Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bay of Blood (1971)

Mario Bava was one of the finest Italian directors ever. A skilled storyteller as well as cameraman, he crafted some amazing looking movies that also told really good stories. He had great success with Black Sunday (1960); delved into the world of fantasy with Hercules in the Haunted World (1964), brought a touch of the surreal in Lisa and the Devil (1976) and inspired the 1980 slasher classic Friday the 13th with our subject today.

Bay of Blood (also known as Twitch of the Death Nerve and Bloodbath along with several other titles) is a near perfect template for the 80's slasher movie with a plot that ostensibly is about some shady folks trying to get a hold of some very valuable property (the house by the baby which is, to be fair, quite spectacular) but for the most part its about special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi creating as many realistic gore effects as he can, predating Tom Savini by a few years.

Bava provides the viewer with stabbing; shooting, hanging, machetes to the face (used later by Friday the 13th Part 2), a double impalement (also seen in Friday the 13th Part 2) and all of it shot beautifully with a certain amount of dark humor that permeates the entire movie. But for the early 70's touches, it plays out like a slasher from ten years later, right down to the one notable actor hired for potential name value (former Bond Girl Claudine Auger appears in a major role).

It's sort of hard to go too in depth about a film like this, really, as the plot is threadbare as are the characters. There's a damn good reason the only slasher movie I did in full for the My Favorite Era series was Halloween. Things just tend to happen, as tends to be the case in Italian genre movies. The big thing with watching a film like this is to focus not so much on what happens but how it looks while it is happening.  Why do four random teens (played by actors in their late twenties/early thirties, naturally) show up to just get killed? Who knows? Why are there no sympathetic characters in the movie at all? Well, mainly because this is essentially a very dark comedy at its heart (the double murder at the end is the height of this) but still!

Bay of Blood is a gruesome, wonderfully shot bit of slasher fun that takes the giallo thriller (the precursor to the American slasher movie) that Bava helped pioneer (Blood and Black Lace is one of the best) and reduces it to its basest components. People are killed; the murders are gruesome and the plot is merely a simple frame to hang a bunch of gore scenes from. It's quite the fun, sometimes confusing thrill ride.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.