Italian director Mario Bava is known for his artistry in giallo genre films. These types of Italian films blend horror and eroticism which ultimately became essential to fellow directors, Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento. I am not as familiar with Mario Bava as I am with the latter mentioned directors, so I am making it my new mission to delve into some of Bava’s more well-known works. A Bay of Blood is my first Bava film and while I notice many similarities with Fulci and Argento, I have to say that I am more than pleased by the gore but less than satisfied with the plot line.
A bloody sequence of events ensues following the murder of a wheelchair bound heiress. She is killed by her husband who is then shockingly murdered by someone else just moments after. As this man admires his handy work, he is stabbed in the back. Literally. The murderer is murdered. This is certainly a strong start to the film and sets precedence for what is to follow. Though the plot is sometimes hard to follow, the gist of the film is that there are multiple heirs to the property which includes a very large bay of water and a lakeside cottage. Why this land and body of water is so valuable enough to kill for is beyond my understanding. We are quickly introduced to over ten pertinent characters early on in the film. This can be a little confusing with so much going on, trying to figure out who is who and assessing their motives. Multiple plots develop surrounding the house and initial murder; too many for me to mention here in a concise manner.
Now that I have aired my grievances on the convoluted plot, I want to get to the good part. I was honestly shocked by each and every one of the nasty and bloody death scenes, raising my brows in astonishment, even when I was expecting it most. Bava is known for pushing the boundaries which is very apparent in his strangely erotic death scenes, particularly having his victims squirming sensually before they finally die. It is just as strange to say it as it is to watch it. A specific sex scene comes to mind where a couple gets impaled by some sort of rod through the bed (reminding me of Kevin Bacon’s death scene in Friday the 13th). They continue ‘the act’ for a few more seconds before they stop moving for good. It’s truly unsettling.
It feels like there really aren’t any ‘good guys’ in this film, exposing the cruel nature of human beings. The acting is not spectacular, but I find this common when dubbed or foreign actors speak English. It is usually never fluid but it’s something I often look past. Overall, this is a pretty good film. Surprisingly, the first half of the film is a lot more death-packed than the latter part, giving reason why I found the first half of the film much more enjoyable. I love a movie with a good twist but this one has like twenty twists. That is honestly not an exaggeration. This became increasingly monotonous and almost seemed like a joke at the end of the film. I absolutely love the horror part of the film, but ultimately I was a little disappointed. Even with that said, I still recommend this film for any true horror fan.
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