BAY OF BLOOD (or TWITCH OF THE DEATH NEVER) is a brilliant film. The idea behind it is original and it's still a one-of-a-kind flick, even if the movie itself inspired a gazillion slashers. Regarded as the granddaddy of slashers, BAY OF BLOOD has a unique concept behind it that none of its duplicators have successfully copied: the concept of people being murdered one by one, not by just one killer but by several killers, in very gruesome ways, all in the name of super dry, jet black comedy.
There's something surprisingly stealthy about Mario Bava's approach to the deliberately confusing story. Throughout the labirynth like story-line, we bounce from one character to the next, never having enough time to get to know the people in the movie to care enough for them and when they are killed, their deaths suddenly take a surprisingly modern twist. Unlike most slashers out there, like FRIDAY THE 13TH or even HALLOWEEN and their endless sequels, many critics have said that in order for the horror element in those movies to work, you have to care about the people getting killed. Many critics have dismissed the whole slasher genre just on that basis: the films are not horrifying because the people getting killed either deserve it because they're annoying or the acting was really bad, or just because the writing was terrible and the characters were just token characters and it's not scary to see token, cardboard characters getting killed. Well, in BAY OF BLOOD, the ingeniously scripted story transcends this. The characters in BOB are not really deep or even memorable but their introduction to us, the viewer, is so quick and their deaths are so gruesome and so sudden and unexpected that the fact we know little about them hardly matters. It hardly matters because the killings aren't being made by a single killer with a singular reason but by several killers, whom all have a confusing number of reasons (which can all be traced to greed), with few of the killers knowing that others are also killing other people at the same time and as the film progresses, the killers, in turn, also become victims themselves. This is the brilliant aspect of BOB. People just kill each other left and right in a neverending succession of blood and violence, each people completely indifferent to each other. Watching this made me giggle and wince. The story cannibalises itself repeatedly, every ten minutes or so, snowballing into an all-out blood bath. The effect this creates is like being trapped inside a time-loop, in which the same thing happens over and over AND over again. Combine this with the fact that the story's actions happens mostly within a brief time-line (except for the beginning, everything happens on the same day) BUT that it also goes back and forth in time, with flashbacks and such, and BOB, oddly enough never feels grounded to one specific time. The killings in BOB feel different than anything I've ever seen in a horror film. Each killing is seemingly detached from the story itself and the film takes an all new unique approach, as the deaths come to the fore while the rest fades in the background. It almost feels like we're watching the killings happen "live". There isn't a single lone female survivor, or a surprise ending like most horror films (there is a surprise ending in BAY OF BLOOD but it's not a killer coming back to life).
The acting is good but the cast is mostly anonymous (deliberate?). Except for Claudine Auger, the rest of the cast seemingly all meld together. The location and sets were also good. Only the music was inappropriate at times and the cinematography was sometimes annoying, with Bava's constant use of out-of-focus shots, which I don't like at all. My favorite scene in BOB is the one when Claudine Auger goes to the bathroom. Arf!!!
Though I consider BAY OF BLOOD to be brilliant, the film is dated and there's a certain aloofness to it that even if it serves the story to a certain extent, this aloofness is carried to an unfortunate extreme which makes the film feel not as "passionate" as it could have been or should have been. I guess aloofness is a Bava trademark, which is one of the reasons why I'm not a big Bava fan. Except for HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON, I've haven't been impressed by most of his films. Well, BAY OF BLOOD has impressed me a lot and I have to say that it's probably my favorite Mario Bava film, along with HATCHET. All in all, I think BAY OF BLOOD is a unique, one-of-a-kind gruesome movie. Anyone who didn't like it just didn't get it.
A Bay of Blood
Horror / Mystery / Thriller
A Bay of Blood
Horror / Mystery / Thriller
An elderly heiress is killed by her husband who wants control of her fortunes. What ensues is an all-out murder spree as relatives and friends attempt to reduce the inheritance playing field, complicated by some teenagers who decide to camp out in a dilapidated building on the estate.
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September 01, 2018 at 06:51 AM