Also known as: Operazione paura (Italy), Curse of the Living Dead
Release Date: July 8th, 1966 (Italy)
Directed by: Mario Bava
Written by: Romano Migliorini, Roberto Natale, Mario Bava
Music by: Carlo Rustichelli
Cast: Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Erika Blanc, Fabienne Dali, Giana Vivaldi, Micaela Esdra
F.U.L. Film, I.N.D.I.E.F., 83 Minutes
Widely considered to be one of Mario Bava’s best pictures and one of the greatest horror films of its time, Kill, Baby Kill is also a pretty mesmerizing and hypnotic experience. It lures you in with its beauty and it holds you in place with its mystery and suspense.
The title may be a bit misleading, as it comes off as some sort of 1960s go-go dancer murder flick. The film is actually a gothic ghost story that takes place in Transylvania. Despite the location, it isn’t a vampire film.
A small Romanian village in the late 1800s sees its people being singled out and stalked by the ghost of a dead little girl. A science-minded skeptical doctor is sent there to do an autopsy. As the story rolls on, he begins investigating the strange happenings and deaths. He also comes into contact with the ghost girl.
Kill, Baby Kill is well directed, well shot and the cinematography is superb. The use of bright colors in contrast to darkness throughout the film is reminiscent of Bava’s giallo films but the added element of gothic looking mansions and graveyards gives the film a sense of atmospheric dread that doesn’t exist as strongly in those colorful giallo pictures.
Contrary to what was the norm, at the time, Kill, Baby Kill is not a very predictable mystery. You never really know if there are actual supernatural happenings going on or if our skeptical hero is going to uncover the truth and be able to explain the mystery scientifically, exposing an elaborate ruse. It is kind of like an episode of the X-Files, in a lot of ways.
Mario Bava was just as good at creating great gothic horror as he was at giallo. Kill, Baby Kill is just another example of this.