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Blu-ray: A Bay of Blood (1971) by Mario Bava

There are not many directors that possess a better sense of style than Mario Bava. Whether you watch a sword and sandal movie like “Hercules in the Haunted World” (1961), a science fiction movie like ”Planet of the Vampires” (1965), a gothic horror like “Kill Baby Kill” (1966), a comic book adaptation like “Danger Diabolik” (1968) or a giallo like “A Bay of Blood” the stylishness always stands out. It is never without purpose though. Bava did not use style elements only for fun but also to keep his viewers interested, to surprise them and above all to create a certain atmosphere. In fact Mario Bava’s greatness could be explained by his ability to use “style to create mood”. His use of subjective camera increases tension. The different camera angles and wide angle lenses add to the sense of madness in the film. His fluid camera movements and the way scenes beautifully and surprisingly dissolve into each other keep viewers glued to the screen. All this is of course quite needed in the proto type slasher movie that “A Bay of Blood” is. After all, there is not much of a storyline to focus on. Basically the movie is about killing off a bunch of people in various inventive ways using a proprietorship of a lake (the Bay of Blood) as the MacGuffin. The movie has been criticised because of its extreme violence and lack of story but these critics totally missed the point. Enjoying a movie like this is all about feeling the brooding atmosphere while being entertained by the way Bava artfully works his audience.

The blu-ray itself is of good quality. The image of the English language version is quite film-like and the mono soundtrack is good. Of the extra features on the disc the superb commentary by Tim Lucas, author of “Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark”, stands out. Tim Lucas is extremely knowledgeable about Mario Bava and cinema in general. The commentary is scene specific while at the same time full of background information on the actors and the Italian movie scene of that period. The disc also contains the Italian version which is also in HD but of lesser quality. Still it is nice to have since Lucas refers to it in his commentary. Included is a booklet with an excellent essay by critic Jay Slater. All in all a great package and a blu-ray disc worth owning.

Frederick von Schtupp

Rating: 8 out of 10


Movie details:

Director: Mario Bava

Starring: Luigi Pistilli, Claudine Auger, Claudio Camasso, Anna Fossati, Isa Miranda, Chris Avram

Country: Italy

Year of release: 1971

Original title: Reazione a catena

Alternate title: Twitch of the Death Nerve


Edition details:

Released by: Arrow Video

Country: UK

Year of release: 2010

Disc: Dual layered blu-ray, MPEG4 AVC, 1080p

Region code: A, B, C

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Running time: 84 mins (english version), 85 mins (italian version)

Language: English, Italian

Subtitles: English (optional)

Special features: Audio commentary by Tim Lucas; Argento! Bava! Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti; Joe Dante on Mario Bava; Shooting a Spaghetti Splatter Classic:Cameraman Gianloranzo Battaglia on A Bay of Blood; A Bay of Blood Trailers: “Carnage” and “Twitch of the Death Nerve” with commentary by Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead; Twitch of the Death Nerve Radio Spot; Booklet with essay by Jay Slater; Double sided fold-out poster

Packaging: thick UK blu-ray case with slipcover