They said it couldn’t be done. A fifth year of 31 Days of Horror? 31 more terror, gore and shower scene-filled movies worth highlighting? But Rejects always say die and never back away from a challenge, so we’ve rounded up the horror fans among us and put together another month’s worth of genre fun. Enjoy!
Also known as Operation Fear, Curse of the Living Dead, Don’t Walk in the Park and many other titles, this Mario Bava flick tells the story of a small Carpathian village plagued by a series of bloody murders where the victim is left with a gold coin in her heart. Will the scientific-minded Dr. Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) survive a supernatural test? Is the town witch (Fabienne Dali) helping or is she behind the murders? What lies at the mysterious Graps Estate?
And which hut does Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters 2 live in?
So, so many to choose from. This might be Bava’s greatest achievement, and he doesn’t hold out on the lush production design or the trippy camera tricks. Early on in the film, the perspective fluidly mimics the motion of being on a swing set, exaggerating the look by zooming in as we fly out. The small adventure also serves a purpose, as we see a ghostly child come down to earth on a swing just as we do. But creative visuals aside, the true killer scene comes when the good doctor finds himself trapped inside the Graps Estate, chasing down a madman who is rushing from room to room. As the chase intensifies, it becomes wholly disorienting as the two men seem to be running continuously in and out of the same room on loop.
The speed of the sequence forces the eyes to frantically look for small details that might prove these ornate bedrooms might be different, might have been built six to a row with adjoining doors by an insane Carpathian architect. But no. Of course they’re the same room that he’s impossibly running through, and of course the man he catches up with is himself with a plastered-on sinister grin.
As you can tell, Bava gets the red stuff pumping by attacking the mind – not by using brute force.
Light on the lust here. Everyone is gorgeously Italian, and Dali has bewitching eyes, but unless overdubbing gets you hot and bothered, this one’s a bit tame.
Same here. There’s an alleyway fight when two locals don’t take kindly to Dr. Eswai’s performing an autopsy on a murdered girl, and there’s a great strangling, but this movie is less the drunken brawler with itchy fists at the bar and more the possible sex offender staring at you from across the room while licking his lips. The fear isn’t from the punch, it’s from the possibility that he’ll start walking over to you.
Here’s where it gets good. But first, a disclaimer: if you read online comments that claimThe Exorcist was boring, then you probably won’t agree with this assessment (and probably can’t legally drive a car). Bava has crafted cinematic roofies here. His great skill is in making moments that just don’t seem quite right, and it’s that steady incremental off-balance shift that finally pushes you over the edge of your seat. The movie isn’t cheap jump scare after jump scare. It’s an acrobatic camera, a dangerous setting and the constant aching state of dread that make this such a terror-filled flick.
If there’s one negative criticism about Kill, Baby…Kill! it’s that it doesn’t have enough alternate titles. If there’s a second, it’s that Dr. Eswai is a decent everyman/entry point into the damned village, but he’s not as interesting to stick with, meaning that Bava didn’t inject him into the town quick enough. That’s a part of building up the atmosphere of uncertainty, but it also leads to some angst aimed right at the movie (instead of at the menacing villains and what murder may come). To that end, though, Bava does an excellent turn by giving us Ruth the Sorceress. She’s the real hero of the movie, and it’s at least a slight nod that the good doctor focuses on saving the damsel in distress (Erika Blanc) while Ruth hunts down the root of the evil and saves the entire town.