A Bay of Blood on Blu-ray

Wednesday, 22 December 2010 16:55

Originally released in way back in 1971, Mario Bava’s “A Bay of Blood” has reputedly been a massive influence on the slasher genre, especially the likes of “Friday the 13th”. They certainly have a lot in common, including a remote waterside location visited by care-free youngsters, a high body count, nerve-wracking tension and lashings of over-the-top gore. In the case of “Bay”, however, the plot is more elaborate and devious.

When disabled Countess Federica is horrifically strangled, the sham suicide sets in motion a sinister and unpredictable battle between family and locals for the rights to her sizeable bay-side property. Though it has rather gone to seed, plans are afoot to transform the cove into a hip new holiday resort. Standing in the way is a fiercely territorial entomologist, and everyone is desperate to snatch a piece of the pie. In common with the slasher genre, the cast is picked off in a variety of horrible and very bloody ways.

A Bay of Blood hits Blu-ray and DVDAs intimated above, there are a number of killers loose in the woods around the bay, and this multi-directional approach means the audience is kept guessing about who is stalking whom, and who is next up on the chopping block. Some of the deaths are clearly signposted but others arrive completely out of the blue, which also helps to keep the viewer glued to their TV set.

Bava quickly introduces a raft of characters and constantly flips between them both in the present and the past (towards the end), occasionally triggering slight confusion as to what is going on and why. This flaw does not really harm one’s appreciation of the movie, though, because ultimately it is a story about greed and death. The former invariably leads to the latter!

The gore is presented in typical ‘gaillo’ style, which is to say that characters buy the farm in a variety of nasty ways such as by having their throats slit, heads chopped off or torso’s speared through. It is enthusiastically delivered with buckets of bright red blood.

There are a couple of stand-out moments, firstly when a victim suddenly finds a machete embedded in their face, and secondly when a corpse washes up with an octopus languidly roaming over its head. This bizarre image left a lasting mark on me as cephalopods and their writhing tentacles really freak me out. It blatantly influenced the brand new and very lurid box art as well!

“A Bay of Blood” is otherwise known as “Carnage” (a catchy and appropriate if mildy unimaginative title), and also “Twitch of the Death Nerve”, which is truly inspired. Most of the victims do not get a chance to twitch for long, though, as the film delights in skipping merrily on to the next death scene.

The Blu-ray version features stunningly-detailed picture quality, and although there is occasionally a layer of ultra-fine grain, the general lack of blemishes and scratches is miraculous. The cinematography is frequently sumptuous, for example lingering invitingly on the lapping water at dusk, and creeping through the dense and varied undergrowth in pursuit of the next casualty. Stelvio Cipriani’s instrumental soundtrack is superb, moving deftly from serene melodies to stabbing piano motifs on the cusp of another execution.

Once again, Arrow Video has delivered a good selection of special features and in-box extras. Both formats come with at least one reversible sleeve, a poster and a collector’s booklet; there is a competent English dub on the English cut (which admittedly does suffer from a few brief dips in volume), as well as the original Italian mono audio on that and the original Italian cut. The on-disc features include:

  • Argento! Bava! Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti
  • Joe Dante on Mario Bava
  • Shooting a Spaghetti Splatter Classic: Cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia on “A Bay of Blood”
  • Audio discussion with Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark
  • “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 Spots (Blu-ray only)

Most of these extras are shot in crisp 1080p on the Blu-ray version. The standouts for me are the two humorous trailer commentaries by Edgar Wright, who evidently adores this movie and its novel advertising media! High Rise Productions do another fine, if very self-indulgent job with the title sequences.

“A Bay of Blood” (1971) is out now, courtesy of Arrow Video. The feature running time is 84 minutes approx, certificate ‘18’, and the film retails for £12.99 on DVD, £16.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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