A Bay of Blood  

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Twitch of the Death Nerve (Italian title: Ecologia del delitto) is a 1971 Italian horror thriller film directed by Mario Bava. Bava cowrote the screenplay with Giuseppe Zaccariello, Filippo Ottoni and Sergio Canevari, with story credit given to Dardano Sacchetti and Franco Barberi. The film stars Claudine Auger, Luigi Pistilli, and Laura Betti. Carlo Rambaldi created the gruesome special makeup effects.

The story details the simultaneous murderous activities of several different characters as they each attempt to remove any human obstacles that stand in the way of an inheritance. Easily Bava’s most intensely violent film, its emphasis on graphically bloody murder set pieces was hugely influential on the slasher and splatter films that would follow a decade later. In 2005, the magazine Total Film named Twitch of the Death Nerve one of the 50 greatest horror films of all time.


At night in her bayside mansion, wheelchair-bound Countess Federica Donati is attacked and strangled to death by her husband Filippo Donati. Moments later, Filippo himself is stabbed to death by an assailant, and his corpse is then dragged to the bay. Upon investigation, the police find what they believe to be a suicide note written by the Countess, but Donati's murder goes undiscovered.

Real estate agent Frank Ventura and his lover Laura are plotting to take possession of the bay. After the Countess refused to sell her home and property to them, the couple hatched a scheme with Donati to murder his wife. To finalize their plan, Ventura needs Donati's signature on a set of legal documents. They have no idea, however, that Donati himself has been killed.

Their curiosity piqued by news of the murder, four local teenagers break into the seemingly deserted mansion and are murdered. The Countess's illegitimate son Simon is the killer. After killing Donati, he is now conspiring with Ventura, who offers Simon a large cash pay-off in exchange for signing the relevant legal documents. Their scheme is dealt a potentially ruinous blow when Countess Federica's estranged daughter Renata appears, determined to ensure that her mother's estate comes into her possession. A search for the Countess's will proves unsuccessful, and Ventura, who believes that Renata may be the rightful beneficiary, urges Simon to kill his half-sister.

Accompanied by her husband Albert, and leaving their young son and daughter in a caravan nearby, Renata visits the house of Paolo Fassati, an entomologist who lives on the grounds of Donati's estate. Fossati's wife Anna tells them that Donati was responsible for the Countess's death, and says that Simon will probably end up with the property. Renata, who had no idea she had a half-brother, makes plans with her husband to murder Simon.

After discovering Donati's mangled and rotting corpse on Simon's boat, Renata and Albert head to Ventura's house. Upon their arrival, Ventura attacks Renata, but Renata gains the upper hand and stabs Ventura with a butterfly knife. Paolo Fassati, who witnesses the assault, attempts to telephone the police but is confronted by Albert, who strangles him to death. To ensure there are no additional witnesses, Renata decapitates Anna with an axe.

Ventura's partner Laura arrives, planning to meet up with him. When Simon discovers that it was the pair who had plotted with Donati to kill his mother, he strangles Laura to death. No sooner has he exacted his revenge than Simon himself is murdered by Albert. The wounded Ventura reappears, but Albert kills him after a brief struggle.

Secure in the knowledge that there are now no other living heirs, Albert and Renata prepare to return home to await the announcement of their inheritance, when they are shot dead from the caravan by their son, who has mistaken their shotgun for a toy. Thinking that their parents are playing dead, the son and daughter rush off outside to play along the bay.


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