I almost feel ashamed, but I hadn’t seen Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood until recently. As I get deeper into the history of horror cinema, this seems like an important one I should have seen sooner. Also known as Carnage, Twitch of the Death Nerve, The Odor of Flesh, Before the Fact, Ecology of Crime and Last House on the Left – Part II, this 1971 film was hugely influential on the slasher genre.
What’s interesting here isn’t so much the plot. Basically, all you need to know is that it’s a murder mystery with way more murder than mystery
— almost every character’s trying to kill somebody! No, what’s interesting is that this film relied extensively on bloodshed, and shocked horror audiences of the time. Bava’s previous movies tended to be more restrained, and more like traditional murder mysteries. Oddly enough, I’d even say the original Friday the 13th has more of a solid plot than A Bay of Blood!
On that note, one wonders if Friday was trying to improve on the formula somewhat. Either way, the influence can be detected. Hell, Friday the 13th‘s “Camp Blood” hardly sounds different from Bava’s Bay of Blood, does it? Also, feel free to watch this film and Friday the 13th Part ” back to back. You’ll definitely see an influence!
How Bloody is the Bay?
How bloody does the movie get? For starters, some of the actors barely have any screen time as living characters. Near the beginning, Isa Miranda and Giovanni Nuvoletti both die very quickly, before a solid story line is even established. For the plot, all we know is that some people stand to potentially inherit a murdered woman’s property.
Is all the bloodshed really worth it? Probably not. It’s not a bad place to live, but it’s hard to believe so many people would end up dead over a little beachfront house! In fact, it’s tough to even talk about this plot, because it’s just so death-centric.
Which is your Favorite Title?
Of all the titles I listed above, my favorite is probably Twitch of the Death Nerve. That one sounds a little more artsy-fartsy than some of the other ones. My second favorite would probably be Last House on the Left – Part II, simply because it’s ridiculous. Why that title? Wasn’t this movie released one year before Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left? Perhaps it was re-branding to cash in on Craven’s success(?).
Still, whatever you choose to call it, just remember: A slasher by any other name would be as bloody! This technically isn’t the bloodiest/goriest/trashiest slasher film I’ve ever seen. Still, it set the standard pretty high in terms of mindless brutality. So if you’re a fan of old-school cinematic violence, definitely check it out if you haven’t already. It also has a bizarre, stupid ending, as far as I’m concerned. I guess I should note that the film stars Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli and Laura Betti. It also features makeup effects by Carlo Rambaldi.
What are your thoughts on A Bay of Blood? Let us know in the comments!