A Bay of Blood

05/26/2018 11:03

Film: A Bay of Blood (Reazione a catena)

Year: 1971

Director: Mario Bava

Writer: Mario Bava, Giuseppe Zaccariello and Filippo Ottoni

Starring: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli and Claudio Camaso



This was a film I had heard about from podcasts and made it a point that I needed to see in the near future. I have to say that I was intrigued even more to learn that this is considered to be one of the first giallo films that was made and helped to spark the slasher craze that hit the United States. This classic comes from Mario Bava, who is one of the best Italian directors in the genre of horror. The synopsis for this film is the murder of a wealthy heiress by her husband triggers a series of brutal killings in the surrounding area.

I do have to admit; early on I was confused by the story. It jumps right in and the death of the heiress Countess Federica (Isa Miranda), which I thought was good. I thought it was creative in the way to make it look like a suicide. To go with this though, we see the man who kills her and he is immediately stabbed to death. This is all in the first five minutes.

As the film progressed, it started to make sense and I ended up getting sucked into what is going on. This film isn’t a traditional giallo though. I don’t want to spoil anything here for those that have not seen this film, but I can say that it gets crazy. Everything starts to make a lot of sense as the story unfolds. What is going on is pretty logical, it is just something that would be extremely hard to get away with in this day and age. I do have to admit, I hated what happens at the end. At first I was on board, but there is one last thing that happens that really hurt it for me. I guess it kind of ties back in with the rest of the film, but I just wasn’t a fan.

The editing of the film definitely helps to figure out the confusing story. We move between multiple viewpoints and I like it. I think this partly contributes to the confusion early on, but does help to rectify it in the end. I also want to comment on the shots that Bava did were beautiful. He really did some interesting angles that gave the film a different perspective from more traditional directors.

I do have to admit that I thought the acting was good, but so many of the male characters looked the same that I got confused at times. The acting though was good in that I believed all of the characters and their motives for what they were doing. I do think that it was a little bit farfetched that some of these characters would go to the lengths that they did, but what is at stake, it is not out of the realm of possibility. I also liked that the traditional gender roles are ignored. There is a woman who convinces her male counterpart to man up to kill someone, because she would. I thought this was interesting for when the film was made. I thought the acting was pretty strong.

What really needs to be talked about was the effects for this film. They were done practically and looked real. After the first couple deaths, I was on board for that alone with how well they were done. The blood, deaths and the effects in general were just on point. There are a couple of times where someone is supposed to be dead, but we can see them breathing though. I will give the film a pass on this as I have seen this in similar films before.

As for the sound design, it really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt the film. I will come in on a neutral for that aspect of the film.

Now with that said, if you are a fan of giallos or slasher films, I would recommend giving this film a viewing as this film can be thanked for helping spark both genres. Friday the 13th series actually borrowed two of their deaths straight from this film and I found that to be interesting. Bava did a solid job with this film, despite its flaws. The story is a bit confusing, but I feel that it is still well written and the editing helps to clear it up. The acting is good in my opinion. The effects were great and I was thoroughly impressed. The score of the film didn’t stand out or hurt the film in my opinion. I think this is a good film and definitely worth a viewing, I will warn you that it is a bit bloody. If you are into that and like the genre, I think you’ll be on board like I was.


My Rating: 8 out of 10