blood bath video cover
4 stars

" They came seeking pleasure,
they found death "

directed by: Mario Bava
starring: Isa Miranda, Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli

(back of video blurb):

       "The day a group of pleasure seeking teenagers wander into a deserted leisure centre coincides with the callous murder of the widow owner of the property. Her death is just the beginning of a blood bath."

choice dialogue:

"Yeah he's dead alright, but at least I eat my squid...
But I don't kill as a hobby- like you do...
Good lord Simon, you make me feel like a murderer!...
I'm not saying that Mr. Farsarde, but, if you kill for killings sake you become a monster!"

slash with panache?

        Yeah, great movie. An incredibly brutal film for its time (1971), which gave birth to the whole ‘serial-slaughter’ movies of the late seventies and early 80’s- FRIDAY 13TH is pretty much a loose, unofficial remake.FRIDAY THE 13TH even copied the knitwear!

       BLOODBATH isn’t a ‘thriller’ as such, it is more a back comedy; a gleeful and devilish one at that. ....The viewer is soon alerted to Bava’s mischievousness. The opening scene has an elderly, wheelchair bound woman murdered by an unseen assailant- a noose placed around her neck, wheels spinning as the chair topples over. The camera pans accross to the killer’s shoes and then up to the (mandatory) black leather gloves. Well, so far it sounds like so many countless other ‘gialli’- the sub-genre Bava literally created with his BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964). The viewer is then taken completely off guard. No sooner do we feel that we have been set up for an old fashioned ‘who-dunnit’, than Bava pans up to reveal the killers face! Still reeling from that, Bava delivers the double whammy by killing off the ‘killer’, within seconds, at the hands of a knife wielding (but this time anonymous) assailant. From this point it is clear that we are not in for an ‘everyday’ thriller. Bava further complicates things by ensuring there are no sympathetic characters in the film- Hitchcock, at least, provided a character for the audience to identify with. Every one of the characters is at least annoying in some way, if not down right detestable. BLOODBATH’s central idea is simplicity itself. A desirable, lakeside, plot of land is a veritable goldmine. Whoever owns it would make a great deal of money. Unfortunately there are quite a few people who have quite a lot at stake and it seems that ‘morality’ is an unknown eight letter word down at the bay. Bava seems much more interested in showing the visceral thrills of the murders themselves than generating any run-of-the-mill clichés associated with the genre at that time. (And, of course, that makes it all the more interesting.) Bava also brings, an unprecedented, level of voyeurism to the murder scenes. They are really graphic; machetes in face, decapitation by axe, throats slit- all in loving detail. (Although it must be said, BLOODBATH is often heavily censored (if available at all)- it was banned for years in the UK- make sure you get an uncut print if you want all the gory thrills!). In fact, Bava could arguably be crowned the ‘God Father’ of gore. As John Martin says in his excellent book :"THE SEDUCTION OF THE GULLIBLE- THE CURIOUS HISTORY OF THE BRITISH 'VIDEO NASTIES' PHENOMENON...."But for censorship and distribution hassles which dogged that film ,(BLACK SUNDAY(1960)) Bava- not Herschell Gordon Lewis- would have been recognised as the guy who kicked off the whole gore ball-game.".

       BLOODBATH is often compared, and with good reason, to Sean Cunningham’s FRIDAY 13TH (1980). The lake in Bava’s film, around which most of the action is set, is a dead ringer for Camp Crystal Lake.FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2', 'homage' to Bava's film But the most striking similarities come when the death scenes are compared- most notably (from FRIDAY 13TH: PART 2), the scene where two lovers are impaled on a single spear ,whilst in the throes of passion, is almost identical to one in BLOODBATH. Not to mention the old sharp implement in the face routine- the one in Bava’s film is, incredibly, more graphic than the axe in the face of the counsellor in Cunningham’s film (and gore fans may like to take note it lasts about three times as long and you see said implement yanked from dead teenager). Yep, that’s right- dead teenagers. Four of them. They turn up in a lime coloured beach buggy for some funky dancin’ and a little lovin’- only to find that they’d gatecrashed the wrong party. Ending up meeting grisly ends. Deja vu indeed. Heck!- even one of the characters has ,practically, the same sweater as Mrs. Voorhees!

       BLOODBATH is a gore fest, sure, but it is a whole lot more. Bava made his name making gothic shockers like BLACK SUNDAY(1960) and KILL, BABY, KILL (1966) (as well as trying his hand at 'sand ‘n’ sandal' epics and spy dramas- and believe me, practically anything Bava touched turned to gold). BLOODBATH reveals Bava’s wicked sense of humour as well as showing his uncanny talent at portraying the macabre. The scene where a squid slivers and envelopes a drowned man’s face is, once seen, never forgotten!.... Perhaps not his best film, but a masterpiece by anyone else’s standards.

       BLOODBATH was originally promoted as LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT: PART 2 in the US, to cash in on the success of Wes Craven’s seminal ‘nasty’. (This was not the only time Bava’s work was belittled in this way, his (fantastic) movie SHOCK (1977) was promoted in the US as a sequel to the Italian EXORCIST rip-off BEYOND THE DOOR (aka CHI SEI?)(1974). Although Bava’s film had nothing to do with that one and was far and away the superior film). BLOODBATH was also banned in the UK as a ‘video-nasty’ during the early 80’s, but has been re-released by ‘Redemption’ recently in its widescreen format- but I expect it received at least a few seconds cuts at the hands of the BBFC.

BODYCOUNT 13  bodycount!   female:6 / male:7

       1) Elderly woman hung from a noose
       2) Middle aged male stabbed to death
       3) Female teen hacked to death with machete
       4) Male teen has machete part his face (G.O.R.Y!)
       5&6) Male and female teen impaled on spear whilst having sex
       7) Male strangled with telephone wire
       8) Female decapitated with axe
       9) Female strangled
       10) Male impaled on spear
       11) Male stabbed to death
       12&13) Male and female shot with shotgun

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