SEAT AT THE BACK - SCRIBBLES! ~ It's that time of year again: THE RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL in London! On now.. See you there!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Natural Terrors ~ A Bay of Blood/ Deadly Pursuit

Tonight, I've been watching Sidney Poitier in the wildly adventurous Deadly Pursuit (1988) and director Mario Bava's slasher horror template - A Bay Of Blood (1971). A seemingly perfect double bill of rustic madness.

Deadly Pursuit sees a captivating and classy FBI Agent Warren Stantin, played by Poitier, out for revenge; tracking a bloodthirsty killer across the North American wilderness. There are shock twists galore as the killer joins a fishing trip - but who is the imposter among the group?


One of the best action films ever made, Deadly Pursuit is often very funny too - with scenery that, at times, is so stunning and noisy (witness the great cascading waterfall as the group of fishermen and one woman, the leader of the group, sit beside it - dialogue quite beautifully and naturally drowned out) that the sudden shock twists when they come make your jaw drop that extra bit lower; one unexpected killing spree makes your jaw reach stone floor levels of shock!
But fast forward to the ending and it's not the best final reel you'll see in a movie, one that perhaps deserves the best. It doesn't matter, there's enough pulse-racing enjoyment and nerve-shredding fun here to start dripping even the most jaded of sweat pores.

A Bay Of Blood wallows in beauty and death; sunset shots of rippling water and woodland, along with a fabulously wild plot and bloody, jump-off-your-chair scares. The blueprint for later franchise-building slasher films such as Friday the 13th (1980) but shot with pure class that breathes both style and substance throughout - characterisation is especially creepy. 

The brutal murder of a Countess in a sprawling estate by a quiet bay sparks a murder spree of blood-soaked excess among the locals, drifters and nubile teens out for a good time. The murders are inventive and explicit and the rustic approach and setting; all fish and squid and insects juxtaposed alongside murder weapons that predate the various hook slaughters in the later I Know What You Did Last Summer movies from the late 90s.

The night scenes are sometimes a little too relentless and dark, but a small flaw for such a fine thing. Bava is Hitchcock's Italian brother-in-blood, and sets up shocks without the need for cheap tricks, or if they are cheap - you sure don't notice.

words ~ mark gordon palmer

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