Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 6th, 2016
BluRay released: February 1st, 2016
Approximate running time: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Italian, LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH, English (Italian Language)
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
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 on Five 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 up Danger: 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 comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. The transfer for this film was remastered from original vault elements. Colors look vibrant, flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast levels remain strong throughout and details look crisp. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with three audio options, a LPCM mono mix in English, a LPCM mono mix in Italian and an isolated music & effects track also presented in LPCM mono. Both audio mixes are in great shape and there are no issues with distortion or background noise. Also dialog always comes through clearly and the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack are well represented.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 55 seconds), a documentary titled ‘Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre’ (60 minutes 7 seconds) and an audio commentary with Tim Lucas.
Topics discussed in ‘Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre’ include, his versatility as a filmmaker who worked in just about every genre, his origins as a filmmaker, his work as a cinematographer, his collaborations with filmmaker Riccardo Freda, his transition from cinematographer to director, his effortless ability to take something normal and make it horrific, his influence on what became the Giallo genre and filmmakers discuss Bava’s legacy as a filmmaker. This extra also discusses they majority of the film’s that he directed.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the look of the film and importance of the color blue, the cast and other information about other films that they appeared in, how the film was adapted from Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians, how this was the only film that Mario Bava edited, the films score and other production related topics.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible cover art and a thirty-two-page booklet with cast & crew info, an essay titled ‘The Exhilaratingly Inauthentic Five Dolls For An August Moon’ written by Glenn Kenny, a second essay titled ‘A Little bit of What You Fancy Does You Good’ written by Adrian Smith and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release.
Overall Five Dolls For An August Moon is another solid release from Arrow Video.