I don’t think that I’ve covered any Mario Bava movies for the Horror Dude Blog yet. That surprises me since I’m a big fan of his work. I figured I’d start with one of my favorites, Bay of Blood aka. Twitch of the Death Nerve. While not his best nor most famous flick it is a blast and has some controversy surrounding it and a famous slasher franchise that borrowed heavily from it. More on that later.
The movie kicks off with an elderly woman in a wheelchair getting strangled. The man who kills her is then almost immediately stabbed to death after planting a fake suicide note next to her body! This movie is not messing around. We are then introduced to many other characters that are all either living by or heading to the bay that was the we later find out were the cause for the killings we have seen and those that we shall soon see. The old woman was a countess that owned most of the property around the bay, which has become valuable to developers. She had no desire to sell it and see the natural beauty destroyed. So of course, she had to go.
Out characters are made up of several random groups. There are different heirs jockeying for position to inherit the land, others wishing to profit on developing it, and a dune buggy full of kids out for fun. We also get some random locals and the illegitimate son of the Countess tossed in. They all collide, and much murder occurs. But who is the killer and why are they targeting their victims? No spoilers from me, but I will let you know that unlike many Italian flicks this one does a good job explaining everything by the end.
Many fans consider Bay of Blood to be one of the first Slasher movies, but I disagree. To me this is firmly ensconced in the Giallo genre. To begin with we have a good mystery going on from the start. We know that the first killing is done by someone different because they themselves die right afterwards. So, there is no doubt that we have more than one killer. But what is the motive and is it random or were they connected? The movie keeps you off balance from the very start and stays away from a predictable formula. If you have been reading Crappy Movie Reviews, you know that I love Slasher movies having done a couple of marathons already. But let’s be honest and admit that they follow a predictable formula without much variation. That doesn’t leave much room for a “who done it” which is a hallmark of a good Giallo. This is why I can’t call this an early Slasher movie.
That said I could see why others would disagree with me. The kills in the movie are top notch and really damn good for an early seventies flick. We get a couple people strangled, a stabbing with both a knife and spear, and finally a decent beheading. But the best two kills I’ve already teased earlier when I mentioned a famous slasher franchise “borrowing” from Bay of Blood. We get a spectacular machete to the face (yeah it isn’t a machete exactly but close enough) as well as a couple kids pinned together mid nookie. Sound familiar? Both of these kills were clearly lifted and used in Friday the 13th part II. Not a big deal I just wish that the filmmakers would own up to it as they still haven’t and probably won’t. Give Bava some credit damn it.
There is a lot to recommend Bay of Blood including the ending which I’ve not mentioned and won’t spoil in the review. Trust me it is an out of left field twist that always makes me giggle. Then again, I may be twisted from watching movies like this for most of my life. Regardless this is a top-notch horror movie that far too many fans have never taken the time to check out. I highly recommend it.
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