Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dollar Bin Review:Bay of Blood (1971)

By Eric Polk-
It's been called Twitch of the Death Nerve(its original title), Blood Bath, and even Last House on the Left-Part II yet there is no denying-at least to the hardcore horror fan-that Mario Bava's Bay of Blood is the focal point for all slasher films that followed and that includes, I hate to say, includes Halloween(1978) and Friday the 13th.
At night in her bayside mansion, wheelchair-bound Countess Federica is attacked and strangled to death by her husband, Filippo Donati. In turn, an assailant suddenly stabs him to death. Donati’s corpse is then dragged to the bay. The police find what they believe to be a suicide note written by the Countess. Donati's murder goes undiscovered.

Real estate agent Frank Ventura and his lover Laura plot to take possession of the bay. They had arranged with Donati to murder his wife after she had refused to sell her house and property to them. To finalize their scheme, Ventura needs Donati's signature on a set of legal documents. They have no idea that Donati has been killed.

Four teenagers break into Ventura's cottage. Shy Bobby (Robert Bonnani) stays behind in the house while his date, Brunhilda skinny-dips in the bay. Donati's rotting corpse rises from the water and collides with the nude girl. Terrified, she rushes out of the water, but an unseen assailant hacks into her throat with a machete, killing her. The killer then goes to the house and slams the machete deep into Bobby’s face. Bobby and Brunhilda's two companions, Duke and Denise (Paola Rubens), find a bed upstairs and are in the throes of sexual passion when the murderer finds them; a long spear is thrust through them, bloodily killing both at the same time.

Renata and her husband, Albert, arrive and go directly to the house of Paolo Fassati, an entomologist who lives on the Donati’s grounds. Anna, Fassati's wife, tells them that the Countess’ death was due to Donati, and says that Simon will probably end up with the property. Renata, who until that moment had no idea she had a half-brother, immediately makes plans with her husband to murder Simon, who at the same time is planning her demise.

Renata and Albert find Donati's gruesomely mangled corpse on Simon's boat, then go to Ventura's house. Ventura suddenly attacks Renata and tries to kill her, but Renata manages to stab him instead. Fassati has witnessed everything, and when he starts to telephone the police, Albert strangles him to death. In order to ensure that there are no additional witnesses, Renata murders Anna by decapitating her.

Normally, I jump at the chance to watch teenagers get mutilated at the hands of an unknown killer. However, given the soap opera-like atmosphere of this movie, it just didn't work for me. I mean, why were they there in the first place?  It was, in a sense, watching twenty minutes of extraneous footage that could have been left out. Then again, we wouldn't have the slasher films we have today without the movies' spear-fu and machete-fu. It's like pouring a bag of sugar on top of a sundae.

Fortunately, I can put this movie in my top ten list of films I've seen this year thanks to an ending that I don't think anyone saw coming. If you haven't seen this three steps from-a-masterpiece, do check it out.

1 comment:

Kev D. said...

Long live Bava!


Lamberto too.