Kill Baby Kill


1h 25m 1966

Brief Synopsis

The ghost of a murderous little girl haunts a village.

Film Details

Also Known As
Operazione paura
MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Foreign
Period
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Pittsburgh showing: Oct 1966
Production Company
F. U. L. Film
Distribution Company
Europix Consolidated Corp.
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Following a series of mysterious deaths in the small Transylvanian town of Karmingan, Police Commissioner Kroger is summoned by a letter from a young girl. When he arrives the girl is already dead. While performing an autopsy, Dr. Paul Eswai and his assistant, Monica Schuftan, discover a coin embedded in the victim's heart. Confronted by the physician, the witch Ruth reveals that she has driven the coin into the victim's heart to protect her shade from further harm by the Baroness Graps, who has driven the townspeople to suicide. The sorceress also discloses the baroness' motivation, describing the death some years before of 7-year-old Melissa Graps and the villagers' lack of response to her pleas for help. Discovering that Monica, Melissa's younger sister, will be the next ignorant victim, Ruth kills the baroness, thereby destroying her evil influence.

Film Details

Also Known As
Operazione paura
MPAA Rating
Genre
Horror
Foreign
Period
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
Pittsburgh showing: Oct 1966
Production Company
F. U. L. Film
Distribution Company
Europix Consolidated Corp.
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Kill, Baby..Kill! - Mario Bava's 1966 Supernatural Thriller - KILL, BABY...KILL! on DVD


Kill, Baby...Kill! (Operazione paura, 1966) offers viewers dramatic colors and compositions that are all put to the service of delivering a gothic and psychological horror film that showcase the many talents of Italian director and cinematographer Mario Bava (1914-1980). The story takes place in a small village circa 1907 where we see a young woman meet a grisly fate. Dr. Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) is summoned by Inspector Kruger (Piero Lulli) to do an autopsy, but his rational approach meets with resistance from the superstitious locals. Of course, you'd be superstitious too if you were being haunted by the ghost of a seven-year-old child who rings the bell tower whenever somebody is marked for death. These villagers know better than to ask for whom that bell is tolling, they all know it tolls for them.

Whether the prospective viewer comes away from Bava's supernatural ghost story feeling it is an "over-rated horror movie" (as listed in the book Spaghetti Nightmares by Luca M. Palmerini and Gaetano Mistretta) or enthusiastically gives it a standing ovation (as Luchino Visconti is said to have done at its premiere screening) will, ultimately, come down to a matter of taste. But if you value mood and atmosphere over modern visceral thrills there's a good chance you'll land in the latter camp. Rich color schemes, crumbling elegant buildings, mist-covered cobble-stoned streets, dusty taverns, swirling spiral stairs, and endless halls with creepy décor and art all help establish a handful of the exteriors and interiors that make the film magical. But then there are psychological interiors too, where a different form of madness seems to lurk in the corners of each inhabitant's eyes as the demonic child taps on their windows or laughs in her swing overlooking the graveyard. This last detail provides but one of many examples for what sets Bava's eye for aesthetics apart from so many other directors; it's a shot that begins with the appearance of a pendulum-like zoom into-and-away-from the graveyard that then pulls back even further to reveal the motion is the ghost child cutting dramatically, ethereally, across the frame on a rope swing that comes swooping out of nowhere. The shot is beautiful, creepy, and elegant. Later in the film there is another shot that is so absolutely inspired it warps the very fabric of space-time-continuum (it is a shot later cribbed by David Lynch in Fire Walk With Me).

With its rich visuals it's hardly a surprise to find out other directors were also influenced by this film, such as Martin Scorsese for The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Federico Fellini in Toby Dammit (1968), part of the trilogy horror film Spirits of the Dead. It's also not surprising that his own son, Lamberto Bava (also an accomplished director), should cite it as a personal favorite among all of his father's films - and keep in mind here that Mario directed or co-directed 24 features from 1960-1978. What is a surprise is that so many of the poetic effects were accomplished using the simplest means, such as rippled glass, or simple mirrors, or reflections in a water glass, with more elaborate means or dollies simply not in the meager budget, estimated at $50,000, something made possible by avoiding big-name actors who worked for half-pay with the director himself never getting paid for his own work on this film.

Bava's legacy to cinema is so vast that it would be a travesty to try to condense it here in a closing paragraph, but suffice to say that others are on the task – including Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas, whose much anticipated 1,000+ page definitive reference book, Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, may finally see the light of day soon. Lucas was an obvious choice to do the running commentary for the dvd for this film that he lovingly talks about as one that changed his life as a 14-year-old and put him on the path that led to where he is now. It's a dense and studied commentary that expertly weaves in fun trivia that alerts viewers to location shots shared by other films, such as Andy Warhol's Dracula (1974) or Bava's own Black Sunday (La Maschera del demonio, 1960), to tackling bigger thematic and structural issues addressed by the film that touch on "twinning images" and how they relate to the presentiment of death and kinship.

The Kill, Baby... Kill! dvd is due to be released by Dark Sky Films in its original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio. The film is dubbed in English and also contains a featurette starring Lamberto Bava, who talks about the film while walking around some of the locations, a still gallery, trailer, and the aforementioned commentary by Tim Lucas. However, this DVD may never see the light of day now that Anchor Bay is also releasing a new version of it in their upcoming Mario Bava box set.

by Pablo Kjolseth
Kill, Baby..kill! - Mario Bava's 1966 Supernatural Thriller - Kill, Baby...kill! On Dvd

Kill, Baby..Kill! - Mario Bava's 1966 Supernatural Thriller - KILL, BABY...KILL! on DVD

Kill, Baby...Kill! (Operazione paura, 1966) offers viewers dramatic colors and compositions that are all put to the service of delivering a gothic and psychological horror film that showcase the many talents of Italian director and cinematographer Mario Bava (1914-1980). The story takes place in a small village circa 1907 where we see a young woman meet a grisly fate. Dr. Eswai (Giacomo Rossi-Stuart) is summoned by Inspector Kruger (Piero Lulli) to do an autopsy, but his rational approach meets with resistance from the superstitious locals. Of course, you'd be superstitious too if you were being haunted by the ghost of a seven-year-old child who rings the bell tower whenever somebody is marked for death. These villagers know better than to ask for whom that bell is tolling, they all know it tolls for them. Whether the prospective viewer comes away from Bava's supernatural ghost story feeling it is an "over-rated horror movie" (as listed in the book Spaghetti Nightmares by Luca M. Palmerini and Gaetano Mistretta) or enthusiastically gives it a standing ovation (as Luchino Visconti is said to have done at its premiere screening) will, ultimately, come down to a matter of taste. But if you value mood and atmosphere over modern visceral thrills there's a good chance you'll land in the latter camp. Rich color schemes, crumbling elegant buildings, mist-covered cobble-stoned streets, dusty taverns, swirling spiral stairs, and endless halls with creepy décor and art all help establish a handful of the exteriors and interiors that make the film magical. But then there are psychological interiors too, where a different form of madness seems to lurk in the corners of each inhabitant's eyes as the demonic child taps on their windows or laughs in her swing overlooking the graveyard. This last detail provides but one of many examples for what sets Bava's eye for aesthetics apart from so many other directors; it's a shot that begins with the appearance of a pendulum-like zoom into-and-away-from the graveyard that then pulls back even further to reveal the motion is the ghost child cutting dramatically, ethereally, across the frame on a rope swing that comes swooping out of nowhere. The shot is beautiful, creepy, and elegant. Later in the film there is another shot that is so absolutely inspired it warps the very fabric of space-time-continuum (it is a shot later cribbed by David Lynch in Fire Walk With Me). With its rich visuals it's hardly a surprise to find out other directors were also influenced by this film, such as Martin Scorsese for The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and Federico Fellini in Toby Dammit (1968), part of the trilogy horror film Spirits of the Dead. It's also not surprising that his own son, Lamberto Bava (also an accomplished director), should cite it as a personal favorite among all of his father's films - and keep in mind here that Mario directed or co-directed 24 features from 1960-1978. What is a surprise is that so many of the poetic effects were accomplished using the simplest means, such as rippled glass, or simple mirrors, or reflections in a water glass, with more elaborate means or dollies simply not in the meager budget, estimated at $50,000, something made possible by avoiding big-name actors who worked for half-pay with the director himself never getting paid for his own work on this film. Bava's legacy to cinema is so vast that it would be a travesty to try to condense it here in a closing paragraph, but suffice to say that others are on the task – including Video Watchdog editor Tim Lucas, whose much anticipated 1,000+ page definitive reference book, Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, may finally see the light of day soon. Lucas was an obvious choice to do the running commentary for the dvd for this film that he lovingly talks about as one that changed his life as a 14-year-old and put him on the path that led to where he is now. It's a dense and studied commentary that expertly weaves in fun trivia that alerts viewers to location shots shared by other films, such as Andy Warhol's Dracula (1974) or Bava's own Black Sunday (La Maschera del demonio, 1960), to tackling bigger thematic and structural issues addressed by the film that touch on "twinning images" and how they relate to the presentiment of death and kinship. The Kill, Baby... Kill! dvd is due to be released by Dark Sky Films in its original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio. The film is dubbed in English and also contains a featurette starring Lamberto Bava, who talks about the film while walking around some of the locations, a still gallery, trailer, and the aforementioned commentary by Tim Lucas. However, this DVD may never see the light of day now that Anchor Bay is also releasing a new version of it in their upcoming Mario Bava box set. by Pablo Kjolseth

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Released in Rome in August 1966 as Operazione paura; running time: 85 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States October 8, 1966

Limited re-release in United States July 7, 2017 (New York)

Released in United States October 8, 1966

Limited re-release in United States July 7, 2017