Twitch of the Death Nerve
Twitch of the Death Nerve (1971)
Title: Twitch of the Death Nerve
Directed by: Mario Bava
Written by: Franco Barberi; Mario Bava; Filippo Ottoni; Dardano Saccheti; Joseph McLee
Produced by: Giuseppe Zaccariello
Music by: Stelvio Cipriani
Cinematography: Mario Bava
Edited by: Carlo Reali
Distributed by: Nuova Linea Cinematografica
Released: September 8th, 1971
Rating: R
Running time: 84 min.
Country: Italy
Language: Italian

Twitch of the Death Nerve is a 1971 Italian giallo film directed by Mario Bava. Released in Italy under its original title Reazione a catena, it has also been distributed in the international market as A Bay of Blood. It has also been referred to under the titles Ecology of a Crime, The Antecedent and The Last House on the Left Part II (USA reissue title). Twitch of the Death Nerve was released in Italy on September 8th, 1971. It is considered by many to be the first "slasher" film, inspiring scores of similar works such as Sean S. Cunningham's 1980 horror classic Friday the 13th.

Plot Edit

Countess Federica Donati is the owner of a huge mansion nestled on the shore of a bay somewhere in Europe (presumably Italy). Federica is very old and can only move about by way of her wheelchair. She stares somberly out the window of her home onto the bay. She then locks up the windows and turns out the lights. As she spins about, a noose drops down catching the her about the throat. An unseen hand tightens the noose while kicking the wheelchair out from under her. Her neck snaps and her body is left lying limp in the center of the room. The killer turns around and leaves what looks to be a suicide note on the table. A moment later, a second figure emerges in the room. The man stabs the killer twice in the back with a knife.

Meanwhile, at an apartment complex somewhere on the mainland, Frank Ventura, a greedy land developer and architect rises from his sexual escapade with his girlfriend Laura to talk shop with a business associate. Frank has a vested interest in the bay-area property; especially now that the Countess is dead. He kisses Laura goodbye and heads out.

Back at the bay, two more individuals carry on with their lives. The first is Paolo Fossati. Paolo is a bug-catcher who owns a home on the bay with his fortune-telling wife Anna. Paolo is in the midst of hunting down butterflies when he comes upon Simon. Simon lives in a small boathouse (likewise on the bay) and spends his afternoons fishing for octopus and squid. Simon takes great pride in the fact that he eats them as soon as he catches them. The two men speak briefly about the death of the countess. Simon insists that the old woman committed suicide, but Paolo is convinced that she was murdered. They both inquire about the disappearance of the Countess' husband Filippo Donati.

Sometime later, four teenagers arrive at a small cabin on the bay. Their names are Bobby, Patty, George and Brunhilda. While checking out the cabin they also come upon an old abandoned nightclub. The teens begin dancing and cavorting about until Brunhilda decides that she wants to go skinny-dipping. She trots on down to the lake and begins playing in the water. Seconds later, a rotting corpse bumps into her thigh, forcing her to flee the lake. She gets out, clothes herself and begins frantically screaming across the wilderness. Someone appears from the shadows and slices Brunhilda's throat open with a knife.

Bay of Blood

Bay of Blood film poster.

The killer then goes up to the cabin to take care of the others. The first one he comes across is Bobby. Bobby is ready to go out and search for Brunhilda, but the killer whacks him across the face with a machete. He sneaks into the bedroom where he finds Patty and George about to have sex. The killer stumbles upon a spear that happens to be lying about and stabs it through Patty's back, killing Bobby as well.

Elsewhere, psychic Anna Fossati is in her room reading Tarot cards. She mutters something about thirteen deaths and the sickle of death before going on in search of her husband. Paolo is downstairs talking to bugs.

Out near the bay, a motor home driven by two people named Renata Donati and Albert drives towards the property. Renata is Filippo's daughter from a previous marriage and she come to the bay to inquire about her father's disappearance. Albert and she also have a vested interest in the Countess' will. If Filippo cannot be found, then it stands to reason that possession of the bay property would fall into the hands of the next living relative right. The couple leave their two children in the motor home and go out to inspect the property. They find the Fosatti house and decide to inquire with them. The nature behind the Countess' death is also called in to question. Renata is just about to exert her claim over the property when Madame Fosatti tells her that the Countess had an illegitimate child. This child would be Simon, the squid-eating stevedore. The couple decide to go and talk to Simon to see about the land.

As they approach Simon's shack they see a strange man leaving the house. This is Frank Ventura (apparently Simon was the one that Frank was speaking to on the phone earlier). Renata and Albert approach Simon after Frank leaves. They talk a bit about Filippo, but Simon states that he hasn't seen him. Seconds later, Renata finds Filippo's body lying in Simon's boat. A squid has attached itself to his face. The two confirm that the body is indeed Renata's father and they interrogate Simon further. Simon tells them to ask Frank Ventura, stating that he has all the answers.

They all go off towards Frank's place. Renata is the first to enter and finds the four mangled bodies of the disco-club partiers. She begins screaming and Frank races in and tries to kill her with a machete. Renata retreats to another room and manages to find a pair of scissors. Stabbing the scissors through a glass pane on the door, she manages to catch Frank in the stomach. She struggles past him and races out to find her husband.

Meanwhile, Anna and Paolo have decided to leave their hut to go searching for everybody else. Paolo eventually doubles back to his own place where he is strangled by an unseen attacker. Meanwhile, Anna arrives at Frank Ventura's place. She finds all the dead bodies lying about and begins to panic. Her screams quickly fade however as a blade comes down, severing her head from her neck.

Albert finally catches up with his wife who is still at Frank's place. It was actually Albert who strangled Paolo. Renata is the one who cut off Anna's head. With Anna, Paolo and Frank out of the way, the only one standing between them and the inheritance is Simon. They leave to go take care of the him next.

Frank's lover Laura drives down to the bay to see what is going on. She finds Simon in his cabin. Simon is angry and brandishing an axe. The true nature of recent events is finally revealed.

Both Frank and Laura had visited the Countess a year ago offering to buy her land from her. The Countess refused, claiming that she wanted to keep it in the family. Frank had little choice but to leave, but Laura managed to steal the Countess' diary. The last entry in her journal was a forlorn footnote detailing her sense of loss over her husband. It was written on February 16th but no year was specified. If one were to read the entry out of context, it sounded a lot like a suicide note. So Frank and Laura decided to wait until the following February 16th to murder the Countess. In the meantime, Laura had seduced Filippo and convinced him to murder his wife. However Laura was more interested in Filippo's estate than his affection so she had Frank kill Filippo immediately after the Countess was confirmed dead. Now there was just the matter of Simon. Frank had made an arrangement to get Simon out of the country. If he agreed to kill off a few witnesses, Frank would pay him a large sum of money. It was Simon (at Frank's behest) that killed the four teenagers. But now Simon knew the truth. He knew that his mother was murdered and that Frank and Laura were responsible. Flying into a rage, he pounces on Laura and chokes her to death.

Leaving the cabin, he goes to hunt down Frank. However, Albert and Renata are ready for him. Albert stabs him with a spear, pinning him to the front wall of his cabin. The couple then return to Frank's place to collect the bodies. Frank survives Renata's attack and Albert and he get into a fight. Ultimately though, Frank succumbs to his wounds and dies. Satisfied that everyone else is dead, the two take the bodies down to the bay to bury them.

Nothing is left to stop Albert and Renata from inheriting the bay and all the surrounding land. They return to their trailer in order to make future plans. Albert and Renata's two children appear in the trailer window with a double-barrel shotgun. Two loud blasts later and the grownups are dead on the ground. Apparently the kids were just playing and are quite impressed with their parents' act of "playing dead" performance. The two gleefully skip down to the bay to go swimming.

Cast Edit

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • Rated R for intense violence, gore and nudity.
  • The tagline to this film is "They came to play. They stayed to die".

Recommendations Edit

External Links Edit

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This article relates to the works of Mario Bava.
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