BAY OF BLOOD (1971)
On a grand estate on the shore of a bay, an elderly woman clings desperately to the land so that it will not be bought and turned into a resort. However, her murder sets off a chain reaction that brings all of the potential heirs to the estate out of the woodwork, and more disturbing, an unknown killer who begins to systematically murder each of these heirs. The situation takes another turn for the worse when a group of teenagers decide to trespass on the estate, and are quickly targeted by a killer who knows no remorse, sympathy, or limits to their cruel imagination for slaughtering their next victim.
This film has become known as the very first official slasher film, and is (or at least should be) the water mark to compare all other films that compete for the slasher subgenre label. In America, it can be debated whether BLACK CHRISTMAS or HALLOWEEN was really the first US slasher film, though both owe all their screen credit to Bava's masterpiece. The early FRIDAY THE 13TH films in particular also borrow heavily from this film, right down to the first-person POV and some of the signature murders in the series. For better or worse (and for most fans it is probably the better), due to BAY OF BLOOD, sex and violence will always be married in the slasher genre.
This was one of the last films that Mario Bava would make, and it is a culmination of a lifetime of work. Even though the movie's essence can be boiled down to a horror shocker, each of the film's individual parts are given the respect and professionalism that would be seen in a high art or dramatic picture. Bava has always been known as one who uses color to manipulate and enhance his films, and it is no exception here. The music plays a critical part in setting moods and building up suspense. Bava's camerawork pulls from the well established "unknown killer" motifs and makes them his own, which set the stage for future directors and cinematographers to mutate to their own needs.