A creepy masterpiece of horrific art
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 03/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kill Baby Kill is a surprisingly good, beautifully presented, deliciously atmospheric horror film from noted Italian director Mario Bava. This is actually a fairly creepy ghost story, but there is a pretty significant death count nonetheless. The very first scene shows us a distraught young lady throwing herself, quite reluctantly, onto a spiked rail fence. Finding himself stymied in his investigation of the victim's death by a superstitious town population, Inspector Kruger calls in a coroner to perform an autopsy on the victim. Dr. Eswe finds himself having to walk a short distance into the small village because his driver refuses to enter it. He arrives to find a pretty desolate place with deserted streets, highly suspicious townspeople, and a mysterious but undeniable sense of gloom and doom. A young lady named Monica (Erica Blanc) soon arrives to witness the coroner's autopsy, one in which a coin is found nailed into the heart of the victim. Monica is one of the few people to have ever left the village, being taken away at just two years of age, but her connection with the townsfolk is predictably much deeper than even she knows. The townspeople won't talk about the suicide because "the child" will kill them if they do; based on later evidence, this is sound thinking on their part. The evil force seemingly responsible for what becomes a string of deaths is the ghost of a little seven-year old girl who died twenty years earlier while the townspeople failed to notice or just refused to respond to her cries for help. Little Melissa does much to make this movie compelling, as the child actress is genuinely frightening with her large eyes, forceful glances, and innocent yet malevolent laughter. The doctor doesn't believe in the superstitious story of the ghost, but as he becomes more and more involved in the investigation, his ideas are forced to evolve somewhat.
The village setting is magnificently done, with ancient, moldering buildings, a seemingly perpetual darkness, vintage costumes, and an overall sense of grim tidings. At times, the movie seems to take on the appearance of a surreal work of art. Some innovative camera work lends great depth to the presentation, although the director does seem to get slightly carried away once or twice. Erica Blanc's presence helps make up for some minor weaknesses in the performance of Giacomo Rossi-Stuart as Dr. Eswe, although I think my problem with his performance, at least early on, was the fact that his fancy ways and looks just seemed incredibly out of place in a horror movie such as this. It took me a little while to fully get into the story, but by the mid-point of the film I was definitely hooked. It is not wholly original, and one of the major plot points can be easily foreseen very early on, yet I enjoyed this movie tremendously. You won't find a lot of gore here, nor even an excessive amount of suspense, but the atmosphere just overwhelms you as you progress, giving Kill Baby Kill an ambiance and character that most horror films can never hope to achieve. Music, direction, and standout individual performances combine to make this an engaging, creepy psychological masterpiece. The title makes this movie sound like some kind of B-movie, but in reality it is an impressive, polished, consummately professional work of horrific art."
PENNIES FROM HELL
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 05/16/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Another little gem from italian director Mario Bava has just entered the DVD market : the 1966 OPERAZIONE PAURA aka KILL, BABY...KILL ! After the releases of RABID DOGS (great), BAY OF BLOOD and BARON BLOOD, the Bava fan was already smiling, now he is literally hysterical. And more releases are announced for the next weeks to come. Miam ! Miam !KILL, BABY...KILL ! plays in the same category than THE MASK OF SATAN or BARON BLOOD : the Gothic, yes, but in the Bava manner. So we witness a few gothic murders shot in a blue-green-yellow fog in the middle of a lost austrian village. Nothing very special after all BUT then comes the detail that kills : someone has put a penny in the heart of the murdered people (Bava, you're the greatest !).There is also a scene which deserves to stay in Movie History (yes, Sir !) : the hero, played by Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, is trying to find Erika Blanc (the heroin, the blonde with the white transparent pyjama and almost nothing (gargl..) under it) through the numerous rooms of the Villa Graps, he runs and runs and finally catches his own double. Simple but magistral idea.Three trailers as bonus features : Bava's SIX WIVES FOR THE ASSASSIN, Dario Argento's THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE and Laslo Benedek's THE NIGHT VISITOR.A DVD for Erika Blanc."
Mario Bava turns his talents to a Gothic ghost story
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 01/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Director Mario Bava ("Black Sunday," "Black Sabbath") creates an atmosphere gothic horror film in "Kill, Baby, Kill" ("Operazione Paura"). At first glance this is an old fashioned ghost story with all of the required horror movie elements, from the ignorant and superstitious villages, an old crone uttering curses, swirling mists, rooms strewn with cobwebs, and even a black cat. Of course there is also the one person who understands what is really going on and is ignored until it is way too late. When Dr. Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) shows up to perform an autopsy on a young woman who died a violent death, he finds a fear stricken town in the best gothic tradition. When he finds the victim has a coin embedded in her heart, the town's shameful secret is told: twenty years earlier a young child, Melissa Graps, was run over and left to die during a festival. The townspeople are convinced Melissa's ghost is driving the guilty to suicide by appearing to them, and the good doctor's plea for rationality is ignored as the townsfolk are whipped into a frenzy of fear by the local sorceress, Ruth (Fabienne Dali). When Dr. Eswai and the lovely Monica (Erika Blanc) go to the local castle, Villa Graps, they find the Baroness also dead, another apparent suicide. There is only one thing left to do; explore the castle and find its deadly secret. Title notes: "Kill, Baby, Kill!" was the film's 1968 release title, although it was first seen in the United States two years earlier as "Operation Fear." Other reissue titles were "Don't Walk in the Park" and "Curse of the Living Dead" (not to be confused with "Curse of the Dead," the release title in the United Kingdom). Whatever the title, this film is one of Bava's better efforts at creating an atmospheric horror film. Monica has a nightmare that is a very effective montage sequences. The film is also rather unique, especially for an Italian production, in that all of the really interesting characters are females, especially Ruth, who lends the movie some of its more effective twists. The more you can forget that this sort of story has been done to death in the United States in the years since 1966, the more you can enjoy this film. Certainly a lot more going on creatively both in front and behind the camera than you would find in the best Hammer films of the same time period."