Friday, October 12, 2012

Psychobabble's 150 Essential Horror Movies: Addition 12

Every day this October, I'll be adding a film to Psychobabble's 120 Essential Horror Movies to bring the list up to 150. Today’s addition is:

71. Kill, Baby, Kill! (1966- dir. Mario Bava)

In his solo directorial debut, The Mask of Satan, Mario Bava made the most of his skills as a cinematographer to craft black & white visuals powerful enough to overwhelm a sketchy script. Story problems were even more evident when he masterminded Hercules in the Haunted World. Once again, his visuals were not nearly as troubled as the director made a striking transition to color, employing primary-colored lights to create a sort of Gothic psychedelia. With Kill, Baby, Kill!, Bava finally co-wrote a script fully worthy of his visual imagination. In an 18th century Carpathian village, a doctor investigates the death of a woman who leapt from a ledge onto a spiked fence. Suicide? Not exactly. The mystery deepens as a giggling, sallow-eyed girl appears whenever a villager is compelled to take his or her own life. The horror heightens as Bava piles on the startling images: creepy dolls, a swing-set mounted camera swooping over a graveyard, an op-art staircase, a portrait that makes the one in Dorian Gray look like a “Ziggy” comic, and a bounty of cobwebs, crypts, and corpses. There’s also a good witch and a living, breathing dead ringer for the grimacing corpse from Black Sabbath. Just when all the sundry mysteries are explained, a spectacular shock tips the film into its most purely surrealistic sequence, which will tickle anyone who was terrified by the series finale of “Twin Peaks”. Bava knew well that there are few things scarier than the unexplainable.

 See this piece in context as part of Psychobabble’s Essential Horror Movies of the 1960s here.
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