7 June 2005 | Coventry
Mario Bava: I worship thee!
Irresistible and genuine Gothic scares, combined with atmospheric camera-work and breath-taking scenery
Welcome to yet another visual masterpiece directed by the greatest horror genius of all time: Mario Bava! "The Whip and the Body" isn't the man's most mentioned achievement, it's not even in my personal Bava-top 3 and yet I still rated it a solid 9 out of 10. That should give you somewhat an idea of how excellent his total repertoire in fact is. "The Whip and the Body" is a unique film in many ways, but particularly because of the controversial substance it dared to bring forward. Don't forget that the year of release was 1963 and Mario Bava unscrupulously introduces characters with taboo-fetishes like S & M. The story is terrifically set in the 19th century, where Kurt Menliff returns to his eminent family after being banished for several years. The family's hate towards Kurt's vile behavior is only surpassed by their fear and only the gorgeous Nevenka has a secret desire towards his wicked sexual preferences. In a particularly astonishing sequence, he whips her repeatedly (and roughly...) before continuing with making love. Terror overcomes the Menliff family when Kurt is found murdered in his room and when the tormented Nevenka begins to see his appearance in nearly every chamber of the castle. As it usually is the case in Bava's films, the plot contains quite a few holes and illogical moments, but they're totally forgivable if you acknowledge the intensity and power of the wholesome. Especially praiseworthy is Mario Bava's unequaled talent to turn totally natural things into terrifying atmosphere-elements
Blowing wind, pouring rain, footprints covered in mud...all these ordinary things turn into suspicious omens in the hands of this masterful filmmaker. With his skilled cinematographic eye, Bava perfectly knows how to raise an unbearable tension that grabs you by the neck immediately and it doesn't let go until the very last scene fades away. All the other typical Bava-trademarks are clearly present as well, namely an authentically creepy score, a minimum of stylish gore (burning, rotting corpses!!) and last but not least a stunning use of color shades. Mario plays with colors like he invented them and this emphasizes the spook-effect even more. "The Whip and the Body" is a more than just a shocking horror film. It's an offbeat love-story, a Gothic poem AND an unsettling horror tale all in one! If you love beautiful cinema, don't miss "The Whip and the Body".