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Tag: Twitch of the Death Nerve

Bay of Blood (Twitch of the Death Nerve)

by on Jul.30, 2010, under Daily Review

I don’t know where to begin with this one. I was a bit nervous to revisit this film after all these years, but how glad am I that I did. It’s a beautiful experience, not only the cinematography, but the perfection in Mario Bava’s execution of style reinforced with intriguing plot and gorgeous Italian flair. This is the beginning of the slasher genre. Right here in Italy, 1971. This is the inspiration for the rest.

The basic plotline involves the inheritance of a beautiful, natural bay with a nice big manor house on the grounds. A husband apparently bumps off his crippled wife which starts a whole string of murders by the hands of relatives in order to gain the booty. Through flashbacks we get some incite to reasoning, later on in the film this is, but prior, a group of free loving friends break into the home for fun and frolicking. These soon meet the hatchet and are taken out in a style which will be replicated over and over in millions of slasher films. The original Friday 13th actually recreates some of these murders if my memory serves me well.

Performance wise, the cast are cool looking and offer an awful lot to the film. Charasmatic and beautiful, enigmatic and charming. Italians know style and for me, the 70’s is the height of cool. Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Brigitte Skay are brilliant, with Claudio Camaso stealing the show as the lesser known about, young son (Simon) of Countess Donati (Isa Miranda).

The film is a triumph not only in intriguing plot and great acting, but Bava’s celebration in film making. He’s the original master of cinema using (or creating) every trick in the book. Inferior camera angles, panning shots, close ups, beautifully constructed framed scenes which could be perfect photographs. One thing I love is his use of constructed angles during dialogue with each sentence, the angel changes from a low shot, to a frame of multiple characters, to close up then high shot etc. Giving a real sense of involvement, a technique I’ve never seen to this extent before. Another great style point is his use of focus, or should I say, his use of out of focus. Finishing scenes blending out of focus and lingering on other scenes still out of focus with dialogue of soundscape taking priority over senses.  His work is a joy to watch.

So, what about the gore. Plenty and from numerous weapons. Boiling water to the face. Hatchet to a face. Spiky stick through the back of two lovers, the old pole in the chest, nailed to a door keeping the victim upright. Loads. A few real highlights. The wheel chair death at the beginning of the film is outrageously good with the viewer feeling every chocking moment as she twitches and struggles with her toes along the floor. The other, would be the body found in Simons boat with a squid wrapping it’s tentacles and suckers all over the blue rotting pasty flesh.

What else can I say? I could go on and on. The music is brilliant too, very atmospheric. Who’d have thought the use of bongo drums could be so effective. This should be the first port of call for anyone wanting to dabble with a bit of Mario Bava and for those looking for some real summer camp slaughter. This is the original and its perfect.

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