Jan 18, 2010

Posted in 1950s & 1960s, European Films, Films Categories, Italy, James, Reviewers

Operazione Paura (Kill Baby . . . Kill) [1966]

Operazione Paura (Kill Baby . . . Kill) [1966]

Directed by Italian maestro of horror Mario Bava, reds and blues set the mood for this Gothic giallo rife with superstition and murder. Dr. Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) is summoned to a village to perform an autopsy on a woman who has bleed to death under suspicious circumstances.

There he meets Monica ( Erika Blanc) who aids in the autopsy that noone wants to have happen. The ghost of Melissa Graps is haunting this village and anyone who see’s her ghost, kills themselves. As Dr. Eswai tries to figure out what is happening questions surface. Like, who is Monica and how is she connected to Melissa.

Melissa Graps, the seven year old daughter of Baroness Graps (Giovanna Galletti) bled to death due too an accident the villagers perpetrated by not paying attention as the little girl chased after her ball and now she’s out for revenge. When you see her ghost you are marked for death. A side note, scenes of the ball falling down stairs as we hear Melissa chasing after it maybe familiar as Mario Bava’s son, Lamberto Bava used similar sequences in his film A Blade in the Dark.

Ruth, the sorceress (Fabienne Dali) has taken it upon herself to save the dead from becoming vengeful ghosts by placing a coin in the heart of each victim, “Only with money in the heart will one who suffers a violent death ever rest in peace,” but when her love Karl (Luciano Catenacci) is killed by Melissa, Ruth gets her revenge.

Kill Baby . . . Kill is quite probably my favorite film by Mario Bava next to Blood and Black Lace and contains some of the best sequences ever committed to celluloid. There is a wonderful POV shot of a girl swinging on a swing, it is as if we are the girl on the swing. But suddenly the camera stops and we see a girl on a swing cut into frame. It is as if Bava is playing with our perceptions. My favorite scene is one where Paul begins chasing after Monica who has disappeared in the Baroness’ home. He runs into a room and then exits it only to find himself in the same room and he does this over and over again until he catches up with himself stopping only to touch his own, other-self’s shoulder.

I think this is a great example of the Gothic thriller and I think Mario Bava’s influence can be seen almost anywhere by other directors like Martin Scorsese.

This review is based on the Uncut STOMP release. There are not many special features to speak of save a theatrical trailer. The only thing that is sorely missed here is a commentary or liner notes by Tim Lucas. There are other versions of this film available, for instance it can be found in The Mario Bava Collection, Volume 1 released, I believe by Anchor Bay Entertainment.

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