Sunday, January 29, 2017

Crowded Waters of Complicated Death

A countess is murdered by a man who is also murdered immediately after committing the deed in the opening scene of 1971's A Bay of Blood (Ecologia del delitto. A confusing, darkly funny, violent, and sensationally stylish Giallo film by Mario Bava, the film's puckish nihilism is off-set by a fascinating ingenuity.

After the murder, the film goes to a scene that feels like it comes straight from an Italian James Bond knock-off with handsome Frank Ventura (Chris Avram) and the beautiful Laura (Anna Maria Rosati) prematurely concluding a romantic evening because Frank has to leave on some business, leaving Laura horny and plaintive. Then the movie becomes about a group of teenagers breaking into a house at the titular bay to have sex and be disapproved of by the eyes of a murderer who's identity is not revealed yet.

In between is a scene between an amateur entomologist, Paolo (Leopoldo Trieste) and a man catching squid in the bay, Simon (Claudio Volonte). The two have an argument where Simon rebukes Paolo for killing bugs as a hobby while Simon only hunts squids for food, this dialogue seeming to have a deliberate superficiality while dead people keep turning up throughout the film. One of the teenagers, a beautiful German girl named Brunhilda (Brigitte Skay), comes across one corpse while skinny dipping in the bay.

And then, piled on top of all this, enters a young couple who leave their children in the trailer so they can work on their complicated plot to steal the Countess' inheritance which somehow all of these other plot threads are adding up to. It leads to one of the film's more impressive visuals as the woman, Renata (Claudine Auger), tears the tarp off Simon's boat to reveal a corpse with live squids crawling over it.

Most of the film is set in late afternoon and Bava, who was his own cinematographer, makes excellent use of long shadows and luridly contrasting blue and yellow. His artificial lighting is subtle enough that the actors are well lit when facing the shade without the effect coming off as obtrusively unnatural.

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