Sunday, July 11, 2010


Original Title: 5 bambole per la luna d'agosto
Year: 1970
Director: Mario Bava
Writer: Mario di Nardo
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

A small group of people come to an island to relax but soon find themselves trapped on the island with a murderer in their midst.

Countdownsploitation Number FIVE

One thing you hear from many many genre fans is how fantastic Mario Bava is. I will say what little I have seen of his when taking his entire catalogue into account has looked phenomenal, but as overall films they are very hit or miss.

This was unfortunately a miss for me.

5 Dolls was a bit of an unconventional giallo. We don't get the standard first person slasher style killings found in gialli, instead getting a slightly claustrophobic tale with a limited group of suspects as well as victims. The film was decently acted and fabulously shot, but some story elements seemed a bit forced in a way, and it all felt a little slow to me overall... dragging in spots when it really did not need to.

The cast features a whole host of somewhat recognizable faces for me, but no names ring a bell outside of William Berger who was in such films as Keoma, Nick the Sting, and a fantastic looking piece of Lamberto Bava garbage called Devil Fish, and the lovely and always magnetic Edwige Fennech from all sorts of shit where she probably shows her immaculate tits. Teodoro Corrà looked very very familiar as George, but even after looking at his IMdB, I still cannot figure out where I might know him from.

The characters here were more or less believable outside of a few dips into melodrama, but no one outside the temptress Marie played by Fennech really stood out for me. What helped far more in my enjoyment of the film was the ideas and style over any performances.

The name 5 Dolls refers to bagged corpses hanging in a walk-in freezer. I don't believe that is a huge spoiler as the deaths are simply a side effect of the story's progression. I will not say who ends up in the freezer, but the image of the corpses swinging slightly along with almost playful music as if a marionette was dancing was very good. It's one that will stick with you long after the film is over. There is another amazing set up by Bava with glass balls rolling down stairs and across a floor that is a grand sight indeed.

This is what the film had going most for it - Bava's style, angles, etc. coming through and putting a very nice polish on an otherwise average film experience for me. Regardless of what I feel about the plot and acting in Bava's films, his lighting, angles, closeups, etc. are almost always very, very impressive. The film opens great with Bava slowly zooming into every character's eyes as they all sit around watching Fennech write about half nekkid on a table.

By the time the film wraps up, I was kind of confused about certain character's intentions, or where/who one of them even was. While this could certainly be blamed on my being a dumbass, I think it is safe to blame the writing just a bit as well. Characters will go from angry and distrusting to fine again in the same breath, and for a killer to be loose on a small island, so many characters seem amazingly calm. In a way it feels like a stylized stage play when all is said and done.

It's not a terrible film by any means. Bava's style alone makes this worth seeing... not to mention a little nudity here and there (but could have been more!). There are better thrillers/gialli out there from this era (as we will see in my next review).

Recommended but not highly.

Score: 6.5 / 10

No comments: