Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kill, Baby... Kill (1966; Mario Bava)

I shall once again delve into the classics of cinema with one of Italy's finest, Mario Bava. While never achieving the same fan base in the United States as his son, Lamberto, later would, many would argue Mario Bava is well deserving of the same, if not more, attention that his son would later recieve.

In a small, nearly abandoned town a curse looms over all who still live there. When one of the younger women in the town mysteriously dies, a "big town" inspector and doctor are called in to find out what really happened. They remain troubled, however, as no one in the town is willing to give them any sort of answer. It quickly becomes apparent to them that the people living within the small town are incredibly superstitious, and if they want to try and figure out what happened to the woman they must try and find out the past of the cursed town.

While Kill, Baby... Kill treads a very familiar ground in ghost tales, it is driven so wonderfully by Bava's eye with the camera, the unsettling score, and the entire cast's performances that no new ground needs be broken to make it a perfectly competent piece of art. Through watching Bava's work, you can very clearly see where another, more modern master got his inspiration. The colors, score, and general atmosphere of the film show a clear relation to the finer works of Dario Argento.

Some of the imagery is absolutely wonderful. Certain sequences, such as a collage of images in a nightmare sequence, can be truly frightening at times. We have all seen the parade of long haired Japanese preteens popping out at us recently (with mixed results) but the ghost Melissa in this movie easily tops the list as one of the most genuinely terrifying.

Bava's use of the camera is inspiring to say the least. While certain scenes show off true potential, he carefully skirts around coming off as too over confident in his skills. When you put on top of that his truely awe inspiring use of colors you create a visually stunning piece. The only real problem was that the script could not keep up with the excellence of everything else that was treating our senses.

It's like having to eat the greatest bowl of ice cream you've ever had but running out of sprinkles half way through.

Score: 4/5

Notes: Cobwebs, Spiderwebs, and a Scary Little Boy

*IMDb the last note if you can't figure it out yourself*

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