Monday, December 14, 2009

Kill, Baby, Kill

Kill, Baby, Kill 1966
Director: Mario Bava
Writers: Mario Bava, Romano Migliorono and Roberto Natale
Starring Giacoma Rossi-Stuart, Erika Blanc, Fabienne Dali, Piero Lulli, Luciano Catenacci, Valeria Valeri and Micaela Esdra

Mario Bava is one of the undisputed masters of Italian horror and I am just beginning to delve into his long list of works. Kill, Baby, Kill is only the 4th film of his I have seen, the others are Planet of the Vampires, Shock and Black Sunday. The only film of those 3 that is better than Kill, Baby, Kill is Black Sunday. That one is till my favorite. This one though, is not far behind it, it is a great gothic film that reminds me a lot of many of the gothic romance novels I read when I was a teenager. The Gothic ambience that permeates the film is palatable and is as much a part of the film as the cast or the story. Without it, I do not think the film would be as powerful as it is. The film really conveys a feeling of thinly veiled menace throughout the entire film. As you are drawn into the film, the viewer is aware of the dangers that lurk around any corner and watch the proceedings with trepidation, awaiting when the next horror will unfold. It is a delight to watch and from the opening shot the viewer is mesmerized until the ending.
The plot basics are this, Dr. Eswai (Rossi-Stuart) is called into a small village to perform a autopsy on a young woman's by a Inspector of the town, Kruger (Lulli). Not long after he arrives Kruger dies and Eswa is helped with his investigation by Ruth (Dali), the village witch. It soon becomes clear, that the woman, Kruger and other woman have been killed by the ghost of a woman, Melissa (Valeri). A young girl, who is fed by the grieving hatred of her mother and exacts their revenge on the villagers who they see are at the fault of Melissa's death. This leads to Esawa and Monica (Blanc), a local nurse to be lured into a fatal confrontation with the spirit of the young girl and her grieving mother, but who will survive is the real question that must be answered.
This is a excellent film. Bava's direction is effortless in the way he presents the gothic mood and atmosphere that pervades throughout the entire film. Much of the deaths and terror in the film are more implied than shown and that really works in the film's benefit. The entire film has a haunting and eerie feel that never lets up till the finale. The script is quite good. It follows the plot points of many Gothic romances and this is a thing that the story does very well. The characters are not very drawn out, but stories like these are more about the plot and the atmosphere than characterizations and that is well evident with this script. The cast is very good, Rossi-Stuart is a very stalwart hero and one you would expect for this kind of film. Blanc is very convincing as the heaving bosom damsel in distress type and she performs this role very well. Dali is very mysterious as the witch and half the time you do not know where her loyalties lie. Valeri is very creepy as the little girl Melissa, she has a very "bad seed" quality to her performance that works really well. The SFX and effects are minimal and that is for the best, as this film is more about ramping up the atmosphere and not drowning the screen with gore and that works to its advantage. The score by Carlo Rustichelli is evocative and eerie and really helps accentuate the mood of the film. Without it, the film would not be nearly as effective as it is. This is a must see for horror fans and fans of the gothic horror film.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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