giallo

Shaun vs. A Bay of Blood aka Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971)

An elderly couple are murdered in cold blood leaving their ownership of a large expensive estate up for grabs and several people are just dying to get at that fat cash in what comes off like an R-rated take on Clue.  



Judging a Book by its Cover

bay1

 

 

-Oh it’s a literal bay of blood, jeeeez.  Gross.  Why would you go swim there?

-Is the blade the shark?  There’s a shark in this movie, right?

-There is no way in hell this poster would be released today.

 

 

 

 


Who would want to visit this place?

Directed by Mario Bava

Starring Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli and Laura Betti

The film begins inside a mansion with an old woman in a wheel chair being stalked in the dark briefly before getting her head stuck in a noose and strung up by her husband, who maybe watched too much CSI, making it look like a suicide.  The murderer is then promptly dispatched by a second killer armed with a knife, not caring for all the care and subtlety the husband went to.  The husband’s body is dragged to rot in the nearby bay but leaves the fake suicide note left by the husband.

bay3

I’d be surprised to find the camera there too.

This series of events leaves the very lucrative property up for grabs and clearly worth killing over as we will see shortly.  A realtor and his lover, who had previously made an offer to buy the estate, make a move on the property since their original offer was refused.  They however run into several obstacles including the deceased couple’s estranged daughter who shows up just in time, an illegitimate son who knows what’s going on and a even some meddling teenagers who just want to stop by after hearing about the previous murders.  They sure sound like throwaway characters to increase the bodycount, don’t they?

bay2

I’d be surprised to find a machete there too.

The movie plays out like many an Italian crime/thriller of the day only with a heavy, and I mean heavy, emphasis on the stylized blood and violence.  Many archivists and biographers have pointed to Mario Bava as the originator of the giallo with films such as Blood and Black Lace but with A Bay of Blood‘s focus on violence he would inspire the modern day slasher so needless to say this movie actually sets a high benchmark in that respect.  Considered shocking for it’s time, it’s still a little jarring now to watch which is a testament to Carlo Rambaldi’s effects work.  Loaded with that bright red paint look I love so much, the vicious nature of the kills drove the film to controversy including the systematic killing of the aforementioned “meddling teens” who die by throat slitting, blade in the face and a spear between two lovers.  Scooby-Doo this is not!

bay5

I’d be surprised…yeah.

While certainly worth watching for it’s place in genre cinema history, the film is much like any other European import with bad dubbing (over what looks like bad acting by some) and with a somewhat confusing story but does come together if you pay hard enough attention to the plot threads in between the buckets of blood which is clearly the reason this movie was even made.  The ending is also worth the watch just for the jolly laughter you’ll get from it.

TL;DR

Story:  6 – An elderly rich couple is murdered setting into motion several interested parties in their wealthy estate and they’re all willing to spill blood for it.  Oh yes, there will blood.

Blood: 8 – Brutal in tone and visualized with lots of red stuff, it’s easy to understand that the film was made to showcase gritty murders.

Nudity: 4 – Oh yes, there will also be boobs.

Overall: 6 – While it’s one of Mario Bava’s most talked about films, it’s not his best but still worth a watch for what it delivers.

Trivia

-Dario Argento loved the film so much to convince a friend to steal the film print from the theatre and apparently still has it to this day.

-Christopher Lee was horrified and disgusted by the film he left the screening.  Wow.

-The film was shot on such a low budget that Bava acted as his own cinematographer, the majority of the shooting locations belonged to the filmmakers.  The film was supposed to be set in a heavily wooded area but there were hardly any trees so Bava shot branches coming toward the camera to simulate a forested area.

-In addition to Twitch of the Death Nerve, the film was also known by Carnage, Blood Bath, Chain Reaction and Last House on the Left Part II in a re-release because it actually came out a year before Last House Part 1.

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