A Bay of Blood

1971 | dir: Mario Bava | 1h 25m

Inspired by my latest project to follow along with a horror podcast focusing on the history of slasher films, I ended up watching A Bay of Blood on a Sunday evening with popcorn in hand and an eagerness to focus on a foreign film; with subtitles, I find the temptation to look at my phone significantly reduced and I swear the forced focus enhances my experience (akin to watching a film in the theatre, really). With a slew of Argento films under my belt by now, I was excited that I would be watching my first Mario Bava film, but I left a bit disappointed. This is a good movie, without a doubt, but the pacing feels inconsistent, and I honestly found things a bit confusing. When the slashing starts, it really rolls, but there are long periods of inactivity, with the climax of the film petering out with an extraordinary amount of exposition. I'm sure the foreign names don't help as I tried to make sense of the explanation on what just happened (that is, the conclusion to who killed the heiress) but was pretty happy the film didn't overstay its welcome.

Score: 2.5 / 5 | IMDB Letterboxd

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

1970 | dir: Dario Argento | 1h 36m

I'm always enthralled with these giallo entries, yet I'm not sure if that's because they are good films, or that the genre is still fresh to me. After delving into Arrow Video's catalog, I've really fallen in love with these whodunnit mystery thrillers and Plumage did not disappoint. Credited as one of the earliest of the giallo genre, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage follows an American author who witnesses an attempted murder while living in Rome and goes on to throw himself fully into the investigation of who the assailant is. I may write a more in-depth piece on this for the site as there are many interesting things to discuss, including where this film sits in its influence on future entries in the genre, and the little takeaways that keep me smiling (e.g. Argento's insistence on dubbing all dialog, and the police's nonchalant attitude to letting a civilian becoming so involved with an active investigation). 

Score: 3.5 / 5 | IMDB Letterboxd

The New York Ripper

As I delve deeper into the world of horror movies of the 70s and 80s, I often skip across the surface of these famous Italian directors and producers. I was really impressed with Inferno and Pieces, and with that, I probably saw The New York Ripper on a list and managed to get my hands on it. I feel so dirty now. Gore is definitely a major factor in these films, but Ripper takes it a step further. The director, Lucio Fulci, takes New York and allows the city to breathe its dirty eighties breathe all over, not unlike what William Lustig's 1980 film Maniac. I thought it interesting that Maniac takes place, for the majority, in the dark, while Ripper embraces the daytime. They both showcase everyday places that you would find yourself and cranks the horror and gore to untold levels. This lit approach to the film leaves nothing to the imagination; it leaves nothing for you to hide yourself behind. You have no choice but to look away, as each murder escalates in intensity and terror.