A Bay of Blood (1971)

A Bay of Blood (1971)

Film: Truly, in English speaking countries and outside of the fans of horror or cult cinema, the name of director Mario Bava, unjustly seems to be ignored.

Bava was the son of a filmmaker and started as a cinematographer, and was also adept at screenwriting and special effects, but really, as a director is where his talent lies. In his career he directed over almost 40, with genres including horror, fantasy, science fiction and comedy… even a movie based on a comics character (yes, Marvel didn’t do that first OR best), and many directors including Dario Argento, Tim Burton, Quentin Tarantino, Joe Dante, Lucia Fulci and others claim to have been influenced by his work.

This film, A Bay of Blood, aka Twitch of the Death Nerve, Carnage, Ecologia Del Delitto (and many others) tells the tale of a series of murders that take place by the titular Bay.

The worst haircut ever gets it’s due punishment

First, the disabled owner of the bay is found hanging in her house in what was a murder made to look like suicide, but almost immediately, her murderer is also dispatched by a mysterious assailant. These events lead to a series of murders that all appear to be a cover-up for a real estate scam and an inheritance issue that just seem to escalate.

This film is clearly one of the templates for the slasher movies that came ten years later in the eighties: really just a series of gory murders, intercut with some images of boobs/ butts and a barely incoherent story to link it all together.

Not sure about the rest of you, but I don’t really have a problem with that!

Clearly, Sean Cunningham was inspired by this scene

Honestly, the story is REALLY stupid and doesn’t feel at all like any attempt has been made for any type of legitimacy for the story, and it assumes the viewer has NO understanding of how police investigations go. One could never remake this film now as the perpetrators of the film left fingerprints everywhere and even a rock with a slight understanding of forensics would have the ‘mystery’ solved within minutes. Also, so many unnecessary scenes drag on for far too long, and characters whose back stories we really don’t need to know are over-explained to the point of slowing down the story.

I say all that but it the end it is still charming, and the scenes of violence, considering this came out in 1971, are quite shocking and occasionally sophisticated in their execution. Sometimes the victim’s death scenes are just dumb though… for example, Brunhilda is clearly still breathing after her demise… for them not to ring too true, but they are excusable as not much of it feels realistic at all.

Island of Death director Nick Mastorakis said (and I paraphrase) that in making his film that he asked members of his team to come up with a bunch of horrible ways to die, and a bunch of perversions and he wrote a script around those parameters: this feels like it was made similarly.

This film also boasts the worst haircut ever seen in the history of cinema. It’s a pseudo-Afro-mullet that looks like a fake artist tried to flock a motorcycle helmet. It’s both the most horrifying and funniest thing in this film.

Having said all that, this film has a weird endearing honesty about it that makes it a joy to watch, even if the final scene is one of the most ridiculous things you’ll ever see.

Score: ***1/2

Format: This film was reviewed with the Arrow films multiregion Bluray release from 2010. It is presented in a clear, but artefact-filled 1.85:1 image with a fairly decent mono audio track.

Score: ***

Extras: Oh boy, it’s a smorgasbord of extras on this disc… are smorgasbords Italian? Do I mean tapas? No that’s Spanish… Buffet? Whatever: the point is there’s heaps of extras!

The Italian Version of the Film, with or without subtitles is included in the extras.n

The Giallo Gems of Dardano Sacchetti is an interview with the story writer of A Bay of Blood, Sacchetti, and his experiences in the Italian/ giallo film scene, including working with a Bava on this film.

Joe Dante Remembers Twitch of the Death Nerve sees director/ film enthusiast Joe Dante talk about Bava and his reception in America.

Shooting a Spaghetti Classic looks at how A Bay of Blood was shot through the eyes of assistant cameraman Gianlorenzo Battaglia.

There are also two Trailers from Hell narrated by Shaun of the Dead director, Edgar Wright, which are both for A Bay of Blood, but under two of its other names, Carnage and Twitch of the Death Nerve.

Finally there are two radio spots for the film.

Also, the review edition is the Arrow Films release from about 2010 and it has a choice of 4 different covers, a poster and a booklet about the film by Jay Slater.

Score: ****

WISIA: It’s kitschy and cute, and gory as hell! It’ll get watched again, for sure!

The Cheerleaders (1973) Review

One from the to watch pile…
The Cheerleaders (1973)

The cover of the UK Arrowdrome DVD release


Film: The teen sex comedy was a huge thing in the 80s, and I reckon as a teenager I saw most of them, which were basically stupid jokes mixed with hot half-naked girls in a soft-porn environment. 

As a teen in those days it was hard to get your hands on prom so this was as close as you could get… you kids have it so easy these days.

The film, The Cheerleaders, from 1973, clearly inspired by the films of Russ Meyer, were personably an inspiration to those eighties films and there is a lot of the bare bones of them in this. 

Written and directed by Paul Glickler, this film was also a clear influence on 1978’s Debbie Does Dallas not so much plot-wise, but certainly with the environment and the over-sexed teenaged girls.

The Cheerleaders of Amorosa High need a new cheerleader to make up their squad, seeing as how one of them has ended up pregnant. Now these Cheerleaders are, well, somewhat slutty, and so the head (heehee, ‘head’) cheerleader Claudia (Denise Dillaway), in cahoots with the ladies physical education teacher, decide to get a virgin to be their replacement so they don’t have that problem of pregnancy flare up again.

Claudia (Denise Dillaway) is concerned about something over there.


The problem is Jeannie (Stephanie Fondue) is desperate to ‘lose her cherry’ and the rest of the team want her too as well… and she does! Very soon the team are caught up in a match rigging exercise where their team are tired out by a massive orgy organised by an unscrupulous crook, but to make things even the Cheerleaders kidnap all the opposing team and proceed to have their way with each and every one.

Jeannie (Stephanie Fondue) does her best Jan Brady impression


The acting is terrible and the jokes are sophomoric at best, but it has a weird charm to it, which honestly might just be due to its age, rather than actual quality… the fact I love 80s teen sex comedies probably play into that as well. Heaps of ‘ nice balls’ and businesses with the names ‘Beaver Wash ‘ (a car wash) styled jokes run riot. Its Carry On and Russ Meyer all mixed together.

The weird thing is the world in which this movie exists. All teenage girls are oversexed, men are dumb crooks, and every adult male is an ephebophile.

It’s fun and dumb and I reckon an absolute influence of the biggest teen sex comedy of the 80s, Porkys, but it doesn’t necessarily hold up like Porkys does.

Score: **1/2

The DVD menu screen for disc one


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was on the UK Arrow films release DVD, and was an ok image, but far from great. The films image is a 1.78:1 aspect and has heaps of artefacts and some streaks, but everything that needs to be seen, can be, so it’s not too detrimental to the viewing experience. The audio is in 2.0 stereo and is just fine.

Score: ***

Extras: This disc was one of Arrow Films’ ‘Arrowdrome” series of releases, and comes with a reversible cover, an Arrow Films catalogue and a booklet featuring an essay from Cinema Sewer legend, Robin Bougie.

There are two extras on disc one: the trailer and a radio spot for the film.

Disc two though, has the full feature length sequel Revenge of the Cheerleaders, and includes trailers, radio and TV spots for the film. Make sure you watch this one too as it does feature Cheryl ‘Rainbeaux’ Smith, and a young David Hasselhoff as ‘Boner’.

Score: ****

WISIA: Once was enough for me.

Peripheral vision was at an all-time low in the early 70s.


Pin (1988) Review

One from the re watch pile…
Pin (1988)


Film: It’s no secret that my favourite films are from the 80s. I mainly loved the ones that were over-sequelised like the Nightmare on Elm Street series, or the Friday the 13ths series, but now and again I’d find a one-off that was totally off the wall, and amazing.

This film, Pin, is based on the novel by Andrew Neiderman with the script written by Sandor Stern, a man whom every horror fan knows better as the script-writer for The Amityville Horror. This film was also directed by Stern, and he proves himself to be an efficient director with a skill in. Retaking uncomfortable cinematic atmospheres.

Pin tells the story of the Linden family. Leon (David Hewlett) and Ursula (Cyndy Preston) have had an extraordinarily strict upbringing: their mother, Mrs Linden (Bronwen Mantel) is a OCD cleaning-obsessed fruitcake, and their father, a doctor (Terry O’Quinn) is a cold fish who educates his children using a life-sized, anatomically correct dummy, named Pin, and his skill with ventriloquism.


The problem is, Leon doesn’t have the emotional growth to understand that Pin isn’t real, and as he grows older, he develops a split-personality, his own and the other being Pin.

Unfortunately their parents die in a car accident, and without the good doctor there to temper Leon’s schizophrenia, ‘Pin’ becomes more and more dominant, which doesn’t really help in Ursula’s plan to lead a normal life, even though she does tend to allow Leon’s fragile state of mind to continue… but will it eventually become dangerous?

Stern has created a truly bizarre film with this one. There is an amazing oppressiveness whilst the parents are alive which is replaced by a constant feeling of uneasiness as Leon’s mental state devolves. Hewlett nails the performance of Leon which helps the unsettled mood as well.


One of the other super-creepy things about the film is the voice that is given to Pin. Jonathon Banks, who plays Mike Ehrmantraut in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, performs it with this slightly high-pitched calm that somehow suits the bizarre empty stare that the dummy has. It’s a weird thing when the dummy is one of those ‘visible man’ medical training dummies, but when it is painted, wigged and dressed by Leon it becomes something out of nightmares.

This is a well made, fascinating film, and I really recommend it to anyone who likes a good psychological horror film.

Score: ****1/2


Format: The reviewed copy of this film was the Arrow Films, region 2 DVD release which was produced under their ‘Arrowdrome’ line. The DVD runs for approximately 98 minutes and is presented in a slightly soft images 1.85:1 with a sufficient Stereo 2.0 audio.

Score: ***

Extras: Arrow presented this film with a reversable cover, the other being the original artwork from the 80s. This package also contains a booklet about the film which features an essay by Lee Gambin. The disc contains a trailer as well.

The disappointing thing about this disc is the cover offers a commentary, but there is no option to select it.

Score: **1/2

WISIA: I have liked this film for years and it gets a regular watching.