Reazione a catena – TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE – The Dungeon Review!

twitch of the death nerve dvdI am crazy-nuts about Italian horror. I have not reviewed nearly enough Giallo for this blog! What is it I love about horror films from Italy? They do not generally feature large group’s of mind-numbingly stupid teenagers or 20-somethings. They have more violence and creative deaths. Story is relevant, and is often an intricate puzzle. Women can be killers too! You never know who will live, if anybody, and the “Final Girl” concept is pretty much thrown out the window. Basically, I love Italian horror for all the reasons it is different from its North American peers. I’m not saying all Italian horror films are good any more than I am saying all North American horror films are bad. That would just be stupid! Italian horror, simply put, was a breath of fresh air. Back in the days of VHS I would blindly buy any horror film I seen. This was not a good idea if you loved horror films from other countries. They were often marketed under more than one name. I had purchased this film under the title ‘Bay of Blood’ AND ‘Twitch of The Death Nerve’. Both copies were dubbed to boot! I really do hate dubbing! There was no internet to look up such things and when you’re buying copious horror films, it’s easy enough to duplicate. I sure do dig the strings of words that make up Italian film titles. Who needs one word film titles anyway? ‘Six women for the Murderer’, ‘What Have You Done To Solange?’, ‘A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin’,’Four Flies on Grey Velvet’, and one of my favorite titles ever; ‘Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key’. Was I doing a review here? It’s so easy for me to get lost in a sea of endless rambling when I get on the topic of Giallo! Sadly, Italian horror had its heyday in the 70’s and 80’s, but I guess that can be said of the horror genre across the board. They just don’t make them like they use to! I’m a junkie for the 70’s stuff and always wished I was a teenager during that decade. Time to get down to a little business now! Today I review a film by the great Mario Bava. One of my personal favorite Bava masterpieces and the granddaddy of them all! ‘Twitch of The Death Nerve’, ‘Bay of Blood’, ‘Antefatto’, ‘Carnage’ or ‘Reazione a catena’, whatever title it might be found under, it is pure horror perfection!

An elderly heiress is killed by her husband who wants control of her fortune. What ensues is an all-out murder spree as relatives and friends attempt to reduce the inheritance playing field, complicated by some teenagers who decide to camp out in a dilapidated building on the estate. (I usually compose my own plot summary, but Mr. Ed Sutton posted this on IMDB and it sums it up short and sweet.)

In the films opening scene we see a wealthy wheelchair bound woman getting killed by an assailant, who in turn is killed himself. This sets the pace for the films action. Bava certainly appeared to have a disdain for those with power and money. It all comes down to greed and the depths to which people will sink to elevate themselves in society. This is certainly not the only Bava work where this comes out crystal clear, but it is definitely the most violent. ‘Twitch’ features a most impressive body count in its 80-ish minute run time. If you are going to give this a sub-genre label you would have to put it in the slasher category. Bava has included elements of classic giallo throughout the film, like black gloved killers, unusual and eccentric characters and an intricate story with numerous plot twists. But the showcase of ‘Twitch’ is really each
elaborately staged death scene. It is true that characters are shot at us like bullets in this film and then are quickly snuffed out. We never
still from twitch of the death nerve
get to know any of the characters, but I always assumed that was Bava’s point. The storyline may seem a bit confusing at times, as there are numerous characters with their own unique agendas, but in the end it all comes down to one factor. when the film has come full circle and reveals itself, all that is left is a greedy pile of bodies. Any film maker is going to have a certain amount of personal views in their film and Bava likes to serve his with a little black humor and gore. The film keeps a steady pace and there is a death about every ten minutes from start to finish. Fantastic! Each one of these scenes is a unique feast for the eyes. A large, gothic mansion on a secluded serene bay is the perfect backdrop. Bava definitely has a unique style and balances out the beauty of the setting with extreme violence. Apparently the property they filmed on was thin on trees and Bava used camera angles and tricks like setting up branches to walk the camera through to make it appear more deeply wooded. The man definitely has an eye for detail. Compared to the special effects and CGI’d gore of modern films, I suppose that ‘Twitch’ may come off as looking rather dated to some viewers. Certainly, the film reflects the fashions and furnishings of the early 70’s, but the style and quality of effects is timeless. This film was way ahead of its time when it was released. Audiences had never really seen that kind of graphic violence. It is no wonder that copious films have borrowed and outright ripped off scenes from Mario Bava’s classic Giallo slasher. All horror fans should see this movie. You may not enjoy it as much as I do, but you will marvel at its obvious and massive influence on the horror genre, particularly the slasher films of the 1980’s. Viva La Bava! A Deeply underappreciated Italian horror film director Who should be worshipped like a god! Highest of recommendations!

Dungeon Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Mario Bava

Starring: Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, Claudio Camaso, Anna Maria Rosati, Chris Avram, Leopoldo Trieste, Laura Betti, Brigitte Skay and Isa Miranda

4 Responses to “Reazione a catena – TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. While you haven’t reviewed enough Giallo for your blog, I certainly haven’t seen enough of it. Probably only a few here and there but I loved them and I need to see more. I’ve heard of this one so I’ll have to hunt it down now. Where’s that list? Man, how do I lose something that’s getting so long! HAHA!

    • You should DEFINITELY see this one! Try to get the BAVA COLLECTION one, it is beautiful! Subtitled, uncut, good sound. There are some less than brilliant versions of this one out there so beware!

  2. […] ******** #3 TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE (aka BAY OF BLOOD) Directed By: Mario Bava Twitch Of The Death Nerve has a pretty convoluted plot with multiple characters, each with their own agenda. In the end there is a big pile of dead greedy bodies. Bava’s film has some Giallo elements but leans heavier towards the horror and violence. The film keeps a steady pace and there’s a death about every ten minutes. Each death scene is creative and nasty fun. The large gothic mansion on the serene bay is the perfect backdrop. Twitch Of The Death Nerve is well-filmed with the perfect mood and tone. The film is charged with being a major influence for the slasher films of the 80′s. You’ll have to judge for yourself whether that is a good thing or not. I have watched this film multiple times over the years and it never fails to entertain me. To read my full review click here. […]

    • Like Blood and Black Lace,essential viewing. I was fortunate enough to see this at the drive-in when first released,and loved it.

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