A Bay of Blood. 1971. Italy. Directed by Mario Bava. Screenplay by Mario Bava, Giuseppe Zaccariello, Filippo Ottoni. With Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Velonté, Laura Betti, Leopoldo Trieste, Brigitte Skay. In Italian; English subtitles. 84 min.
The slasher is born. Mario Bava’s A Bay of Blood (aka Twitch of the Death Nerve) is one of the most influential horror films, establishing many of the signifiers of the subgenre: black gloves, anonymous killer, reckless youth, and really deadly sharp objects. Widely considered Italy’s first giallo, A Bay of Blood features a group of greedy would-be inheritors trespassing on a secluded estate after its owner, a wealthy, wheelchair-bound countess, is mysteriously murdered. Bava’s gift for making macabre magic happen on screen comes alive in the film’s stylized kills, atmospheric mood, and cheeky ending. When the film was released in 1971 its gore landed it on the infamous Video Nasty list, and its influence (or, more accurately, imitation) can be seen in later American slashers, most notably Friday the 13th and, especially, Friday the 13th Part 2.