Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 3rd, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, February 14th, 1970
Director: Mario Bava
Writer: Mario di Nardo
Cast: William Berger, Ira von Fürstenberg, Teodoro Corrà, Edwige Fenech
DVD released: May 15th, 2001
Approximate running time: 78 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Image Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
Synopsis: A wealthy industrialist named Stark invites to his luxuriant private island for a weekend. Two business associates and a scientist named Farrell who has just perfected a new formula for an industrial resin. At first everyone at the party is having a good time until Farrell finds out the real reason he was invited. Then things quickly take a turn for the worse when the bodies start to pile up. And even after Farrell’s dead body is found on the beach. This does not deter those who are still alive from trying to buy his formula from his widow.
Five Dolls For An August Moon was directed by Mario Bava, whose other notable films include, Black Sunday, Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace, Danger: Diabolik and Rabid Dogs. Key collaborators onFive Dolls For An August Moon include, screenwriter Mario di Nardo (The Fifth Cord), cinematographer Antonio Rinaldi (Four Times that Night) and composer Piero Umiliani (Tropic of Cancer).
Mario Bava’s previous film was the major studio production Danger: Diabolik his biggest success of his career. He would follow upDanger: Diabolik with the low key Five Dolls For An August Moon. The screenplay for Five Dolls For An August Moon was adapted from the Agatha Christie story ‘Ten Little Indians’. And Bava would return to this source material for what is arguably his bloodiest film Bay of Blood.
The film basics keeps things moving along and pacing wise there are never any lulls along the way. Basically the main focus of the narrative are series of murders and said dead bodies which have been piling up have stored in a meat locker wrapped in plastic. This handling of the way the corpses have been disposed of perfectly surmises Bava’s subversive sense of humor in all things related to death. Another way Bava injects his dark sense of humor into this film includes the murder set pieces. With all the murders talk place out of the camera’s view and each victim is found in different place with weapons of opportunity.
Besides directing Five Dolls For An August Moon, Bava was also edited this film. Of course one of this film greatest strengths are this film’s visuals, especially the way Bava uses colors in this film. Most notably the color blue. My favorite moment in the film occurs when an assortment of clear marbles bounces down a spiral staircase only to roll into a bathtub containing a victim. What this film lacks in visceral carnage, it more than makes up for this in the way Bava reveals each corpse.
This film features a solid cast and performance wise they are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s most alluring performance coming from Edwige Fenech (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key, La Pretora). Other notable cast members include William Berger (Face to Face), Howard Ross (The Killer Reserved Nine Seats), Ira von Fürstenberg (Rasputin) and Ely Galleani (High Crime).
Five Dolls For An August Moon is released for the first time on home video in North America and is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio sadly Image Entertainment’s release hasn’t been Anamorphic Enhanced. Overall the quality of the transfer is very good with solid colors and grain is kept to a minimum. The films shows it age a time still, my only complaint is that the image is a little soft at times.
There are three audio options included on this DVD English and Italian Dolby Digital mono and also included is an isolated music track that highlights Piero Umiliani jazzy score. I wished more DVD included these isolated music tracks since a lot of these films soundtracks aren’t readily available. The English dubbed track suffers from some slight distortion while the Italian soundtrack is cleaning and sounds better. The English subtitles are easy to read and follow.
Extras include cast and crew bios, a poster with a still gallery, trailers for other titles in the Mario Bava collection from Image unfortunately the trailer for Five Dolls For An August Moon has not been included. The last extra comes in the form of printed liner notes that are comprehensive and informative from Tim Lucas author of the upcoming book Mario Bava: All The Colors of The Dark. Five Dolls For An August Moon is the Bava film that divides his fans that either love it or hate it there is rarely any middle ground. Overall Image Entertainment’s DVD gives Five Dolls For An August Moon its best release to date.