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
DVD Release: Image Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.99
“I accept anything they give to me. I am too willing to accomodate any difficulty. This is not the way one creates masterpieces. Also, I’m too cheerful and the producers don’t like that: they want people who take things very seriously, and above all who take them seriously. But how can I?” – Mario Bava
Synopsis: George Stark (Teodoro Corrà), invites a group of swinging couples to his luxuriant private island for a weekend. Among the guests is research scientist Professor Farrell (William Berger), who has perfected a new formula for an industrial resin and his wife Trudy (Ira von Fürstenberg). The other three male guests are businessmen who are all interested in buy Farrell’s formula and even offer as much as one million dollars. At first everyone at the party is having a good time until the professor Farrell finds out the real reason he was invited. Even after Farrell’s dead body is found on the beach the other guests still try to buy his formula from his widow even though everyone who shows interest in the formula ends up dead. The body count rises as the film progresses and the dead bodies are stored in a meat locker wrapped in plastic. The film ends with an ironic twist that is a lot like the ending to Twitch of a Death Nerve.
Mario Bava’s previous film was the major studio production Danger: Diabolik his biggest success of his career. Bava would follow up Danger: Diabolik with the low key 5 Dolls for an August Moon is loosely based on Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, which is the source for several films. The producers hired Bava on a Saturday and began filming on Monday. Bava has said that Five Dolls of an August Moon is his worst film and that he only did it for the money. Bava injects dark humor into 5 Dolls for an August Moon as all the murders talk place out of the camera’s view and each victim is found in different place and often killed with different weapons.
Bava’s not only directed 5 Dolls for an August Moon he was also the films editor gone are dissolves and fades as Bava cuts abruptly from scene to scene as he totally disregards time. His use of color has always been one of his strongest attributes as a director and he use his locations to there fullest extent. My favorite moment in the film is when a assortment of clear marbles bounces down a spiral staircase only to roll into a bathtub containing a victim. Bava has a solid cast of Euro regulars including Edwige Fenech, Ira von Fürstenberg and Howard Ross even though with production he lacked resources. Piero Umiliani’s score captures the mood and it is hard to believe Bava considered 5 Dolls for an August Moon his worst film when he directed the terrible Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Bombs.
5 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 5 Dolls of 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. 5 Dolls for an August is the Bava film that divides his fans that either love it or hate it there is rarely any middle ground. 5 Dolls of an August Moon to be one of Bava’s more entertaining films and I wonder if Bava’s opinion about the film would have changed if he was still alive today? Images DVD gives this neglected film a second chance for those who didn’t like 5 Dolls for an August moon or haven’t seen it a chance to see this film in a better light.