From legendary Italian director Mario Bava comes the granddaddy of splatter flicks, (also known as Twitch of the Death Nerve and Carnage amongst other names) this is the precursor to all those masked killer, revenge laden, chock full of blood movies that we all reveled in during the heady days of the early 80s – hell, a couple of the murders were pretty much stolen frame by frame by the Friday the 13th franchise (Double impalement, machete to the face, even the sweater that Mrs. Vorhees wears!!). The one big difference here though is that there is more than one killer, in fact it isn’t a stalker film per se because damn near everyone gets in on the act. The other difference is the skill and craftsmanship that Bava brings to this movie.
Opening with a slow, atmospheric build up where not a word is spoken for eight minutes we witness the murder of the wheelchair bound Countess Fedorica Donati by hanging before her killer, her husband Filippo is then dispatched by an unseen killer! The stage set we are introduced to a mangy bunch of greedy suspects, including Frank Ventura, a dodgy architect who is after the lakeside property, Filippo’s daughter Renata and her henpecked husband Albert, the Countesses’ illegitimate son Simon, a couple of nosy neighbours, Paolo, who collects bugs and his wife the tarot card reading Anna and then a bunch of teenagers who of course are served up as an entrée in bloody and gruesome fashion. Bava doesn’t rush things either, after that initial double murder it’s near half hour before the slaughter begins but once it does he makes it worth your wait.
With special fx by Carlo Rambaldi we are treated to what would soon become staples of the splatter/stalker movies – decapitation, impalement, machete to the head and more. Obviously a big influence on Sean Cunningham and the F13 crew! The surprises keep coming though with suspects being chopped down and new killers emerging it soon becomes apparent that this isn’t a story about one mysterious killer, it’s a story instead about greed and avarice and what people will do to get what they want and how they pay the price for that greed. There are no good guys in this movie, no virginal girl to save the day, no square jawed hero, everyone is up to their guts in murder, deception, greed and grue. They all pay a price for that avarice.
The thing I love most about the film though is the look of it. There is something about Bava’s placement of characters, his depth of vision, his use of scenery that gives this film an almost three dimensional feel. No CGI rubbish, no computers, just old fashioned know how, skill and experience. The whole film looks stunning, colours and shades used to perfection, everything in its place, every angle used to its best advantage. It’s true – he was a genius. It adds that little something extra to the film, making for an almost perfect package. Of course, it seems a little slow at times when viewed now but hell, I don’t care, it is a beautiful experience, a great movie and a beautiful package all round.
Arrow Video have gone all out here with this two disc set. As well as the English dub film you get the Italian version with English subtitles! Plus a 30 minute documentary featuring scriptwriter Dardano Sacchetti who worked with Bava, Argento and Fulci!! Then there’s the Bay Of Bava – a twenty minute chat with cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia plus a Joe Dante featurette, a couple of trailers and more besides. This is a labour of love and a worthy addition to your library. So what are you waiting for?
Blu-ray Edition contains:
Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned art work, double-sided fold-out poster, collector’s booklet by Jay Slater, critic and author of Eaten Alive!, brand new high definition transfer of the English version of the film, Italian cut of the film, original Mono Audio.
Special Features: Argento! Bava! Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti, Joe Dante on Mario Bava, Shooting a Spaghetti Splatter Classic: Cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia on A Bay of Blood, audio discussion with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, A Bay of Blood Trailers: ‘Carnage’ and ‘Twitch of the Death Nerve’ with commentary by Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead, Twitch of the Death Nerve Radio Spots.
DVD Edition contains:
4 Panel reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned art work, Double-sided fold-out poster, collector’s Booklet by Jay Slater, critic and author of Eaten Alive!, brand new transfer of the English version, original Mono Audio, Italian Cut, original Mono Audio.
Special Features: Joe Dante on Mario Bava, shooting a Spaghetti Splatter Classic: Cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia on A Bay of Blood, audio discussion with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, A Bay of Blood Trailers: ‘Carnage’ and ‘Twitch of the Death Nerve’ with commentary by Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead, Twitch of the Death Nerve Radio Spots, Argento! Bava! Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti.
DIRECTOR(S): Mario Bava | COUNTRY: Italy | YEAR 1971 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): Arrow Video | RUNNING TIME: 81 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: 16:9 | REGION: All | DISCS: 2