[31 Days Of Horror ’19] Mini Reviews: Kill, Baby… Kill! (1966) and Les Diaboliques (1955)

Mini Review Day 22: Kill, Baby… Kill! (1966)

Mario Bava made a name for himself with memorable classic’s such as Black Sabbath(1963), Black Sunday (1960) and Blood and Black Lace (1964) and was an early pioneer of the Italian genre that would become known as the ‘giallo’. He was one of Italy’s great film makers, and inspired so many with his work and unique style. One film that isn’t often discussed among his filmography is Kill, Baby… Kill! (1966), however it really should be because it is a great ghost story and an interesting horror film.

The film takes place during the turn of the 1900’s in a Carpathian village in Italy, where this village has a terrible curse and people die under strange circumstances. A coroner Dr. Paul Eswai (Giacomo Rossi Stuart) is called to the village by Inspector Kruger (Piero Lulli) to investigate the strange death of a young lady. No one in the village is talking, and the woman’s death doesn’t seem to add up and the villagers are against an autopsy and want her body buried straight away. Dr. Eswai enlisted the help of a young student Monica (Erika Blanc) to help him perform an autopsy, but it seems Monica who hasn’t been to the village since she was born is more connected to the strange events than even she understands.

It is a simple but effective story, with a ghost haunting this village and the main characters uncovering whether it is just some superstition or whether there really is a ghost. The village and particularly the place called Villa Graps where an elderly woman live just help with the mystery and trying to work out just what exactly is going on. The production of the film was tough, with money running out weeks in and most offering to work for free. The sets really match the film, the costumes are simple and lovely, while the music score (borrowed from Blood and Black Lace) doesn’t always work it is mostly effective. With what little they had to make the film on (including working with an unfinished script) it actually turned out to be a rather intriguing and well made one.

The performances are all very solid with Erika Blanc being a stand out as Monica, and hitting all the right notes when needed. Giacomo Rossi Stuart was a good choice as Dr. Eswai and his performance is quite enjoyable, the pair had good chemistry and it is easy to watch them investigate this strange case. Kill, Baby… Kill! is a a very enjoyable film from Mario Bava and well worth watching if you haven’t explored much of his work.

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Mini Review Day 23: Les Diaboliques (1955)

French cinema is truly outstanding, so many wonderful and interesting films have been produced there and their film makers are truly one of a kind. Les Diaboliques (1955) is an absolute classic of French cinema, and a classic in the mystery/thriller/horror genres, the film is intense throughout and doesn’t let up even as it finishes, leaving audiences in almost a state of shock. Hitchcock wanted the rights to turn the book into a film but lost out, but his own works had some influence from this outstanding film and it is easy to see why.

A wife Christina (Vera Clouzot) and mistress Nicole (Simone Signoret) to a cold hearted and abusive school Principle Michel (Paul Meurisse) hatch a plan to kill the man and be free from him. They secure a solid alibi and plan the apparent perfect murder. Once they have killed Michel, the body suddenly goes missing and there are clues left behind for the women to find. Is Michel really dead or are they being stalked by someone who knows their secret?

Les Diaboliques is a smart and highly suspenseful film, proving perhaps there is no perfect murder and every bad action has its consequences. There is a flow of intensity throughout the film, taking the audience along for quite the ride, throwing lots of red herrings along the way. The film is expertly shot, it looks stunning and the performances are mostly spot on. The film had a longer shoot than expected and knowing that there was tension behind the scenes it is remarkable that such an excellent film got made without many flaws at all. The three leads do an excellent job, with Vera Clouzot being a real stand out and her performance of Christina hit all the right notes. Paul Meurisse played an abusive man very well, Michel is not at all likable and not for a second did he try to play that down. Simone Signoret was great as Nicole, a very easy performance to watch and she shared incredible chemistry with her costars.

You really can’t go wrong with this film, even if you guess how it is going to play out it is still suspenseful and shocking up until those last few seconds. This is a must see for any fan of cinema, many films were influenced by Les Diaboliques and it remains one of the best and most memorable films from France. A true gem of a murder mystery that needs not shed blood to show the true horror of human nature. See this film!

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Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

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