Kill Baby Kill
R0 - Australia - Stomp Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Jarrod Baker (22nd March 2006).
The Film

Imagine for a moment that you don't know who Mario Bava is, and know nothing of his body of work. You've never seen one of his films, and certainly haven't seen what is acclaimed by some to be one of his best, Kill Baby Kill.

If you can imagine that - and I appreciate that you might not have to strain yourself too hard - then you can understand the position I was in prior to watching this film.
Basically I had no idea what to expect - the only thing I had to go on was the DVD cover, which describes it as an "eerie gothic ghost-story-with-a-body-count". I didn't even know the year of production (the copyright note on the sleeve is 2005). It says that it's Bava's second 'Giallo' - which loosely means "thriller", typically one involving a mystery and loads of violence.

So based on the name - Kill Baby Kill - and the cover blurb and artwork, what should I have expected from this movie? A graphic, bloody horror perhaps? Or based on the title along, something, Russ Meyer-esque?

It just goes to prove that you shouldn't judge a DVD by its cover. To start with, the actual Italian title of this film is Operazione Paura, which translates as "Operation Fear". Not quite as evocative of bloodletting as Kill Baby Kill, which is somehow appropriate given that in this film all of the violence happens off-screen.

For rather than being a slasher/horror, Kill Baby Kill turns out to be a quite entertaining but certainly dated thriller in a vaguely Hitchcockian mould, about a small turn-of-the-century European town which is terrorised by the ghost of a young girl who died 20 years previously and is now regularly forcing residents to kill themselves.

The production is quite restrained, given that Bava is apparently famous for an emphasis on explicit horror and sex - there's very little of either on show here. Instead, we're treated to an old-school horror story - slightly campy, with overly theatrical lighting, music and sound effects - which has been dubbed into English from the original Italian, and along the way become occasionally unintentionally comedic.

Kill Baby Kill should be watched with one clear thought in mind - it's a product of its era, and it hasn't dated that well. But it's still quite watchable, and despite its flaws - which notably include a pretty confused and rushed plotline - it still delivers a few genuine thrills. It's just a bit of a pity that the box markets it as something it's not.

Video

Presented in 1.78:1 this anamorphic transfer is not the greatest but itís probably the best transfer currently available on DVD to date. There have been many problems with this film in the past, considering that there are no decent 35mm elements just about all the home video releases of this film have come from the 16mm elements. This DVD is no different. This transfer has a heavy amount of film grain that results in an overall soft image. Blacks are not defined but rather contain display a lot of noise and shadow detail is virtually nonexistent. This print also has many compression artefacts that inundate this image as well as print damage in the way of scratches, sparkle and other particles that show up on the print. Now despite these numerous flaws Iíve seen far worse versions of this film and considering the many problems in finding a clean 35mm print Iíd say this is by far the best English-friendly transfer weíve seen for this film.

Audio

Only one audio track is included on this release an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track. The dialogue is generally clear although a minimal amount of hiss can be heard if listened to at a high volume level. I spotted a few instances of drop out and pops in the sound but these were few and far between. Much like any Mono track the sound is predominantly front-focused and lacks any depth. Iím glad this sound wasnít nearly as damaged as the image.
This disc includes no subtitles.

Extras

The only extra is the filmís original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: E Overall: C-

 


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