Kill, Baby, Kill

November 23, 2012 at 10:20 pm (7 Heads, Kill, Baby, Kill) (, , , )

Kill, Baby, Kill – 1966 – Italy

Mario Bava needs no introduction. The director/cinematographer helped define an era of Italian horror filmmaking. Please disregard the stupid English title. Kill, Baby, Kill is a fine example of Bava’s style.

In the opening scene, a fleeing girl impales herself on a spiked gate. In a classically effective setup, a coroner visits a Carpathian village to assist a police inspector’s investigation. The village is plagued by murders which the secretive superstitious villagers claim are the work of ghosts. The inspector disappears and the coroner experiences eerie encounters. Ghostly children stalk him and his girlfriend is harassed by a creepy dematerializing doll. Soon the coroner teams up with a handsome lady witch to solve the mystery and free the cursed village.

Bava is a cinematographer first and foremost. This is apparent throughout Kill, Baby, Kill. The village is in perpetual dusk. Crumbling buildings cast long shadows across desolate streets. Elegantly formal compositions enhance the mysterious locations. Ancient townhouses are cluttered with cobwebs, taxidermies, and mediaeval armor. A striking spiral staircase is featured prominently. It should surprise no one who has seen Black Sunday (1960) that fog machines are also in abundance.

Mario Bava (and his Italian contemporaries) value style over substance, and Kill, Baby, Kill is no exception. The simple plot still manages to confuse and the premise is so timeless that it’s also a cliché. Regardless, the flick triumphs with sublime beauty and haunting atmosphere. And that’s really why I like Italian horror.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. While Kill, Baby, Kill is a dumb title, it could be worse. Some alternate titles are Operation Fear and Don’t Walk in the Park.

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