A BAY OF BLOOD (2 DISC R2 SE)
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
Mario Bava's ultra influential and often imitated spaghetti slasher (also known by the awesome name Twitch of the Death Nerve) is one of the bright shining gems of the true Grindhouse era of genre cinema. In a dispute over the land rights to a secluded island, people are being gruesomely killed off left and right in a bloody free for all that makes little sense, but is always a blast! Who's the killer, and are they working alone? Doesn't this place have any cops? Just what the f*ck is going on here, anyway? Maybe this new Region 2 special edition from UK distributor Arrow Video will shed some light on Bava's seminal hell ride.
Is it good movie?
What can I say about the great grandfather of our beloved teen slasher genre? With 13 brutal kills, Bava's commentary on the young violently taking over the world of their elders has stood the test of time, and bares its formidable teeth as a forerunner of an entire sub-genre of horror flicks. A Bay Of Blood (or Twitch of the Death Nerve, or Carnage, or any one of the many names it had been released under) has been imitated many times, from ushering in the now overdone "psycho slashes up some promiscuous teens" plot, and the kills being copied many times over, sometimes subtly, but in other cases more overtly. In fact, two iconic scenes from Friday the 13th Part 2 are direct copies of two kills in this movie - the machete in the face scene, and the excellent spear through the two lovers in the bed (which for Friday was a shot for shot copy). Also imitated is Bava's rambling narrative, his non too subtle social commentary, and the atmosphere and tome of the flick itself.
All of this homage lovin' for Bava is because this movie, and many others from Italy around the same time, pushed boundaries in the early 70's that Hollywood or small American production didn't have the balls to do. Ultimately, people make movies to be released and seen, but these giallo slashers usually ended up running in X Rated theatres alongside the porno icons of the day. This was the grindhouse era of cinema, filled with movies that were considered untouchable and unsellable at the time, but are today considered classics within several genres, and even examples of some of the best independent filmmaking in the history of genre cinema.
But enough preaching, it's on to this new release! I've never seen the movie look this good, and the folks at Arrow Video have put together the most complete print of the movie I've yet to see. The English version of the movie looks gorgeous, and the sound if clear and jarring. It's a big step up from when I first watched the movie, on a European bootleg VHS, with scenes missing and the picture and sound seeming to some from the bottom of a muddy river. Fans of Bava, collectors of giallo cinema, grindhouse flicks, or historic slasher films (I never thought I'd use those two words together!), you need to scheck out this Region 2 special edition. It is worth it, for old fans and new initiates alike. There are some awesome extras here, and an unrestored Italian print of the film, but despite the fact that there could have been more examination and extra delving into this historic piece of bloody fun, it is ultimately the best release of the classic I have seen to date. It's not to be missed.
Video / Audio
Video: We get both films in a standard Widescreen, and the restored English version is the cleaner of the two prints. The Italian cut is grainy and muddy, and hardly restored at all, which in some ways adds to it's charm.
Audio: Dolby Mono in both English and Italian, with English subtitles. I'm assuming that no other audio sources were available, because this movie deserved some killer audio that seemed lacking.
Disc 1 contains a restored English Mono cut of the film, along with:
- Interview with Joe Dante on Mario Bava
- Shooting a Spaghetti Splatter Classic: Cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia on A Bay of Blood
- Audio discussion with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark
- A Bay of Blood Trailers: ‘Carnage’ and ‘Twitch of the Death Nerve’ with commentary by Edgar Wright as part of his Trailers from Hell series
- Twitch of the Death Nerve Radio Spots
Disc 2 contains the original Italian cut of the film, plus::
- "Argento! Bava! Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti", which I think is one of my favourite features in a long time. Sacchetti seemed to come to screenwriting by accident, and made a long and amazing career collaborating with three Italian masters (on such movies as Zombi, City of the Living Dead, Cat O' Nine Tails and so many others).
I'm a fanboy of spaghetti slashers, so I come at a classic like this from a biased angle, but anyone who has seen A Bay of Blood can't deny it's impact, both as a work of horror and as a precursor to four decades of bloody, gory mayhem. Add to that the fact that I've been in love with Claudine Auger for more than 35 years now, and there's really nothing bad I can say about this movie. Sure it's dated and a little hokey, with bad English dubbing and a weak story, but the killer surprise ending and an undeniable psychotic charm are just two of the reasons this movie is awesome, and must be seen, especially by the new generation of horror fans raised on PG13 crap. It may not be as flashy and gory as movies are today, but for the time, it was cutting edge, and it is still a damn fine scary movie!