We're back with the second installment in our new giallo spotlight series, moving backwards in time (from last week's spotlight on Lucio Fulci's Don't Torture a Duckling) to this landmark of both the giallo and slasher genres from legendary Italian director Mario Bava. Known alternately as Bay of Blood, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Blood Bath or Carnage (and probably a few more), this gory 1971 outing arrived seven years after Bava's incredible Blood and Black Lace, which itself set the tone for nearly all giallo films of the '60s and '70s. Bay is a less significant film in the grand scheme of things, but I think it's often unjustly overlooked, especially considering its huge influence on the body-count slasher flicks of the late '70s and early '80s.
The story is very simple compared to some of the more twisty giallo who-done-it plotlines, and revolves around an elderly countess whose greedy relatives are literally at each other's throats to seize inheritance of her valuable bayside property. The bodies pile up at an amazing rate, making it one of the most violent films in Bava's career. While the cinematography is lacking in comparison to the vivid primary colors of Blood and Black Lace or Black Sabbath, Bava and company make up for it in quantity of bloodletting; Bay of Blood is a turning point for giallo brutality, with graphic makeup effects by Oscar winner Carlo Rambaldi (who would ramp up the gore another notch for Dario Argento's giallo classic Deep Red four years later).
The outrageous murder set-pieces in this film are so memorable that some would be lifted almost shot-for-shot by future filmmakers. If you think the idea of a randy couple shish-kabobbed through the bed or a guy taking a machete to the skull originated in Friday the 13th Part 2, you haven't been doing your homework; Bava pulled off those kills a full decade earlier. The fish hook murders in I Know What You Did Last Summer? Bava's already been there. In a sense, the entire body-count slasher concept began with this film, three years before Bob Clark's Black Christmas, which is widely considered to be the template for the slasher genre... but that's another debate. Regardless of its significance in horror film history, Bay of Blood is a wet 'n' wild ride that never fails to entertain. Even its funky psychedelic trailer rocks!