Previously available as a standalone DVD from Image Entertainment under its former American title Twitch of the Death Nerve (and reviewed HERE), Mario Bava's vicious black comedy has been remastered for Anchor Bay's second boxed set, gathering under one roof most of the titles released by Image.
On the Image DVD, Bay of Blood was slightly cropped along the sides to a 1.85:1 ratio, whereas the new transfer adds a bit more space in this 1.78:1 ratio; the differences are discrete, but one notices the extra space during the title sequences as credits aren't so close to the frame's edge. The scratches and dirt wildly present on the Image DVD have been radically towned down, and the improved bit rate knocks down the active compression which made skies a bit grimy on the old transfer.
Also improved is the mono sound mix, which clips the heavy hiss and active compressor artifacts that boosted the audio levels, but delivered unbalanced sound levels, heavily noticeable during dialogue scenes.
In terms of extras, Anchor Bay has ported over the same stills and ads, lurid "Carnage" trailer and radio ads from the Image disc, and included a newly recorded commentary track by Video Watchdog author and Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas. While not among Lucas' best tracks - his observations slowly dwindle to short morsels amid longer gaps of silence - he does provide some fascinating material on the film's production, particularly the cast, many of whom Bava had worked with years before (including actress Isa Miranda, who co-starred in Scipio Africanus, the infamous megabudget production for which a young Bava, according to Lucas, designed the title cards and artwork).
One aspect of Bava's career which Lucas has touched upon in prior commentary tracks is Bava's preference to work in Italy, and one can understand the comfort he must have felt in working with old friends with whom he shared a common history in Italy's film industry; Bava was a hometown boy who felt comfortable in familiar surroundings, and he may have realized early into his career as a director how control over a project - whether through casting, scripting, locations, or scoring - could only be maintained on the home turf.
The years as cinematographer and uncredited co-director on peplum films, many of which were co-productions between French, Italian or Spanish companies - meant other interests were potentially poking their heads in Bava's vision, and from his experiences with AIP, he may have felt that by basing himself in Italy with sympathetic Italian producers, at least locally, his movies wouldn't get mangled by distributors.
Bay of Blood went though an awful number of titles, including Last House on the Left 2, and Lucas points out Bava shot dialogue scenes in both Italian and English, with the Italian version offering more natural performances by actors unfettered by phonetically spoken English dialogue written by the dubbing supervisor. Like Black Sunday, it's a shame the Italian version couldn't be released alongside the American, but
Reazione a catena as it's called, is available as an Italian Region 0 DVD from Raro Video, with English subtitles.
Bay of Blood is available as part of the Mario Bava Collection Vol. 2 from Anchor Bay/Starz Home Entertainment, which includes Bay of Blood / Reazione a catena, Baron Blood / Gli Orrori del castello di Norimberga, Five Dolls for an August Moon / 5 bambole per la luna d'agosto, Four Times That Night / Quante volte... quella notte, Kidnapped + Rabid Dogs / Cani arrabbiati, Lisa and the Devil + The House of Exorcism / La Casa dell'esorcismo, and Roy Colt and Winchester Jack / Roy Colt e Winchester Jack.
© 2007 Mark R. Hasan