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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Five Dolls for an August Moon (Blu-ray Review)

I've had this challenge going for the past couple of years. I planned on watching all of the Gialli ever made or at least all of the 200 plus Gialli on a rather extensive list a friend procured for me. It hasn't been easy, and at times feels like I may never succeed. I'm about a third of the way done. That's okay right? In that whole chaotic mess there are a few big names that stick out and then there are the more obscure titles that become favorites. Five Dolls for an August Moon is a favorite for a number of reasons not the least of which would be Edwige Fenech parading around her birthday suit; Fenech being one of the stars of several Gialli. Maybe my love for Five Dolls is due to the camera eye of Mario Bava, a man who helped to create the Giallo genre. It's titles like these that you'll come to associate with Giallo if you dig deep enough and allow yourself to enjoy the sultry sounds of the cinematic equivalent of dirty acid jazz.

Synopsis from Kino:

Bava was so closely associated with the horror genre that this twisting mystery was never released theatrically in the U.S., but it is deliciously entertaining all the same. A space age island retreat is visited by a group of friends and business associates, one of whom is a scientist who has invented a revolutionary chemical process, and is fending off various offers to buy it. Soon the vacationers start dying, and the survivors begin to wonder who has the most to gain from these murders most foul.

Trailer:



Bava was so closely associated with the horror genre that this twisting mystery was never released theatrically in the U.S., but it is deliciously entertaining all the same. A space age island retreat is visited by a group of friends and business associates, one of whom is a scientist who has invented a revolutionary chemical process, and is fending off various offers to buy it. Soon the vacationers start dying, and the survivors begin to wonder who has the most to gain from these murders most foul.
If there's one thing I can tell you about Giallo that often gets confusing for new fans it's that it is deemed a subgenre and while many of my favorite Giallo films are horror related with horrific elements including extreme, creative bloodletting by masked killers, I will tell you that the majority of Giallo films are crime stories. Mysteries. Detective stories. Sure they may be filled with attractive men and women, violent and heavily stylized but at the root of Giallo are those yellow covered books that are cheap crime novels. This is a crime story. Not a horror story. This is Mario Bava stepping away from movies like Planet of the Vampires, Black Sabbath and even some of his earlier mythological tales to tell a slow, methodical tale of intrigue, deception, seduction and, inevitably, murder. There are hints of The Girl Who Knew Too Much. It is a slow mover. The story drips out of the screen. It takes some patience in contrast to some of Bava's more brutal efforts.

Now a modern audience might see the twists and turns of Five Dolls coming from a kilometer away. It's a crime thriller from the early 70's You might as well compare it to episodes of Columbo that may have stories with similar origins though less gratuity per frame.

Ultimately this disc is a great Blu-ray release that looks stunning. Five Dolls for an August Moon may be a slow-burn, detective story, but it is filled with gorgeous landscapes, women and shot selection. This is all captured in an exquisite transfer. The disc is sparse on features, but we're simply glad to have a pretty version of this relatively overlooked piece of Giallo history.

You can pick it up at DiabolikDVD or stop by Kino's website and peruse the entire Mario Bava collection. They're putting together a comprehensive library.

Please also note, I have a bit of a crush on Edwige Fenech. That influences my decision about any movie she is in.

-Dr. TERROR

2 comments:

  1. Great review, but how about that list? Any chance you would post that for all to see. Would love to try and track all those down too! I've seen THE big Giallo films but would love to track down the obscure one.

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    1. Should have a post out in early October with the full list. I just have to figure out how I'm going to post it. The formatting when copying is sloppy.

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