A Bay of Blood
Import Blu-ray/Region All pressing. A family's murderous battle over some bayfront property is the subject of director Mario Bava's bloody horror-thriller, which many have cited as the grandfather of the modern slasher film. Claudine Auger is the scheming daughter of a murdered Countess; her staged suicide forms the basis of the film's plot. In a seemingly unrelated subplot, four hippies arrive in a dune buggy led by Brigitte Skay, who dances the Shake and swims naked before having her throat hacked open with a machete. Skay's boyfriend has his face chopped with the same machete and the other couple has a spear thrust through their bodies as they make love. All of these murder scenes were imitated in Steve Miner's Friday the 13th, Part 2 and the film's style influenced countless American slasher films of the 1970s and '80s. Bava also includes a strangulation by telephone cord, a gory axe decapitation, a man speared to a wall, and five other murders.
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : R (Restricted)
- Product Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.59 x 7.48 inches; 0.64 Ounces
- Director : Mario Bava
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Import
- Run time : 1 hour and 24 minutes
- Release date : December 14, 2010
- Actors : Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Volonte, Brigitte Skay
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Unqualified (PCM Mono)
- Studio : Arrow Video
- ASIN : B003Y3ZHUS
- Number of discs : 1
Best Sellers Rank:
#109,759 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #3,293 in Horror (Movies & TV)
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Top reviews from the United States
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The film opens with the wheelchair-bound Countess Federica (Isa Miranda; DORIAN GRAY - 1970) looking out the window of her huge lakeside mansion, a forlorn look on her face. As she is wheeling herself into another room, someone slips a noose around her neck, kicks the wheelchair away and hangs her (Killing #1). It is then revealed that the killer is her husband, Filippo (Giovanni Nuvoletti). He places a suicide note next to his wife's body and is then viciously stabbed in the back by some unknown killer (Killing #2).
A few days later, four young adults enter the Countess' property in a dune buggy. While three of them break into the mansion for some sex and disco dancing, Brunhilde (Brigitte Skay) goes skinnydipping in the bay, gets her foot caught on a rope and dredges-up the corpse of Filippo. Before she can make it to the mansion to tell her friends about discovering the dead body, she is chased by someone, who graphically cuts her throat with a curved blade (Killing #3). Robert (Roberto Bonanni) hears a noise outside, opens the front door and has his face cleaved in two by the same curved blade (Killing #4). The killer pulls the blade out of Robert's face (surprisingly graphic and as good as anything Tom Savini has ever done) and enters one of the bedrooms, where Duke (Guido Boccaccini) and Denise (Paola Rubens) are making love. The killer runs a spear through their naked bodies, pinning them to the mattress (their death throes look like they are still humping! Killings #5 & #6). The Countess' neighbors, the always inebriated tarot card reader Anna (Laura Betti; HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON - 1970) and her eccentric husband, entomologist Paolo (Leopoldo Trieste; DON'T LOOK NOW - 1973; he keeps and insect in his pocket that he talks to!) are visited by married couple Renata (Claudine Auger; THE SUMMERTIME KILLER - 1972) and Albert (Luigi Pistilli; THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW - 1974). Renata wants to know more about her father, Filippo (They hope to inherit the Countess' millions). Paolo tells her that her father was a womanizer and Anna tells the couple that the Countess' fortune is going to Simon (Claudio Volonté; VENGEANCE - 1968), who is her illegitimate son. This news doesn't sit too well with Renata or Albert, so they go and see fisherman Simon by the dock on the bay (and, no, he isn't sitting!). While they are talking to him, they find her father's dead body in Simon's boat (his face is engulfed by a live squid, which is very unnerving!). He tells them that he found the body floating in the lake. Renata gets sick, so she goes to the mansion to wash her face in a bathroom, where she discovers the mutilated bodies of the four young adults. Suddenly, caretaker Frank Ventura (Chris Avram; THE SLASHER...IS THE SEX MANIAC! - 1972) appears, hatchet in hand, and he chases Renata, forcing her to grab a pair of scissors and stabbing him by thrusting her hand through a glass door. Albert checks up on his wife and sees Paolo running out the door. Renata explains to Albert what she has done and tells him he must kill Paolo before he calls the police. Albert strangles Paolo as he is on the phone (Killing #7) and when Anna sees Frank's body, someone lops her head off with the hatchet (Killing #8). Renata then tells Albert that she killed Anna and that they must get rid of Simon so they can inherit the fortune. It turns out Frank is not dead and he tells his wife Laura (Anna Maria Rosati) to go get Simon. Simon accuses Laura of killing Filippo, but she tells him that Frank killed him.
A flashback ensues, where we find out what actually happened to Countess Federica on that fateful night. Frank and Laura wanted to buy the bay and the area surrounding it, but the Countess refused because Frank wanted to industrialize the area, ruining its natural beauty. Laura became Filippo's mistress, using sex as a way to get him to kill his wife. The rest is history. When Laura tells Simon the story, he strangles her with his bare hands (Killing #9). This triggers another flashback which shows us that Frank paid Simon to kill his wife (These people are despicable!). Back in the present, Albert kills Simon by impaling him with his own fishing spear, pinning him to a wall (Killing #10). Frank tries to kill Albert, but he gets the upper hand, killing Frank instead (Killing #11). This triggers a fast-forward, where we see Frank and Renata standing outside, Frank burning the Countess' will, thereby letting them inherit her fortune. What they don't see in all their giddiness is someone pointing a shotgun at them. We hear, "Daddy!" and the sound of a shotgun blast, Albert and Renata's lifeless bodies lying on the ground (Killings #12 & #13). The shooter? Their young son, who turns to his little sister and says, "Mommy and Daddy are sure good at playing dead!" Kids. You can't live with them and you sure can't kill them!
This atmospheric film was directed and co-written by Italy's master of the macabre, Mario Bava (PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES - 1965; 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON - 1970; BARON BLOOD - 1972; RABID DOGS - 1974). Bava was also a master with the camera (he also was cinematographer on this film), knowing how to turn the most ordinary things into something creepy and dangerous (He does it here with squids. I know he is trying to get squids to represent a symbol of something deplorable, but they just come off as creepy. I have no idea why some people eat them. I guarantee they wouldn't be if they watched this film!). What amazes me is that Bava didn't get the recognition he so richly deserved until after his death (in 1980). People now know that he was a genius with a camera and was way ahead of his time, as most of his films still hold up today, Originally filmed as REAZIONE A CATENA ("Chain Reaction") and later known as ECOLOGIA DEL DELITTO ("Ecology Of A Crime"), this film pre-dated most of the slasher films that flooded U.S. theaters and home video from the '80s right up to this day.
Released theatrically in the U.S. by Hallmark Releasing under the titles CARNAGE and TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (which is how I originally saw it on a double feature with an edited version of Amando Ossorio's TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD ). Hallmark later released it under the ridiculous title of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT PART II. It was released on fullscreen VHS by Gorgon Video (under the review title) and on VHS in England under the title BLOOD BATH. It also received a widescreen VHS & DVD release early in the New Millennium courtesy of Image Entertainment (both a long OOP). But it's the Blu-Ray, from Kino Lorber, that you should buy. While it is short on extras (just some trailers for other Bava films that are on Kino's roster), it contains the U.S theatrical version (in Italian or English dubbed. For once, the English dub is not intrusive, as most of the actors are speaking English) and the alternate European release (in Italian with optional English subtitles) which adds more exposition to the film. Both versions look absolutely marvelous and show-off Bava's mastery behind the camera. Be sure to listen carefully in the beginning of the film to learn what a "squonk" is. Frank's description is a good reference to how all of the people in this film behave. I consider this a masterpiece of Italian horror. The soundtrack, by Stelvio Cipriani (CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD - 1980, and nearly 240 other Italian films!), is also very memorable. Also featuring Renato Cestiè & Nicoletta Elmi as Renata and Albert's young son and daughter. The theatrical version is Rated R. The European version is Not Rated.
Mario Bava was the king of Italian Horror from his glorious gothic horror movies like Black Sunday and Black Sabbath, to laying the groundwork for gialli films with Blood and Black Lace to basically inventing the slasher movie with this film, one of the alternate titles I truly love, Twitch of the Death Nerve. It isn’t exactly a gialli film, there is not much attention paid to solving the mystery because basically everybody did it. This is about having as many elegant and gory death scene packed into one movie at one time. Whether by strangulation, death by bill hook, or impaling to lovers with one spear in a scene recreated by the film Friday the 13th Part 2. My favorite scene isn’t actual one of the many well staged death scenes but the discovery of the body covered in octopi. Probably why it was set on a bay was just for the excuse to cover somebody in living wet wiggling octopi. The movie has the high budget polish of a main stream movie and an exceptional score by Stelvio Cipirani giving cover to what is an exceptional body count movie.
Somebody compared this to "Friday the 13th", and while I see where "Friday the 13th" borrowed a couple of death scenes from this movie, the comparison stops there. Actually, I thought this was somewhat of a ripoff of "Dementia 13", which I find to be a superior movie to "A Baby of Blood" while finding neither particularly compelling horror theater. If you want to watch a good Italian horror movie, I would recommend "Suspiria", "Inferno" or "Tenebre". Like "A Bay of Blood", "Tenebre" is a slasher, but a much better movie.
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The DVD reviewed here is from Film 2000. The picture quality is poor and looks to be a transfer from a VHS. Aspect ratio is 1.6:1 and run time is 80 minutes which means that this issue looks to be the cut version. Extras are four trailers. According to the BBFC website, the later issue from Arrow has all the previous cuts waived. There is also an uncut Italian version from Raro Video which has English subtitles.
After a brief introduction to some of the residents and key characters of the thinly populated bay, a group
of teens arrive at the lakeside location for some recreational fun-time.
From the moment they arrive you become aware that they are being watched.
The story though is centered around the chase to claim the murdered Countess's legacy, wealth enough
to kill for.
Meanwhile the fun loving teens start to become the victims of the killing spree very quickly.
In truth there are many suspects to choose from as the story and killings continue, and the body count mounts
The victims all have a bloody end as the possible estate claimants become fewer,the film does have a satisfying
twist at the end.
An Italian made movie pretty typical of the material that was being turned out by both European and American
film makers during the early 70's into the early 80's.
Some pretty graphic killings but in truth little tension, the script and story-line perhaps a little thin.
Okay for a one-off viewing.
The Blu-ray upgrade is good with the close-up scenes, a little grainy on the distance shots.
The film does have many features along with a booklet.
Due to me watching it early hours and there being others in the house I kept the volume fairly low. When I watched the film I had no problem with the Audio quality and everything seemed clear but I don't own a dedicated speaker system so I can't judge on the quality through other outputs. I give the audio a 4/5
The extra's seemed pretty decent with interviews(one with Joe Dante of gremlins fame), radio spots and trailers(featuring commentary by Edgar Wright) and a few other bits, one entitled shooting a spaghetti classic which sounds like a behind the scenes/retrospect perhaps. Packaging by Arrow was great and although I wasn't overly keen on some of the artwork I can appreciate others will like it, it also comes with a small booklet and reversible poster. Hats off to Arrow I give 3.5/5 for packaging.
Overall I enjoyed this film and considering it is now over years old stands the test of time and is obviously the precursor and inspiration for the Friday the 13th franchise that came a decade later. I give this Arrow release an overall 3.5
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 4, 2016