A Bay Of Blood
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Leopoldo Trieste
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Perhaps Italian horror maestro Mario Bava’s masterpiece, or at least easily making his top three, this is as influential in the horror world as it is confusing to get its name right. That’s because this bit of giallo/proto-slasher goodness has almost a dozen different titles depending on what country you’re talking about. In Italy it had three different names during pre and post production and it was first releases as The Ecology Of Murder. In the US it first came out under the ho-hum title of Carnage. It was also known by the much better (and my favorite) name of Twitch Of The Death Nearve. It was also called Bay Of Blood, with an without an ‘A’ in front of it, and in order to cash in on the infamy of a certain Wes Craven film, it was also called Last House On The Left Part 2 in some circles. In the UK it was called Bloodbath for a while. There are also several other possible titles that I couldn’t confirm, but hey I think I made my point. Anyway…
If you want to know how influential this 1971 film was then know it is widely believed by just about everyone that it was the blueprint for the flood of slasher flicks that were to follow a decade later. In fact, let’s play a game. If I say Friday The 13th Part 2 what comes to mind? Ok, other than Jason running around with a pillow case over his head? Chances are it’s the kills, as they are the most memorable parts of any slasher flick. Well two of the best murders were the guy in the wheelchair that gets a machete smacked upside the head vertically and the two kids who get shish kabobed together with a spear while doing it in a bed. Well both of those kills were stolen scene for scene (ok, minus the wheelchair) from A Bay Of Blood. But more than stealing individual kills, Blood was one of the first body count films, where people get offed in creative and very bloody ways, one by one until the end of the movie.
Now to be sure, A Bay Of Blood does have much more of a story going for it than that. In fact, it’s pretty unique and more of a gory murder mystery than a standard stalk and slash. It begins with an old woman in a wheelchair (hmm, maybe that’s where Friday Part 2 got the idea) getting killed by someone in the Giallo signature black gloves. But then, surprise, it’s revealed that the killer was the old lady’s husband. But before you can say, “Gee, that wasn’t so mysterious” he then gets stabbed to death by someone else. Yeah, pretty cool, huh? That’s like little Mikey Myers getting killed off in the first act of Halloween after bumping off his sister and the movie going on without him. The rest of the film is pretty much standard slasher fare with some young pretty people showing up to party, get naked, drink and screw, and then get sliced and diced with flair.
Like I said; slasher blueprint.
To say anything more would ruin the surprises, not to mention one hell of a weird ending you’re sure to not see coming. So let’s talk about the Blu-ray from my friends from merry old England, the always reliable Arrow Films. The transfer is very well done, the colors are crisp and clear, the shadows deep and dark, and no pops or marks appear on the screen. So for just being the best looking copy of this 40 year old horror classic I’ve ever seen that should be reason enough for you to get it.
However Arrow, in their usual fashion, has loaded it up with some nifty extras. There are two chunky behind the scenes/making of/the cast and crew remembers featurettes, a twelve minute special where Joe Dante (director of Gremlins, The Howling and others) talks about Mario Bava and this ground breaking film. Then Edgar Wright (director of Shaun Of The Dead, Scott Pilgrim VS. The World and others) introduces and discusses trailers for both the Carnage and Twitch Of The Death Nerve versions of the film. A pair of radio spots round out the extras.
If you have never seen this film, under any of its countless titles, then you are simply not a true horrorhead. Sorry, but this is mandatory viewing to get your membership card. If you have seen it then chances are you loved it, and now you have the best version ever available. Best of all, like all of Arrow Film’s Blu-rays, it is region free so you can enjoy it on either side of the pond, down under, at the North Pole, or anywhere else you so desire.
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