Sommerleigh Pollonais – Horror Head Writer
In 1966 horror movie Kill, Baby…Kill! A Carpathian village is haunted by the ghost of a murderous little girl, prompting a coroner and a medical student to uncover her secrets while a witch attempts to protect the villagers.
This countdown to 31 Days of Horror just keeps getting better and better with each decade, and there’s no way to go through the 60s without coming across one of the iconic films from the sub genre of horror English-speaking fans call “Giallo.”
Without going all Wiki on you, Giallo (which means yellow in Italian) refers to Italian movies that fall into the thriller/horror genre. They tend to have a mystery as the main plot and often contain tons of blood/gore. They’re also very colorful, psychedelic and usually contain some level of sexploitation. And while there hasn’t been that many Giallo films made in recent times, they have heavily influenced the American slasher genre through the years.
Kill, Baby…Kill! (ridiculous title I know, but the original title was even worse – Operation Fear) was famed Italian director Mario Bava’s return to gothic horror. The film had a meager budget and two weeks into shooting they ran out of money, but the dedicated crew and cast decided to finish it anyways. Now that’s what I call work ethic! Because of this, the sets are quite obviously, well, sets, and the cast is not a large one. There’s a scene where a couple of thugs are attacking our would-be hero, Dr Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) in an alleyway and it’s the fakest looking alleyway I’ve ever seen.
But it speaks volumes as to how talented an artist Mario Bava was that he managed to utilise the small locations and still make a movie that could stand up against the best Hammer Studios had to offer back then. With some inventive camerawork (loved the POV shot of the girl on the swing) and the concept of a ghost that drives their victims to suicide, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how this mystery would unfold.
The acting also never came across as cheesy, at least not to me. Giacomo Rossi-Stuart is quite believable as the fish-out-of-water doctor/coroner who gets caught up in the secrets and horrors of this village, but the standouts in this film are most definitely the ladies, with Valerio Valeri pioneering the role of creepy ghost-girl. No heavy makeup required! There’s a stillness to her that’s instantly unsettling and her introduction (her face staring through a glass window) is the stuff of nightmares. Fabienne Dali as the Witch and Giovanna Galletti as Baroness Graps steal the scenes they’re in, and considering they don’t have that much screen time, this speaks volumes.
My only real issue with this movie was the second act. From the introduction to the doctor to his trying to figure out the mystery behind the deaths in the small town, the pacing drags. Thankfully it picks up as soon as they enter the Baroness’ castle and then things never let up. Kill, Baby….Kill! (typing this is quite annoying) then becomes an acid trip of trippy paintings with human eyes, spiral staircases that go on forever, and a revolving room that traps anyone that enters in a time loop of terror. Throw in the bright reds, neon blues and quick zooms into the ghastly faces of the Baroness and that creepy little girl, and this movie instantly becomes one of the best gothic horror movies of the 60s.
Giallo films have never really focused on story that much. It’s all about the atmosphere and visuals, and in that respect KBK (yeah, that’s better) delivers. While it wasn’t financially successful upon release, the movie has gone on to be considered on of Bava’s very best. Watching I couldn’t help but compare moments (like the opening death of a female character) to later films that would come from other famed Italian horror director Dario Argento’s Suspiria or another chilling tale of a dead little girl, 1980’s classic The Changeling. This just goes to show the kind of impact this haunting tale made. If gothic horror rattles your ghostly chains, then KBK is definitely worth adding to your collection.
Sommer’s Score: 7 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!