Review Date: December 27, 2000
Released by: Image Entertainment
Release date: 1/2/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.78:1 | 16x9: Yes
Mario Bava's Twitch of the Death Nerve (aka Bay of Blood, amongst others), has been released to DVD as part of Image Entertainment's "Mario Bava Collection". Simitar first released this onto DVD back in 1999, titled Bay of Blood, though many complained of a poor transfer on that DVD. Now that Image has gotten their hands on this film, have we finally received the high quality DVD we've all been waiting for? Lets take a look and find out...
Countess Federica (Isa Miranda) owns an estate which resides on a bay many developers would like to get their hands on. One person in particular wants to get their hands on Federica's estate - her husband, Filippo Donati. One night Filippo kills the Countess, making it look like a suicide. But before he can get away with the crime, he himself is killed by a mysterious stranger just moments after he kills the Countess.
It seems the developer who is most intent on getting the bay is a man named Ventura (Chris Avram). After he hears of the Countess's death he heads up to the bay, hoping to find its rightful heir. Once he does, all he needs is their signature on the sale of the bay; then he can begin the long planned development that Countess Federica was so opposed to. Meanwhile, a group of teens arrive at the bay for a typical sex and drugs filled weekend. A mysterious eye peeps at them through a nearby fence, and soon the owner of that eye begins quickly killing off the teens one by one.
Renata (Claudine Auger), her husband Albert (Luigi Pistilli) and their two children arrive at the bay in a camper. Renata is Filippo Donati's daughter, who has come to search for her missing father. They begin questioning neighbors, ending up at Simon, a local fisherman, and his boat. When Renata pulls a cover from out his boat she finds the body of her father. Simon claims to have found the body out in the sea while fishing. Ventura soon arrives, but it seems finding the rightful heir may be a bit more difficult than first imagined. While Renata is Filippo's daughter, Simon is Countess Federica's illegitimate son. Which of the two is the rightful heir? Soon it won't matter, as another ploy for ownership of the bay begins and another series of murders take place. Soon only two survivors remain, and only one is an heir to the bay. That remaining heir has another surprise waiting for them, however.
Some people call Twitch of the Death Nerve the grandaddy of all slashers, but it certainly doesn't follow the standard slasher scheme. For one thing, there's more than one killer - that helps the film become more of a murder mystery than the straight slasher we're all so used to. Perhaps when calling it the grandadddy of all slashers, people are referring to the scenes that so many slahser movies have "borrowed" from Twitch of the Death Nerve. Such as when a couple gets a speared plunged through them as they're making love - sound a bit familiar? But I've always thought imitation is the best form of flattery, and it's never been a mystery that slashers are lacking in originality.
Gore fiends will be happy here, as this is reportedly Bava's most graphic film. After seeing a few of the death scenes it's easy to agree with that. Not only are they graphic, they're well implemented, quick and stylish. No running around for 10 minutes while the assailant slowly chases behind, eventually catching up after the damsel in distress trips over dozens of rocks. The teenager part of the movie doesn't really fit into the story all that well, but at least it's over with fairly quick and results in some graphic murder scenes.
I did enjoy Twitch of the Death Nerve, and I certainly recommend horror fans check it out. In particular, people who don't normally like Bava may find themselves liking this one. It's different in many aspects when compared to his other films, but at the same time it has that Bava style many of us have come to know and love. It shouldn't be labeled a slasher because it's not - it's so much more than a "slasher". While the story may be hard to follow for some, mainly because of all the characters and plot twists, I think that's part of its charm and why it's so effective. Definitely check this one out.
Image Entertainment presents Twitch of the Death Nerve in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Image has cleaned up the transfer immensely, leaving only some small problems to remain. There are print blemishes - scratches, nicks, dirt - but they generally don't become distracting. At times white specks appears throughout several spots on the scene, though they only last for a few seconds. The picture is generally grain free, with only a few scenes having some minor grain appear. Given the age of the film I'm impressed by the colors, which come across fairly solid and vivid. Blacks especially are strong and accurate, really helping to enhance all the nighttimes scenes. Image is sharp overall with no noticeable soft spots. Great transfer overall that I'm going to rate a B on.
Twitch of the Death Nerve is presented in English Dolby Digital Mono. No distortion or background noise is heard, but there is a fairly big problem with dialogue. The dialogue plays too low throughout much of the movie; I find myself often cranking up the volume to maximum levels just to hear what was going on. The problem with doing that is that music and other noises don't play low - they play at normal levels, so I was constantly adjusting the volume. I've read other reviews on this Image DVD and Simitar's past release, both of which have this sound problem. Apparently it's something with the source materials, not the DVD itself. It's unfortunate, because every other aspect of this DVD is terrific.
Not enough supplements to label this a full blown "special edition", but Image has still given us a few to enjoy. Included on the DVD are Mario Bava biography and filmography, 2 radio spots, Carnage (yet another title this was released under) theatrical trailer, photo and poster galleries, trailers to other titles in Image's "Mario Bava Collection" and liner notes by Tim Lucas. Obviously nothing here for me to discuss in any great detail, but it's always nice to get at least a few extras to check out.
Image did a great job in the video quality department, but sadly the audio has a few problems that definitely become a nuisance. The DVD is light on extras but there are a handful of small ones included. The film itself is a great murder mystery with some nice, graphic murder scenes that are sure to please many of you. Regardless of whether you're a Bava fan, you're bound to enjoy this one if you're a horror fan. Overall this DVD is years better than past releases; be sure to check it out.
Movie - B
Image Quality - B
Sound - C
Supplements - C+
- Running time - 1 hour 24 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English Dolby Digital Mono
- Mario Bava biography / filmography
- 2 radio spots
- Carnage theatrical trailer
- Photo and poster galleries
- Trailers to other titles in Image's "Mario Bava Collection"
- Liner notes by Tim Lucas