A Bay of Blood [1971]
Directed by: Mario Bava

Link: IMDB

Mario Bava knows how to pull every emotion out of the viewer to create a rollercoaster of emotions that is as genius and exquisite an approach to the 1970s horror genre. A Bay of Blood is fucking depressing. Stelvio Cipriani, who gave us such groovy soundtracks to films like Tentacles

and Piranha II: The Spawning

creates an aura that turns a rainy day into a crisis.

In A Bay of Blood, also known as Twitch of the Death Nerve (in an unedited manner), the subtle yet depressing orchestration leads us into a dark and dreary afternoon as raindrops cry down a window like mortality being sucked out of us one drop at a time. An elderly lady sits in a wheelchair (played by Isa Miranda, who people called the Italian Marlene Dietrich) contemplates her life. A flute plays a wispful solo into the air and you can feel its sadness. This is the set up to a true horror story. The depressing conclusion of the elderly who are alone and lost in life because their physical and mental capacity has been deteriorated.

But in an instant, a rope, a man, and a noose quickly sucks the fragile life out of this old woman and excruciatingly, she is murdered. Bava is good at two things: accentuating the act of death and finding people with over-sensitive hairdos.

What starts out as 1970s horror fodder spins into what feels like espionage; what it all boils down to is just that. The husband murders his wife for money. He makes it look like a suicide, and the rest of the movie is about her relatives getting offed in true slasher fashion to dwindle down the odds of dividends.

If you have seen Aliens, you have seen Bava (Planet of the Vampires became the inspiration to make this 1978 horror classic). He was also known for the first Italian science fiction film, The Day the Sky Exploded. If you have seen Friday the 13th: Part II, you have seen Bava. His giallo fascination that led to A Bay of Blood gave us the slasher film.

Cipriani is really the star of this film. He captures the innocence abound when an afternoon skinny dipping in the lake turns into a deadly chase after a corpse emerges into discovery. He accentuates a sunset with a few fluttering notes and intensifies the night with his mysterious demeanor. This begins the rampage of deaths.

One, a spear through two lovers, embraced. Another, a man’s face, machete’d in two, realizing his horror with the continued blink of an eye. Another, an octopus engrossed over a dead man’s face.

It’s probably my favorite effect in the movie. The sheer horror as Bava spends an uncomfortable amount of time dwelling on the deaths. The only thing swift in this movie is the plot as it moves at a rapid pace.

Back to Cipriani, he composes glorious tribal directives as unconditional as his soft serenades. He attracts us to the loveliness in this film and then unexpectedly we become the voyeur to these grizzly murders. This creepy lady [Photo of creepy lady] looks an awful lot like Helena Bonham Carter [Photo of her] who undergoes a proper beheading with super speed. It’s probably the most elaborate effect in the film, yet it is the fastest death. What it comes down to is that the less people who are alive in this film, the tighter the plot weave is and the heirs to the Bay become closer to whoever is left standing.

So how does this all end? Before WTF was a trendy thing to say, Bava exploited the reaction because this ending is a serious What . The . Fuck? As players are deduced to two, even those two are knocked off by an incredibly unsuspecting duo. And what started out as glum, turns into a natural enlightenment of youth. Cipriani infuses the moment with a Mancini-esque outro that is as cheesy as it is fascinating. It only accentuates the “did I just see that” reaction. Tarantino would later exploit plot twisters with greater severity and poise.

A Bay of Blood Trailer

Categories: Film

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