"Only murderers kill."
Wealthy industrialist George Stark (Teodoro Corrá) has invited friends to his remote island estate for a reunion and the group includes Professor Fritz Farrell (William Berger), who has just developed an innovative new formula for an industrial resin. But while the other guests fall over themselves to invest, Fritz isn't taking any offers. When the party becomes stranded on the island and people start turning up dead, it's clear that someone is willing to kill for the money or the formula – or both. Could it be the Professor's wife, Trudy (Ira Von Fürstenberg) who is having an affair with George's wife, Jill (Edith Meloni)? Or perhaps it's Nick Cheney (Maurice Poli) and his wife Marie (Edwige Fenech), who aren't averse to using their open relationship to get what they want. A killer is on the loose and no one is safe!
Five Dolls For an August Moon (not to be confused with Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll) is based on Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. It's a solid formula worthy of repetition but, alas, Mario Bava brings little innovation to his version. It's not particularly sexy or bloody and we seldom see the kills - just people discovering the bodies, which is sadly anticlimactic. None of the characters show any passion in their greed and, to be honest, the storyline with the secret formula is kind of dull. If you're interested in a much better version of the same story, I recommend Nine Guests For a Crime. What Five Dolls does have, though, is style to burn. The clothes and the sets and the swanky modern opulence of the movie are undeniable. I like to think of Five Dolls, with its large cast and complex criss-cross of motives as Bava's warmup for his next film, the much better Bay of Blood.
- This movie was released in Italy on Valentine's Day 1970.
- Rumor has it that the production was so rushed that Bava started shooting three days after agreeing to direct. The whole shoot took 19 days.
- This was Edwige Fenech's first giallo.
Perhaps the coolest thing in the movie is that the guests decide to store the dead bodies in the kitchen's meat freezer. So we're repeatedly treated to the sight of bloody bodies in plastic bags slowly filling up the crowded little room over the course of the film.
With all the similar-looking faces and a lack of contrasting characterization, it gets a little confusing telling people apart. Adding to the confusion: there's a character called Jack and a different character called Jaques.
Pentathol bullets? Is that a thing? Is that even possible?
This is the real reason to watch the movie. Crazy costumes abound, with psychedelic gowns, foppish ascots, gold lamé bell-bottoms, and unbuttoned satin disco shirts billowing in the breeze. One of my favorites is this strange white bikini, modeled by Edwige Fenech.
Also, the beautiful cliff-side house itself, with sleek modern architecture contrasts nicely with its rocky surroundings.