Mario Bava was completely justified in accusing Federico Fellini of deliberately stealing the apparition of a young girl with white blond hair and wearing a simple white frock, even down to the ball she bounces, all of which Fellini used in his Toby Dammit segment in Spirit of the Dead (1968). This dead 7 year old was an integral part of Bava’s narrative for his 1966 masterful gothic horror film Kill, Baby, Kill.
As the film opens we see this young child laughing at a woman who is about to commit suicide by throwing herself onto a spiked railing. Roll opening credits. Into this eerie Carpathian Village comes a stranger, Doctor Paul Eswai who notices that something must be awry because the coachman that brings him will not enter the village. Upon entering the local Inn no greetings are exchanged. The doctor is there to carry out an autopsy on the woman that impaled herself on the railings. He discovers that this is only the latest of many such strange deaths’ that have occurred in the village in the last twenty years. During the postmortem he finds a coin imbedded in the dead woman’s heart. This has been put there by a mysterious sorceress who also saves our Doctor from a brutal beating from a couple of local thugs who accuse him of defiling the dead. With never a hair out of place our gallant Physician attempts to instigate an investigation with the help of Inspector Kruger, who promptly turns up as a corpse. ‘Ah ha’ ponders our brave GP ‘me thinks the Villa Graps holds the secret to all these unexplained bizarre deaths’ The villa is like the one in Great Expectations, all cobwebs and a dried up old lady who seems to have out lived her three score years and ten. He soon discovers that it’s all down to a curse that began with the death of 7 year old Mellissa Graps who was playing with her ball in the street when she was tramped to death by some horses ridden by town folk who made no attempt to save her, so she bled to death in the dirt. Since then the village, were it would appear no one does any housework, has lived a nightmare scenario believing that this poor young child returns to be amongst the living, and those that see her: die! Well there was a lot of poverty, ignorance and good old superstition around at the time.
Its not really important who did what to whom and why, what is important is to indulge your self in the eerie atmospherics and freaky nature of a great horror movie by an Italian master. Beautifully composed jump cuts, starkly vivid colour, excellent cinematography, a great music score and some very strong performances from a talented cast. This is one of the great Giallo movies and one not to be missed. Although my copy, part of The Dead of Night Collection, was dubbed it was very well done and almost unnoticeable. Highly recommended to fans of the genre.
Movie Ramble Blog.