Bay Of Blood, A (Kino Lorber)
Released by: Kino-Lorber
Released on: September 3, 2013.
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Camaso
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Also known as Carnage and Twitch Of The Death Nerve, Bava's Bay Of Blood is not only a really solid and fantastically bloody giallo, it's also one of the most influential horror films of the seventies. A huge influence on the slasher films that would follow in its wake, it may not have been as gory as the films H.G. Lewis was making around the same time but it certainly helped set the standard for stylish kills and beautifully macabre murder set pieces.
A wealthy old countess (Isa Miranda) trapped in her wheelchair is murdered one dark and gloomy night, and her killer is then murdered himself! It turns out the killer was the countess' husband and that the body is nowhere to be found. The motive for the slaying? The countess was the sole owner of a sizeable amount of land surrounding a large bay - someone wanted it, and she wouldn't sell. Shortly after her death, four teenagers show up in the area to party on the grounds once owned by the countess. They start off having a great time until slowly but surely someone begins slaughtering them one by one.
Noted as the film responsible for launching the slasher film craze and an undeniable influence on Sean Cunningham's Friday The 13th, the film is famous (or maybe notorious is a better word) for its creative kill scenes. Brigitte Skay returns after her stint in Four Times That Night to have her throat whacked with a machete. A man and a woman are punctured by a spear while having sex in the bedroom (a scene blatantly swiped later on in Friday The 13th Part 2) and one unlucky man gets a machete blow to the face. Certainly gorier than any other film Bava would make, Bay Of Blood's murder set pieces are aided considerably by the inventive special effects work of Carlo Rambaldi and an excellent and tense score from Selvio Cipriani.
Performances from Luigi Pistilli (from The Case Of The Scorpion's Tale) and Claudine Auger (who starred in Black Belly Of The Tarantula) stand out in the film and the script not only provides ample opportunity for creative bloodshed but also for a fair bit of genuine mystery and suspense. Bava plays the selfish and greedy characters off of one another nicely and it's interesting to watch as the killer eliminates almost everyone who gets in the way. The strong script, good performances, inventive camerawork and stylish cinematography all work alongside the impressive body count scenes to make for one of Bava's most enjoyable films.
The whole thing moves to a rather fantastic rhythm, with Bava’s skill behind the camera made all the more obvious by the way in which the director paces the picture and integrates it with the score. It’s edited quite masterfully, not quite wallowing in the gore the way later slasher pictures would but certainly showing us more than audiences of the day likely expected to see, but the film is cut really well. Each edit has a purpose, and each camera angle was obviously quite carefully planned and set up with a very specific intent. Bava’s renowned eye for detail helps this picture overcome its fairly basic (and at times almost pedestrian) script and stand out as a seminal horror film whose influence would reach far wider than anyone involved with it ever likely expected.
Bay Of Blood is presented in 1080p AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen with the quality of the American cut of the movie looking very nice indeed. Colors look nice and natural and detail is consistently impressive – you could count the hairs on Luigi Pistilli’s crazy eyebrows if you were so inclined. Texture in clothing also looks good, fibers are evident and you can even notice where some of the stitching pops out a little bit if you really watch for it. Shadow detail is solid and color reproduction seems accurate. Skin tones look nice and natural, not overly pink and never waxy. There aren’t any problems with edge enhancement and aside from some minor ringing evident in a couple of spots, this is a nicely authored disc of some impressively clean and crisp looking source material.
The only audio option for the feature is an English language LPCM 2.0 mono track. No issues here, the movie sounds quite good. There’s nice depth to the score, the levels are properly balanced and there are no issues with hiss or distortion to note. Dialogue is always easy to understand and all in all, the movie sounds just fine.
The Italian cut of the film is presented as an extra feature and includes a disclaimer noting that it was taken from an inferior source. The difference is in quality between the two cuts of the movie is painfully obvious (it’s not hard to see it in the screen caps below). The video quality is pretty messy here, there are compression artifacts and macroblocking problems, dark scenes are overly murky and colors are noticeably faded – to be fair, it’s never looked good on home video. The Italian cut of the film includes an Italian language LPCM 2.0 mono track with optional English subtitles.
The disc includes an audio commentary track from Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas overtop of the American cut of the film. Lucas does a fine job of explaining the history of the film as well as covering its influence. He discusses the Italian language version of the film, talks about his own personal experience seeing the film for the first time, and he discusses the production in a fair bit of detail providing criticism, trivia and anecdotal information. Never at a loss for words when discussing Bava, Lucas proves to be an amiable and interesting source of information. This track was ported over from the Anchor Bay release which was included in the Mario Bava Collection Volume 2 boxed set release and also appeared on the Blu-ray released by Arrow Video in the UK a few years ago.
Additionally we get a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Mario Bava releases available from Kino, menus and chapter selection.
The Final Word:
It would have been nice to see the Italian cut in better shape than it is here but outside of that, this is a good release. The transfer on the US cut of the movie is excellent and the audio is quite good too. Tim Lucas’ commentary from past releases has been carried over and the theatrical trailer is a fun piece of vintage promotion. As to the movie itself, it’s a classic and its influence on modern horror cinema cannot be overlooked.
Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps from the US cut!
And what about some caps from the Italian cut?