Mario Bava was probably the closest thing horror ever had to an Auteur. He’s also the godfather of the Giallo sub genre. He adapted an earth tone cinematography to many of his films, which created a dream like, sometimes even having a psychedelic effect. Throughout the 1960’s, he perfected this style with films such as Blood And Black Lace, Black Sabbath, and Kill, Baby, Kill.
It’s his 1971 film, Bay Of Blood however, that I regard as one of his most influential. This is the predecessor to the widely popular slasher craze of the 1980’s. Before Freddy and Jason, this is where it all began. This is a film that broke the mold, so to speak. It’s somewhat of a challenge to break down the entire plot of this one, like a lot of Giallo films. After all, half the fun of the murder mystery is reading it yourself.
The films’ story revolves around the murder of a wealthy countess, who owns a lakefront resort. She’s done in within the first few moments of the film by a mysterious black gloved killer. Bava, utilizing some of the motifs from his earlier Giallo films. What follows is a struggle involving an unsavory real estate developer, and his lover, to take control of the property. Dealing with the Countess’ rightful heiress, as well as her illegitimate son. This section of the story unfolds much like an Agatha Christie mystery. Poirot and Miss Marple not being part of the story.
Aside from this part of the story, there’s a bit of filler, so to speak. A group of hormone crazed teenagers break into the resort. Their goal is to do what most teenagers do, fornicate. Teenagers at a resort being killed off? Where have I seen that happen before? The element that you’ll find in almost every slasher film, is right here. Two of them are even impaled by a harpoon, while in bed with one another. Friday The 13th borrowed so much from this film, it’s almost laughable. I’ve always found it tragic, films such as that have become the stereotypical example of a horror film. Whereas this one sits on the back burner.
The villains do triumph in the end, and get the property. However, in a twist ending they’re done in by their own children. The cycle of violence comes full circle.