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A Bay Of Blood (movie review)

OK. Yesterday was the day I sat down and watched A Bay Of Blood (a.k.a. Ecologia del delitto, a.k.a. Reazione a catena), the Mario Bava’s movie hailed as a proto-slasher and by many regarded as a cult classic, and one of the former Video Nasties of the 1980s era.

That was actually my second time watching the movie, I’ve tried to watch the movie once before with my more beautiful half, but she’d been bored by the movie (to be honest, she’s not into old movies), so I just made myself a nice cup of coffee, put my new Bluetooth wireless phones on (so I don’t disturb the household with TV noise, as for some strange reason the sound from our living room is really loud) and I lay down comfortably on our sofa expecting a great experience.

Boy, was I wrong.

I am first to admit I am influenced by many of my mentors (i. e. people writing about various movies, reviewers and such) in choosing my movies. Why not, I am just a newbie trying to find my way in the maze of world cinematography. Luckily – and I think that should apply to all of us – I tend to define what I like on my actual liking of the movie (or book, or music…and so on), and not to go with the flow just to appear “in the know”.

So, obviously, when one reads a lot of movie reference books, it’s only natural one will find great Mario Bava and his movies. And his A Bay Of Blood is very often cited as the classic, so it was only logical (thanks, Mr. Spock) to give this a view.

Mario Bava

I was familiar with Bava’s work through La maschera del demonio (Black Sunday, 1960) and La ragazza che sapeva troppo (The Girl Who Knew Too Much, 1963) and while the latter I didn’t like that much, those gave me the idea what to expect. So far, I liked Bava.

A Bay of Blood is, as I’ve already mention it, hailed as a first (or among the first) proto-slashers, and this claim is not without it merit, as those remembering some Friday the 13th movies could readilly attest. Still, I just class it as a giallo/whodunnit with high and gory bodycount. And, in a way of some giallos, also incoherent and – gradually – boring.

What is the movie about? Well, I don’t think I will spoil it (at least not too much) – old countess Frederica Donati (Isa Miranda) is murdered in her villa by her husband Filippo (Giovanni Nuvoletti, with characteristic giallo-almost-trademarked black gloves), who, in turn, got stabbed and killed by an unknown attacker. So much for a nice, calm evening.

Now there is quite a rivality amongst the relatives, who want the estate for themselves. And so the gory murders begin and bodycount rises.

And that’s basically about it, as I don’t want to spoil who’s killing who and why, that’s actually somewhat interesting, apart from a female nudity to spice things a little. Apart from actually interesting play with colours and colour contrasts, that’s about the intersting parts of the movie.

Story is confusing, some things are explained later in the movie, but by then I’ve almost lost all the interest. Also, entymologist Paolo/Paul Fosatti running from the murder scene to his house to call the police…needed to browse through the phonebook to find the number? Not even locking the door? And Laura (Anna Maria Rosati) going in the night straight to Simon (Claudio Camaso), without not being there before? Well, logic was not present that much (not to mention Simon almost stoically handling the fact he’s got Filippo’s corpse in his boat, like why should I be bothered to call cops, right?)

That all would be still OK if not for the absolute WTF ending. I don’t know if Bava wanted to have fun at the expense of viewers, but for me, it was a lesson in how to kill your movie.

That being said, A Bay of Blood does have its place in the movie history. Being amongst the first (if not the first) of slasher movies, inspiring imitations of others, and its placing on the list of Video Nasties is more than enough to secure the position of cult classic. But as with many of these, it doesn’t mean it is good. For me, it haven’t lived to my expectations.

On top of it, I’ve seen the English dubbed version and if you want to watch this movie – stay the hell away from that one. It was just plainly terrible. Sometimes character speaks with no sound at all, something no sounds of music or noise, I was like…are my headphones not OK or what. Nope, it was the dubbing. Obviously, I’m not gonna re-watch it with the Italian soundtrack and subtitles, but just to heads up for those of you who might. Watch the original with subtitles.

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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