SciFridays: “Bay of Blood”

Baddie – Pretty much everyone.

Lesson – Estates are not just to be thrown around like candy. They’re serious business.

I broke tradition a little bit this week. SciFridays celebrates terrible, low-budget B-movies that usually have little to no merit other than entertainment value. Well, “Bay of Blood” is a little more complicated than that. First of all, it’s from the 70’s. Second of all, it’s directed by Mario Bava, who is kinda super important in slasher-film history. Thirdly, if you’ve see “Friday the 13th”, well, this is Jason’s father. The death scenes are in some cases very directly borrowed. In fact, most of them are.

Nuova Linea Cinematografica

A brief warning – while I’ll do my best not to give away too much about this film, there will be some spoilers in the below text.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty though, shall we? Earlier, you’ll notice I say the bad guy is ‘pretty much everyone’. That is because there are 11 murders and almost as many murderers in this movie. It’s very interesting to watch, because Bava doesn’t really let on that there’s more than one killer for a good while, and during the peak of the film it becomes a little confusing as to who is killing who, who’s still alive, etc.

The film opens with a countess being murdered, and as her killer gloats over his victory, he is promptly stabbed in the back. Then it takes a reallllly long time for anyone to die. There are college students involved, of course. Most of the film takes place on an abandoned estate, with the family of the deceased heiress (“Friday the 13th”, anyone?) doing a good bulk of the killing.  However, Bava does what a good slasher movie ought to do. He took a bunch of people with motivation and placed them in a scenario where murder isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility, and then he let them go.

Secondly, because I have a bit of hair/makeup/SFX experience, I have to talk about the SFX. There is some fantastic work in this film, especially considering it’s release date of 1971. The blood always has that kind of ‘too red’ chalky quality, but overall, every wound is realistic (minus a pot of boiling water, but I’m willing to let that go). There’s a bloated character dredged up from the bay, and the prop work is really very decent.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is a slasher film. It’s a beautifully shot, predominately well-executed and produced slasher film. It’s ridiculous at times. It plays with extremes of the human range, and it’s inventive and flamboyant and enjoyable. It’s from the 70’s, so it has a sizable amount of ‘goof’ factor, and some things do get lost when being reviewed by a 90’s child. However, “Bay of Blood” is a solid film.

It also has possibly the most hilariously awesome ending I’ve ever seen in a movie to date. An ending which spawned such great endings as “Blood Surf” or “MegaPiranha” or “Dinocroc”. If for nothing else, watch this movie for the end. I’m serious.

So if you’re in the mood to bone up on your horror history, or see a movie with the alternative title “Twitch of the Death Nerve”, or you just want to see some foolish college students get offed (because who doesn’t?) than I highly suggest “Bay of Blood”.

Nuova Linea Cinematografica

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