A BAY OF BLOOD (1971) (Blu-ray)
Director: Mario Bava
Kino Lorber

Mario Bava spearheaded the "body count" genre with 1964's BLOOD AND BLACK LACE, dabbled in it again in 1970's FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON, and then came full circle with this groundbreaking achievement. Known under more alternative titles than any other Bava effort (THE ECOLOGY OF THE MURDER, CARNAGE, TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE, etc.), with its inventive and gross depictions of murder, BAY OF BLOOD (best known in the U.S as TWITCH, its title of choice by many) is one of the most innovative splatter films of all time. The maestro’s most visceral effort now makes its way to Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber.

In the hauntingly atmospheric opening, an elderly countess confined to a wheelchair roams around her lonely abode on a very rainy night. She is ingeniously hung to death from the seat of her wheelchair, and her assailant is quickly identified onscreen. Then in a quick turn, someone else stabs him to death. It turns out that he was the countess' husband, and his body is now missing. It seems that the countess owns a large, remote bay that she refused to sell, and her murder culminates with the gluttonous efforts of the greedy people who want a piece of the pie, especially a couple played by French beauty Claudine Auger (THUNDERBALL) and the late Luigi Pistilli (FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE). What ensues is one murder after the other and when a quartet of partying youngsters drop by, they're slaughtered courtesy of Carlo Rambaldi's amazingly gross effects. The scantily clad Brigitte Skay (ZETA ONE) has her throat gauged with a machete while running for her life, and a frizzy haired guy gets the same machete down the middle of his face in the film's most unsettling incident. Another couple is jointly harpooned while making love on a mattress.

BAY OF BLOOD has an unconventional plot and the framework unwraps to allow nearly all of the film's unlikable main characters to be murder suspects (as several of them are openly revealed to be early on). Although it has most of the usual great Bava characteristics, this effort thrives on effective, gory murders most of which were later aped in a number of slasher films of the early 1980s (most notably FRIDAY THE 13TH PART II). The film was even re-released by its American distributor, Hallmark (who made it a drive-in smash), as a sequel to Wes Craven's LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT!

Previously released on DVD through Image Entertainment and then Anchor Bay (as part of the Mario Bava Collection Volume 2), Kino now presents BAY OF BLOOD in HD on Blu-ray and it’s one of the best looking of their Bava titles on the format thus far (and reportedly an improvement over the Arrow UK Blu-ray). The film has been presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 aspect ratio in a stunning 1080p transfer with incredibly sharp detail and vivid colors throughout (blood reds truly stand out here). The English language mono track is an improvement over the previous Anchor Bay DVD (and of course the older Image disc which was a total audio mess) with dialogue music and sound effects having a nice balance.

Before Anchor Bay released BAY OF BLOOD on DVD a few years ago, early press reports promised a separate Italian language version of the film, but it never materialized on that disc. Thankfully, Kino has included that version, which was actually shot in Italian with only several scenes being identical to what can be found in the English version. It is presented in standard definition and of course doesn’t look quite as good as the HD English presentation, but it’s interesting to see and compare the two (Tim Lucas can better explain the subtle differences in his commentary). The Lucas commentary has been picked up from the Anchor Bay and he offers another fun and interesting commentary which includes a lot of welcomed quotes and anecdotes (he caught the film at a drive-in in the early 1970s during the heyday of Hallmark Releasing). Rounding out the extras are the rather boring international trailer (under the CARNAGE title) and trailers for other Bava titles available on Blu-ray from Kino. (George R. Reis)