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A Bay of Blood (5 stars)

Mario Bava’s 1971 film one of the most influential and imitated horror films ever made

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A Bay of Blood

(18) 80min
(Arrow Video)

Out of all Arrow’s lush new DVD and Blu-ray issues of films from the American and Italian masters of horror, this is the one I have been looking forward to most. I was first introduced to Mario Bava’s 1971 film by friend, colleague and screenwriter Eddie Harrison, who at the time was working on the screenplay to his own (albeit Scottish) rural horror Dark Nature. The first time I watched A Bay of Blood, I was drunk and I fell asleep. The second time, however, it was a revelation.

This gruesome, inventive and unrelenting horror about a killing spree that leads all the way back to old money and its inheritance seems to lay out the very foundations of the house upon which the modern day slasher flick is built on. After one sober viewing of Bava’s remarkable horror, old Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees’ exploits didn’t seem so sharp anymore. Even Australian Colin Eggleston’s brilliant 1978 mystery thriller Long Weekend (a personal favourite) suddenly looked like it owed Bava’s film a huge debt.

Harrison, a long time fan and student of the film, puts it best when he explains to me: ‘A Bay of Blood is, without doubt, one of the most influential and imitated horror films ever made, from Friday the 13th to Halloween. It’s pretty much the template for every slasher film ever made, but it also gave rise to the ecological thriller genre. It’s stylish, imaginative and darkly humorous, and like all of Bava’s work, deserves more recognition than it gets.’

He goes on to explain: ‘One of the key ideas behind Dark Nature was to pay tribute to great directors like Argento and Fulci. But the biggest influence was Bava; his notion of a whodunnit in which the environment is the real killer is a brilliant one. And the specific idea for Dark Nature came from a meeting in Rome with actress Laura Betti, who played the fortune teller in A Bay of Blood. If the references in Dark Nature help redirect horror fans to Bava’s work, that can only be a good thing.’

A ton of extras on both the DVD and Blu-ray editions a documentary about the giallo big three, collector’s booklet, Italian cut of film, Joe Dante on Bava, documentary about cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia, commentary by Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright and much more.

A Bay Of Blood, Mon 20 Dec (Arrow); Dark Nature (Region 1 only), out now.

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