart. Deeply distressing stuff." Baino says when asked to explain the strong role of religious imagery in his work.

DARK WATERS has been released in the USA in a deluxe double disc edition containing a remastered version of the movie, a collectible replica amulet, a 48 page color booklet and hours of extras. The second disc also includes remastered versions of DREAM CAR, CARUNCULA and NEVER EVER AFTER, a dark, twisted fairy tale about a woman's dissatisfaction with her body and the miracle operation which promises to help her get rid of her worries forever.


Mariano has also directed and edited music videos, including two for singer/songwriter Cecily Fay.

Apart from writing his own material, Mariano has been working as a screenwriter for hire for many years, working in a variety of genres. He wrote a Macedonian set drama, FLOWER OF SHAME, for German Producer Vesna Jovanoska, who also hired him to adapt Chris Niles' urban thriller, HELL'S KITCHEN for the screen. He also worked on an adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette's classic noir 3 TO KILL for NoShame Films and was commissioned by ReDark to adapt Gogol's classic gothic story THE VIJ as a directing vehicle for horror legend Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street). THY KINGDOM COME, a screenplay Mariano wrote for Estonian Producer/Director Ilmar Taska, was made into a movie released in 2010.

He also wrote RITUAL, based on the best-selling novel by Graham Masterton, (a long-cherished project he's developing) and co-wrote SUBTERRANEUS, about a group of vulcanologists who encounter ancient evil in Pompeii's labyrinthine catacombs, with veteran scribe Matthew Weisman, whose past credits include TEEN WOLF and Arnold Schwarzenegger's COMMANDO.

New stereoscopic movie HIDDEN 3D, produced by Oscar winner Don Carmody, is based on an original story that Mariano Baino and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni co-wrote.

The two had previously successfully collaborated by co-directing CORALINA: BASED ON A TRUE LIFE, a six minutes mini-epic shot in the streets of New York. The movie was created to promote the launch of the book CORALINA: LIFE IS ART / ART IS LIFE.

Mariano Baino's artwork has been showcased on CD covers and has been exhibited in the UK and Italy. His most recent solo art exhibition, entitled CYPHERS AND FLAMES, was held at the Soapbox Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

© Mariano Baino 2014. No unauthorized copying or reproduction allowed.