Bay of Blood (a/k/a Twitch of the Death Nerve) (1972)
By guest writer Jim DiNolfo (You can see other fine examples of Jim’s commentary and reviews in our past Shlocktoberfests like: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, Fade to Black, Halloween, and You’re Next.
That trailer looks like Saul Bass threw up on it.
– A quick amuse-bouche. –
Giallo, for those not in the know literally means “yellow” in Italian. It also refers to a certain genre of film dealing with crime and mystery mixed with horror. It has also been said to be the color of fear, thus making Sinestro’s placement on the ROYGBIV spectrum a lot more sense.
What’s It About: Countess Federica goes and gets herself perished, and the race to the inheritance of her estate causes the bodies to hit the floor.
Here are some of my observations as I watched the film:
- The opening credits look so much like a Friday The 13th, one of this movies many other titles should have been “Campeggio Lago di Cristallo Otto Anni Prima”.
- At 8 ½ minutes in, we’re already witness to two vicious murders. Bava doesn’t fuck around.
- I was going to write a joke about the Countess’ death scene and David Carradine but stopped.
- When the idiot teenagers arrive, there are so many up skirt shots I thought I was watching an episode of Ikki Tousen. Two people got that joke if I’m lucky.
- Anna the Fortune Teller looks like Grace Slick in a Brian May wig.
- Even in 1972, skinny-dipping meant you were going to be killed.
- After all four of the teenagers are slaughtered, the camera slowly pans to a shot of their parked speed buggy, and the goddamn thing actually looks sad at what has transpired.
- Mario Bava was an absolute genius with color. Check out Blood and Black Lace if you don’t believe me.
- The blood in these early Giallos always reminded me of tempera paint. These are still supposed to be observations yes?
- Once Simon was revealed to be the illegitimate son of the Countess, why did no one refer to him as “The Bastard of the Bay?”
Is It Actually Scary: Of course. The stalking scenes have some nice tension; the way the film was lit is gorgeous and gives it a very creepy feel.
Scariest Moment: Anna’s decapitation scene would have definitely been the scariest, but the camera stays on a shot of the axe about to do the deed way to long. I mean it almost looks like a still. The scene is saved by a jump cut to a porcelain doll’s head falling on the ground and shattering.
Most Disturbing Moment: Instead of a WTF moment, I will give this one a che cosa? After the murderous couple dispatch of everyone in their way, they return to their home to celebrate their impending inheritance only to have their young children blow them away with a shotgun. They then skip out of the house to music very similar to The Banana Splits. Coming in at a very close second is when Filippo’s body is uncovered by his daughter, and she finds it being face-raped by an octopus. Put me right off my calamari fritti safe to say.
Dumbest Moment: When Simon gets a pot of boiling water right in the mush and doesn’t suffer so much as a blister. I understand the production was rushed, but with all of the other make-up effects used for the kills, you would think they had some extra latex lying around for a quick facial appliance.
How Much Gore: It’s Mario Bava’s favorite film, and the title of it is Bay of Blood. Care to hazard a guess?
Best Line: “Gee they’re good at playing dead, aren’t they?” Those two kids at the end of the film should have a tag-team match against Damian Thorn and Rhoda Penmark.
Best Scene: Without a doubt, when the gorgeous stack of Italian pancakes that is Brigitte Skay treats us to a full frontal nude swim.
Worst Scene: When she puts her clothes back on.
Any Nudity: Thanks to the above mentioned Ms. Skay, yes.
Overall: Considered to be il nonno of slasher films, you can clearly see how this set the standard for pretty much all of the 1980’s entries to the genre. Friday the 13th parts 1 and 2 Gus Van Sant-ed some of the scenes entirely. Giallos usually come later to the horror fan, after they have exhausted the modern repertoire and want to see what the influences were. They did for me at least, and not only did they introduce me to some of the greatest European directors ever – they also forced me to buy another bookcase for the inevitable mass DVD/BD purchasing that ensued.
Score: 7 out of 10 face-fucking octopi (out of 10)
That “man in the wicker” caption is pure gold.
Also, I heard around podcast/blog land that “giallo”s are also called that because the pulp novels in Italy all had yellow covers. I can’t cite that, but it makes sense.
I’d like to add/mention the scene that was blatently lifted from this and used in Friday the 13th, where the couple in bed are both killed by having a weapon plunged through their bodies and into the floor beneath the bed 🙂
Nice post! Never heard of this movie before but the face raping octopus has certainly caught my interest.
I don’t watch movies or read blogs that talk about or feature octopus.
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