George Stark, a wealthy industrialist and playboy, gathers a group of bourgeois friends at his isolated island beach house for the weekend. His guest of honor is Gerry Farrell, a brilliant chemist who has discovered a rema... more »rkable new formula. Farrell doesn't care to discuss business, but the businessmen in attendance are determined to talk money--in the millions. Each of them angers the others with secrets bids and back alley deals, spawning an atmosphere of distrust, exacerbated by the sexual intrigue in the air between the men and their various wives and mistresses. Suspicions begin to rise when the guests begin to turn up dead, one by one! Mario Bava strikes again--and again, and again--in this stylish and wicked whodunit, never before released in America!« less
"Although Bava said this was his worst film, "Five Dolls..." is now enjoying a much deserved re-appraisal. When I saw a washed-out 35mm print some years ago, I was inclined to agree with the director's opinion, but the DVD release has laid any doubts I may have had to rest. The unusually framed compositions, frenetic zip-panning, intrusive zooms and gaudy colours give the film a psychedelic Eurotrash ambience that is difficult to resist. The unconvincing characterizations and hackneyed plot are lost in a welter of striking incidental details: hundreds of glass baubles rolling down a staircase and into the bloody water of a suicide victim's bathtub, being a particularly impressive example. The kitschy easy-listening soundtrack compliments the visuals perfectly, humorously underscoring the hanging of the corpses in the freezer with childishly sinister fairground music. The English dubbed track seems suffers from occasional irritating crackles, so I suggest you enjoy this garish "10 Little Indians" variant in Italian with English subs. Riddled with loose ends, it's not one of Bava's most substantial movies, but it's by no means devoid of the classic, unusual touches that are associated with his name."
A pleasant surprize !
T. Avallone | St Charles IL | 06/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Mario Bava has taken a step back to his horror genre and created a psychadelic, mysterious, sexy, black comedy. The film is TERRIBLY dated to the late 60s/early 70s. (The girls look like they just walked out from the 'Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls' set). But DON'T let that stop you from viewing this VERY original piece of film !The plot is simple: A group of married friends are on a 'getaway' weekend and they find themselves being killed off one by one. THATS IT ! Sounds like a "Ten Little Indians" clone, right ???? Wrong ! You have the brutality of "Fargo" in some spots and the wickedly DARK comedic moments as in "Pulp Fiction". If you liked both of those films, you will enjoy this little seen Bava masterpiece. The music is TOTALLY 60s, the outfits are right out of the Jimi Hendrix thrift store, and the stage sets look like a 'hippie' Brady Bunch dwelling. Its a FUN movie !Without a doubt: This was WAY before its time. Very enjoyable ! Even though its not HORROR, (its more of a mystery), this is a MUST for Bava fans !"
The indiscreet charmlessness of the bourgeoisie.
darragh o'donoghue | 11/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is surely no coincidence that the two greatest adaptations of Agatha Christie (Rene Clair's 'And then there were none' and this) have been by directors who might be loosely called Surrealist, and have been based on the same book, 'Ten Little Indians', in which the traditional emblem of consciousness in the crime novel, the detective, is removed, allowing the unconscious free rein. 'Five Dolls for an August Moon' is not often rated as highly as Bava's horror films, but I think it might be his masterpiece, the murder mystery as Bunuellian bad dream. a number of couples are invited by magnate George Stark to his island retreat, as cover for his attempts to force a brilliant scientist to sell some secret formula that is worth millions but potentially dangerous. the increasingly tense atmosphere soon becomes the backdrop for a series of grotesque murders.There is something of 'the Tempest' about 'Five dolls', with its enchanted island (seemingly pivoted around the title moon), a presiding power manipulating everyone's movements and an Ariel-like figure flitting freely and decisively on the margins. but it is Bunuel who is the true guiding spirit - like the party-goers in 'The Exterminating Angel', Bava's bourgeoisie can't leave their opulent surroundings, and their elegant facade is soon stripped away to reveal sexual neurosis, financial greed and violence (lingering traces of fascism in the bright new democratic, industrial Italy, and all prominent in the brutal George); while, like 'Belle de Jour', the mystery narrative is subverted by a complex pattern mixing dream, subjective point-of-view and reality - one amazing sequence sees the survivors magically disappearing when potential rescuers arrive on the island. As ever, the house is central to Bava's vision, in this case a gorgeously gleaming, futuristic, spacious white interior, reworked into kaleidoscopic shapes by Bava's prowling camera, his quickswitch, wide-angle tilts and his use of deep deep-focus. the Hammond-dominated soundtrack is one of those infectious masterpieces seemingly de rigeur in the Euro-B-movies of the time, and so badly lacking in these gloopy, over-orchestrated times. the missing formula is more than a McGuffin: a powerful symbol for the absence (emotional, moral etc.) debilitating these awful characters. Surveillance is another prominent Bava theme, the all-seeing, unseen eye watching our every move in modern society - in this case the act of spying/looking/viewing and the act of killing are explicitly linked in a moment of Hitchcockian frisson."
Strange and Groovy
darragh o'donoghue | 06/05/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The maestro Mario Bava may not have liked this rare late sixties romp but it does offer quite a few pleasures: a wonderful pop score, breathtaking color, bizarre and masterly compositions and an all around sense of nonsensical fun.It's not at all a good film in the usual sense but if you're a Euro-cult or Bava fan than it's very likely that you'll find it a pleasure.For horror fans, be warned that their is almost no on-screen horror to be had. It's not that type of film."
Unreleased in the USA until now!
darragh o'donoghue | 05/29/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON is by no means one of Mario Bava's greatest achievements (the title itself is reminiscent of the hit BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS in the US the same year). It is certainly a lesson, however, in doing the best with what you've got. Basically an Italian [version] of TEN LITTLE INDIANS, this film is rather low on substance. The chracters are mostly dull and the plot rather contrived. In other hands this would be cause for concern. Under Bava's stylish and adept direction, DOLLS achieves some ingenious moments and fantastic imagery. The film looks wonderful on DVD, sans some scratches and some weak colors. Can you guess the ending? Well, it might be a no brainer, but at least you get to spend 74 minutes watching the results of a master Italian suspense filmmaker. Recommended for Bava fans (and those who enjoy watching Italian women romping around in Pucci gowns). Viewers are also treated to multiple language and subtitle options."