Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 23rd, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1971
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Franco Barberi, Mario Bava, Filippo Ottoni, Dardano Sacchetti, Giuseppe Zaccariello
Cast: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Camaso, Anna Maria Rosati, Chris Avram, Leopoldo Trieste, Laura Betti, Brigitte Skay, Isa Miranda, Paola Montenero, Guido Boccaccini, Roberto Bonanni, Giovanni Nuvoletti, Renato Cestiè, Nicoletta Elmi
BluRay released: December 20th, 2010
Approximate running times: 84 minutes (English Version), 85 minutes (Italian Version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £22.99
Synopsis: When a wealthy elderly woman refuses to sell her property by a lake. Those who are interested in acquiring the property are forced to take drastic measures. What ensues is a series of double crosses and bloodletting that all leads up to a unforgettable conclusion.
The one genre that Mario Bava will be forever linked with is the Giallo genre. His 1963 film, The Girl Who Knew Too Much is widely considered a forerunner to the aforementioned Giallo genre. After directing Danger: Diabolik, the most financially successful film of his career. Mario Bava should have been on top of the world. Instead he would retreat to the low budget productions that he was all too familiar with. And while there are many admires of his post Danger: Diabolik output. Most notably films like Lisa and the Devil and Rabid Dogs. His post 1960’s output is inconsistent and often marred by their anemic budgets. The one film from his post 1960’s output that has divided it’s audience the most is Bay of Blood.
Content wise, even though Bay of Blood draws heavily from the giallo genre. One most not overlook its role as a precursor to the Slasher film. Which rose to prominence in America in the early 1980’s. In fact two murders from Bay of Blood would be recreated, almost shot for shot in Friday the 13th Part 2. Structure wise Bay of Blood is very loosely constructed plot that is held together by its numerous murder set pieces. Back stories are only glossed over and several characters are knocked off shortly after their arrivals. And while there are certainly many interpretations that can be draw from the story at hand. Many of which fall under the seven deadly sins. It is easy to get seduced by the gory murder set pieces and not connect with any of this film’s deeper subtext.
More than any of his contemporaries, Mario Bava could create something out of nothing. For example in Bay of Blood he used camera trickery to make the sparse amount of trees located around the main location look like Forest. Another area where his ingenuity came into play was for most of the film’s tracking shots he used child’s wagon. Even though Mario Bava worked in a wide range of genres and often with limited resources. The one area that time and again is unmistakably Mario Bava are his visuals.
Another areas where this film excels are the performance wise the cast are all extremely good in their respective roles. There are several recognizable names in the cast like Claudine Auger (Thunderball), Luigi Pistilli (Your Vice is a Closed Room and Only I Have a Key), Laura Betti (Hatchet for the Honeymoon) and Leopoldo Trieste (The White Sheik). Another performance of note is Claudio Volonté (Brother of actor Gian Maria Volonté) in the role of Simon, a fisherman who is related to the elderly lady who owns the property by the lake.
Bay of Blood comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. Both versions (English and Italian language) are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The English language version has the better looking transfer of the two. Black levels are consistent and there is an amazing amount of detail in every frame. There are no problems with compression and DNR is kept in check. The one area this transfer has sparked the most debate is its color palette. And while it does look different when compared to other releases of Bay of Blood. Most notably the Anchor Bay DVD release. These differences are no at dire as some have made them out to be. The transfer for the Italian language version (which has been included as an extra for this release) does not fare as well as colors look muted and image often lacks detail.
Each version (English and Italian language) come with one audio option, a DTS-HD Mono mix in English and Italian respectively. The English audio mix sounds clean with only minimal background noise. It should be noted that the dialog often sounds subdued, while the music and effects sound robust. The Italian audio mixes fares better with dialog as it consistently comes through clearer than it does on the English language counterpart. For this audio track it should be noted that there are some mild instances of distortion. Removable English subtitles are available for both versions.
Extras for this release include two radio spots, two trailers, one under the title Carnage (3 minutes 56 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen), the other under the title Twitch of a Death Nerve (1 minute 17 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen). Both of these trailer features comments about them from director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead). Other extras include three interviews, the first interview is with screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti (33 minutes 9 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles), the second interview is with director Joe Dante (12 minutes 24 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen) and the third interview is with assistant cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia (21 minutes 16 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles). The weakest of the three interviews is the one with Joe Dante, who has very little to say about Bay of Blood. While the interviews with Dardano Sacchetti and Gianlorenzo Battaglia are informative segments that not only touch upon both of their experiences working on Bay of Blood. Their interviews also cover various other projects that they worked on. Rounding out the extras is the Italian version of the film (84 minutes 53 seconds – 1080 Progressive Widescreen, in Italian with English subtitles) and a audio commentary with Mario Bava expert Tim Lucas. Also included with this release are a 4 Panel reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned art work, Double-sided fold-out poster and a booklet with liner notes about the film. Overall Arrow Video have put together a strong release that comes with two versions of the film and a wealth of extras.
Note: The title card and the first two screenshots are taken from the English language version. The last two screenshots are taken from the Italian language version.