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Bay of Blood (1971) film review

A Sunny Viewz film review.

By justine taylorPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 3 min read

Caution this contains spoilers.

The horror delight of the week is A Bay of Blood (1971) directed by Mario Bava, also known as Blood Bath, or Carnage, Twitch of the Death Nerve; it stars Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli and Claudio Volonte. Far before the release of his own feature films (he would go on to release 24), Mario Bava worked as a screenwriter, cinematographer, and special effects artist for years. Known as the 'Master of Italian Horror', and 'The Master of Macabre', his giallo thrillers, stylishly violent, have had a large impact on the slashers that we acclaim today.

This whodunit, kicks off with the murder of Countess Federica Donati who is attacked and strangled in her beautiful bayside mansion. The killer is immediately revealed to be her husband Filipo. In an unguarded moment attempting to stage his wife's "suicide", he too is attacked, stabbed to death and dumped in the bay. Thus a series of murders ensued. A greedy real estate agent and his lover's plot to take possession of the bay is soon spoiled after Filipo's disappearance, an estranged heir emerged, and curious locals became involved. The motive is clear, complete ownership of the bay, but who is responsible for the trail of bodies being left behind?

I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of slashers. As often as they are gory, they are predictable; not to mention stressful to look at, especially as the art of special effects have grown. But I'm finding myself to be a real fan of Bava's work the more of it I encounter. Giallo thrillers, his especially, have undoubtedly been a large source of inspiration for horror and slasher films in American cinema; the prime example being Friday the 13th, in which we can see a lot of its DNA here in A Bay of Blood, with Jason even copying a number of the films kills.

In between the creatively brutal murders, the film itself is enjoyable to look at, with it's rich colors and design, dramatic lighting, and captivating shots all which can be attributed to Bava's work in cinematography. Even more impressive of this low budget film was the special effects. Each of the thirteen kills was inventive, make-up artist Carol Rambaldi (later famed for his work on E.T. and King Kong) was enlisted to bring them to life and did he deliver. For an early 70's film the violence was graphic, one moment that will be engrained forever is the perfect match cut we get after a woman is beheaded with an axe.

A Bay of Blood ends in the exact manner that it began, with a double murder, and boy was it shock. As the killers revel in the days work, confident in their plots outcome, their son arrives and shoots them with a gun he thought was a toy. Assuming his parents are playing dead the young boy runs off with his sister, paving the way for a new generation of violence and fighting as all the rightful heirs to the bay are now dead. The talents of Bava and this team were ahead of their time.

To know me is to know that I am a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro's, and in an interview of his he spoke of Mario Bava being a great influence in his love for cinema, which led me on my discovery of his work. I have yet to be disappointed. (Word of advice: study your favorite's favorite!) If you are looking to explore giallo films and Italian cinema, Shudder currently has a great collection, to include a few of Bava's own. Youtube even has playlists of his films available for free.

A Bay of Blood is full of tension and wildly unexpected, beautiful and gory, the perfect thriller for a fall evening, check it out!


- Sunny

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About the Creator

justine taylor



Denver, CO

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