Twitch of the Death Nerve (1972)
By: David Michael Brown on January 25, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Stomp Visual (Australia). All Regions, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 84 minutes
The Movie
Director: Mario Bava
Starring: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Volonté, Laura Betti
Screenplay: Franco Barberi and Dardano Sachetti
Country: Italy
AKA: Bay of Blood; Reazione a catena; Bloodbath
Not content with inventing the Giallo thriller with Blood and Black Lace, Mario Bava way back in 1972 made a film that was to become the blueprint for every slasher film known to man. Twitch of the Death Nerve, also known as Bay of Blood, will seem strangely familiar to those readers who are huge fans of Friday the 13th, especially part two but then that sequels director Steve Miner has always declared that Bava's blood thirsty thriller was a major influence but watching Twitch of the Death Nerve again it looks more like wholesale stealing. Any of these murders sound familiar; a young man opens a door only to get a machete in the face, a fornicating couple are speared together. The murders are copied almost frame for frame.

The big difference between Bava and the directors who followed in his footsteps is obviously talent. Twitch of the Death Nerve looks fabulous. Knives glisten in the sunlight, everything is beautifully lit and despite the fact that he invented the "have sex, will die" style of filmmaking, the storyline to this film is a pitch-black whodunit that comments on greed, family and exactly how far people will go for a few lire. The films twisted finale is hilarious and will leave most viewers with a startled look of surprise. In fact the playful tone of the film has more in common with Danger Diabolik than his other horror films such as Shock! and Blood and Black Lace.

The performances are suitably twisted, Bond girl Claudia Auger of Thunderball fame exudes a sultry sexiness and the rest for cast seem happy to disrobe or die or both. The squid obsessed fisherman is a fantastically bizarre character, infact there are very few normal folk on display. Everyone we are introduced to has a hidden agenda led by greed and corruption. Bava's film is more a comment on what man will do man for money than a mere horror film.
The print on show could definitely use a bit more cleaning up. Dirt and speckles frequently appear but the luminous photography still sparkles. The image is still fairly sharp and clear but the red's are often a bit unstable.
The soundtrack is ok, nothing terrible, but nothing spectacular.
Extra Features
We get two radio spots, the theatrical trailer and a nice photo and poster gallery. In a suitably macabre touch there is also a murder menu that lets the viewer speed to his or her favourite murderous moment.
The Verdict
A classic of the genre and proof that Bava was a visionary master; few other directors ever gave the horror genre such respect. It's no wonder that Bava became such an influential figure in many modern horror directors lives. Gloriously dark in its use of humour and viciously violent when it wants to be, Twitch of the Death Nerve is a must for anyone who wants to see where Jason, Michael and Cropsy came from.
Movie Score
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