Twitch of the Death Nerve | Chicago Reader

Twitch of the Death Nerve

84 minutes 1971

Mario Bava, the godfather of Italian horror, made a dramatic comeback in 1971 with this bloody black comedy about greed and the battle of the sexes. The first nine minutes transpire without a word of dialogue, as an ailing countess living in her estate on a bay is hanged by her husband, who's then stabbed to death by persons unknown. Their deaths set off a Shakespearean array of murder plots among three couples angling for control of the waterfront property, the women often goading the men into action. In a self-contained subplot two young couples spin onto the deserted estate grounds in their dune buggy looking to get laid, and are serially slaughtered, the graphic ripping and impaling eerily punctuated by shots from the killer's point of view. Though the sequence totals less than 20 minutes, its icy suspense and ritual punishment of casual sex would spawn an endless series of slasher movies in the 1980s. Also known as A Bay of Blood.

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