Bay of Blood

bayMario Bava has always been that Italian director false horror fans seem to overlook, instead latching onto Lucio Fluci for some damn reason, often without sufficient explanation.  Fulci, to his credit, was a rather prolific director with his hands over almost any genre you could think of, and today he has a cult following largely due to films like Zombi 2 or The Beyond.  Should you take a look at him with a critical eye, however, or perhaps better to say objective eye, you'll find, well, he sucks.  His usage of effects is poorly obvious, laughable at times, his attempts at unique camera angles and plot twists pathetic and trite, he's just the top scum layer of the barrel of insanity that contains far better and more interesting directors for these types of films.  The foam of the decomposing bile that makes up all those other guys.  Blow it off the top, and you start to see what's really down there.  Bava is one of those directors, though he receives quite a bit of attention for essentially starting the 'slasher' genre onto the path it needed to go.  Which brings us to Bay of Blood, aka like every other name you could think of including Twitch of the Death Nerve.  As to why this sort of thing occurs, all of this naming, who knows.  Most likely so later re-released versions weren't as obvious until you rented and/or purchased them.  At any rate, if you've seen any Gorgon videos before, which this is, you might go in with reservations, but don't, this one is worth whatever you pay to find it.

 

Bay of Blood was filmed using barely any budget, but unlike many films of this kind, it's hardly noticeable.  Once you realize some of the tricks they used, which you can easily find discussed online, such as creating the sense of a forest that didn't even exist on-site using some gathered branches and twigs, it's impressive.  Even more impressive are the horrifyingly realistic death scenes.  The billhook to the head, for example, is incredible for this time period, not because we like to see our deaths done right, but because it looks so damn real you almost wonder if it wasn't a snuff-film in disguise.  This is one of the features it's known for, and trust us, you'll see why.  So plenty of death.  Plenty of gratuitous nudity as well?  Actually, no, thankfully, though there is some, it is largely kept into the movement of the plot and really only occurs for a short amount of time.  The basic plot is simple, you have a group of teenagers/young adults who go to a bay that was once intended to be a resort but folded.  Now, there are a few interesting people living near it, including an entomologist with his New-Age wife, the rich woman who owns it with her husband, and a real-estate agent.  When the kids start dying, you at first wonder what in the world is happening, and then Bava begins to weave it all together.

 

No spoiler alert here, so don't be afraid, we're not going to even really hint at what's going on.  One of the cool things about Bay of Blood is how Bava so artfully transcends the typical 'slasher' plot.  No twists endings where it's the insane mother, no mentally retarded child hidden in the attic, none of that.  What Bava does instead is revolve the major plot line around what seems to be a simple killing spree with no real meaning, and then draws it all together using the variety of characters in the film.  It even has steps back in time and forwards to add further consistency, but done in a way that's highly unique, with, for example, dialog being carried over from a past event or even carried back.  This circular sort-of approach ends up working in the end, making Bay of Blood an enjoyable watch.  The octopus eating the corpse is one of the more interesting moments, and the only real complaint is the ending, which, though clearly to disturb your sense of process, will most likely leave you saying "huh?" at least once or twice.  However, other than this minor stumble, which really is almost its own form of art, Bava is at his best here with some awesome camera angles, respectable acting, wonderful usages of a thin budget, and plenty of interesting gore scenes.  A definite watch for the horror/gore fan, and any true fan of the slasher genre.

 

Bay of Blood
Gorgon Video
Score: 4.5 / 5

 

Written by Stanley Stepanic