"The sickle of death is about to strike!"
Countess Frederica Donati (Isa Miranda) is murdered by her husband... who is then immediately murdered by a shadowy figure. Bickering couple Renata (Claudine Auger) and Albert (Luigi Pistilli) are willing to do anything to make sure they inherit her estate, which includes the valuable land around a seaside bay. Environmentalist Paolo (Leopoldo Trieste), his Tarot-reading wife Anna (Laura Betti), Estate lawyer Frank Ventura (Chris Avram), Frank's girlfriend, Laura (Anna Maria Rosati), and the Countess's illegitimate son, Simon (Claudio Camaso, credited as Claudio Volonté) each have their own plans for that land and are ambitious enough to eliminate anyone in their way. Add a quartet of trespassing hippies into the mix and this land grab turns into a real bloodbath. It might take a few viewings to sort out who killed who and why.
Bay of Blood (or, if you prefer, Twitch of the Death Nerve) is a true pioneering film of horror cinema. It's clear to see how this film, with its inventive, gory kills and wooded setting inspired the original Friday the 13th – In fact, several murder scenes in Friday the 13th are shot-for-shot remakes from Bay of Blood. The hatchet-to-the-face effect was also famously mimicked in Day of the Dead. Take out the character motivations and simplify the story and you've just invented the slasher flick. Unfortunately, few slasher flicks are as lovingly shot, artfully composed, and feature the vivid, saturated colors of a classic Bava production.
- The film takes its form from the 1950 French film Le Ronde, but instead of a chain of lovers, Bay of Blood features a chain of murders.
- One of the re-release titles is Last House on the Left Part II, even though it has nothing to do with Wes Craven's film and was, in fact, made a year earlier. It's all part of an Italian tradition of trying to cash in on a successful film by means of a fake sequel. Neither Zombie 2, Beyond the Door 2, nor Troll 2 have anything to do with their namesakes.
- All of the wonderful tracking shots in this film were achieved by mounting the camera on a child's wagon.
- Roberto Rosselini was an uncredited 2nd unit director on this film.
- The one animal death listed above is the still-kicking beetle pinned to Paolo's insect board.
What the Hell Am I Watching?
There are quite a few inventive murder scenes (hippie-kabob, anyone?) but the best shock is seeing the Count's green, decomposing face with a live octopus crawling over it.
The true "What the hell am I watching" moment is the entire 20 minute segment with the hippies, starting with their arrival in a yellow dune buggy, like Hannah Barbara cartoon characters. Except for one kid's mild objections, they have no problem breaking into a house while the owner is away, lighting a fire, blasting the music, and making a giant mess.
Luigi Pistilli has a thing for turtlenecked fisherman sweaters, doesn't he? But, no, My favorite outfit is Anna's flowy gypsy robes, oversized jewelry, and curly shock of hair. She looks like Grace Slick playing the role of Helena Bonham Carter.