Plot: What’s it about?
I have recently extolled the virtues of Arrow Video’s releases, but if you missed it, long story short – Arrow Video releases off-beat often overlooked films that are on the fringe of art and schlock. Certain people, myself included, find that they tend to receive as much enjoyment from films of this nature as watching art house films. I see the benefit in both art house and grind house. That is why Arrow vVideo is quickly becoming my go-to distributor of films, and why I purchased a copy of Bay of Blood.
Bay of Blood is notable for a few reasons. It is directed by Mario Bava, a somewhat infamous grind house director known for Danger! Diabolik which inspired the Beastie Boys’ Body Movin’ video, and for directing Blood and Black Lace which helped inspire the Giallo films. The second reason the film is notable is for its impact on the teenage slasher genre. It was one of the primary influences for films like Friday the 13th, and one sequence of the film is completely duplicated in Friday the 13th Part II. Basically, if you hate slasher films and cheesy Italian horror films, this is probably not going to be your cup of tea.
The story begins near a bay. A rich countess who owns some land around the bay is killed at the start of the film. Then her murderer is killed by somebody else. A group of teenagers decide to come party at the bay, but a murderer has other plans for them. Meanwhile, residents and out of towners are fighting over who will inherit the Countess’s land, as the body count rises.
I found it incredibly hard to write out a plot synopsis without giving away some of the plot points. The story is actually pretty solid and surprised me at numerous points. As corny as some of the film was, the plot underneath it never failed to be interesting and quirky. The final scenes of the film in particular are great and elevate the film in my opinion. If you watch it, you will know exactly to what I am referring.
The acting in the film is nothing special. The actors do a decent job, with a pretty good showing by Claudio Camaso, Gian Maria Volonte’s brother who would go on to commit a murder and commit suicide a few years later. The death scenes are not overly graphic and I can not imagine that anybody would find the film very scary. That may detract from the film for some viewers, but didn’t bother me really. Overall, the film is one that I would watch again with a close buddy to get a few laughs and comment on some of the crazier aspects of the film. If this type of film is your thing, then you will probably enjoy Bay of Blood.
Video: How’s it look?
Arrow Video did a pretty solid job on the transfer of the film using an MPEG 4 AVC codec of a new 2K restoration. The transfer looks pretty good, and occasionally looks really good. There are a few small problems with the transfer, leading to a bit of a soft look. That said, I was happy with this release. It may not be as beautiful as a Criterion collection release, but for a release for a relatively small fan base, I appreciate all the steps that Arrow Video took. Also, the film itself may have just been fairly soft to begin with. One caveat: they only did a new transfer of the English Language dubbed version, leaving the original Italian version with an inferior transfer. This was a bit of a let down.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The audio treatment of Bay of Blood was decent, but not great. Being a LPCM 2.0 track, it can be expected that range is severely limited. Unfortunately, they only did a full transfer of the English Dubbed version! The English dubbed version, quite honestly, sounds like a dopey English dubbed version sounds – bad. There are long periods of silence and other design flaws caused by their reliance on the dubbed version. In order to watch the Italian language version, you sacrifice the visual presentation. This was a big issue for me, because I prefer to watch films in their native language. That doesn’t mean that the dubbed version doesn’t have a certain charm, but I would have liked to have had the option.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Theatrical Trailers – Commentary by Edgar Wright- funny and worth watching
- Argento!Bava!Fulci! The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti – a half hour long interview with the film writer who collaborated with all three of the listed directors. This was really interesting and gave some good insight into how these films were produced and how these men worked.
- Joe Dante on Mario Bava – a solid chat with the director of The Burbs about his love for Bava and grind house films.
- Shooting a Spaghetti Splatter Classic: cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia on Bay of Blood – another solid half hour piece on Bava and the film through his collaborator and assistant cameraman.
- Alternate Italian Cut of The Film – if this had been presented with a new transfer this disk would have received an extra half point, but this was so disappointing that the features lost a point instead. Sacrifice visual quality to watch the Italian version, sacrifice audio quality for the English dub. This is a missed opportunity for sure.
- Audio Commentary– A very informative commentary track by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark.
The Bottom Line
Bay of Blood is one funny, messy, little piece of exploitative Eurotrash cinema. Arrow Video have provided a solid, if somewhat aggravating, transfer for fans of the films. As with most Arrow Video releases,I would recommend renting it before a purchase to make sure it appeals to you if you have not seen the film. If you are a fan of the film, this edition should make you very happy with such great special features. I just really wish they had given the full treatment to the Italian language version!