Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bay of Blood Bava`s Gore Masterpiece

Title: Bay Of Blood aka Twitch of the death nerve

Year: 1971

Director: Mario Bava

This is where the body count films began. Bava was not only a genius at visuals but single handily created the Gallio genre.Sadly though what people forget is he also should be credited as being at the forefront of the teen slasher movement which exploded in America in the mid seventies and grew bigger with the 1980 film Friday the 13th. Yes,almost a decade before Jason stalked the sunny Camp Crystal Lake another killer stalked the woods picking off teen loving teenagers. Bava makes a huge departure from his stylish supernatural thrillers to make one epic gore soaked murder mystery. 

Bays Importance to the genre:

This is the granddaddy of slasher films and its safe to say that without it we wouldn't have films like Friday the 13th and Sleepaway Camp. Not only did this come before Friday but Friday the 13th part 2 lifts several kill scenes from Bay almost shot to shot. One is the kills is the machete to the face (done much better in Bay) and the other is two lovers getting impaled by a spare. Bay of blood could very well be the prototype for these teen slasher films. We get a happy bunch of teens that are looking for a good time at the bay, similar to the teens in Friday. Also its funny the one female character just happens to feel the need for a skinny dip, sound similar horror fans? Sounds cliche but it wasn't in 1971. 

Bava wastes no time in setting up a gruesome murder. We see the black gloved killer but the camera pans up to see the killer, wait what? Not a who dun it? Think again as the killer is quickly dispatched leaving the audience even more in the dark and wanting more. The mystery element also keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing right til the end.  Its the splatter element that really makes this movie stand out. Its note worthy to mention that when a victim gets it, unlike your body count films from the late seventies and eighties the characters don't die right away from there injuries yet Bava prolongs it to give it a eerie realistic feel. It also helps that the effects are top notch and believable. Maybe some of the best effects I`ve seen from films of this decade. The squid on the corpse pictured above is just plain hard to gross. Very cool!  It just goes to show that nobody did splatter and gore like the Italians. Also like the American slashers there are plenty of bare flesh to even make Russ Meyers smile! 

Like most Italian films the characters are off the wall, and everyone seems to have skeletons in there closet. This is certainly the case in Bay of Blood. The strange over the top performances only add to the strange vibes and heightens the surrealism.  The cast is really good. Playing the role of Albert is the great character actor Luigi Pistilli. He is awesome as always. You might remember him from a little movie called A Few Dollars More and the epic The Good The Bad and Ugly just to name a few. Claudine Auger plays the female lead and is also pretty good. Auger has a nice resume as well starring with Sean Connery in Thunderball and Black Belly of the Tarantula. 

Its not a stretch that this film would be visually pleasing as Mario Bava was a pioneer in adding style to the genre with such bloody affairs as his 1964 film Blood and Black Lace. He creates a level of dread and horror even in a normally cheerful bay. His use of colors and camera angles are as always well thought out and polished. And while its not his most stylish it is a lot more interesting then what was being done at the time by anyone else. He also uses the killer P.O.V which again was way ahead of its time. No spoilers but the ending is jaw dropping and shows a killer sense of comic irony. 

 To just say Bay of Blood is important to the genre would be doing it an injustice, it was the blue print to what we now know as the slasher/body count sub genre. This should be viewed by anyone who is serious about horror films and there roots. Its a shame that this film falls under the cracks and it deserves another look. So take a long stroll along the Bay if you dare......

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