Halloween Endurance Test: Kill Baby… Kill! (1966)

Five minutes into Mario Bava’s Kill Baby… Kill! and we’ve already reached our first Dracula crib. A doctor traveling to a village, via stagecoach, and the driver won’t actually enter the town. Leaving the doctor on the outskirts, a la Dracula‘s Borgo Pass scene. This is the third film in this Bava box set draw from vampire lore. (The other two being Black Sunday and Black Sabbath.)

Hell, the pre-title sequence borrows pretty liberally from Hitchcock’s Vertigo as well. Only Bava does the smart thing, and not only has the girl leap from a tower, but then shows her being pierced by the iron fencing. Misogyny, another Hitchcock-ian mainstay used here!

So the doctor is sent to the village to investigate the girl’s death. The villagers live in fear of who, or what, murdered her, and don’t want an autopsy done. Unfortunately, the lighting spoils the mood of the autopsy freak-out scene, as everything’s too well lit to be creepy. The graveyard set is obviously a graveyard set.

After finishing with the autopsy, the doctor is beset by thugs. Where the doctor meets another of Bava’s muses: tall, domineering, brunettes. This one is the Eastern European equivalent of a Haitian voodoo priest; only mysterious in a attractive way.

We find that the village is being terrorized by the blond ghost of a little girl. Who will curse you to die. The only way to break the curse? Whippings from the high priestess of pain.

As all this is going on in the village, the doctor is also being warned away from the Villa Graps; where no one ever returns. As if any place would be played up to be scarier than the village we’re currently watching.

Did I mention the name of the village inspector is ‘Kruger?’ This film’s overflowing with imaginary symbolism!

Finally making his way to the Villa Graps, the doctor meets Mrs. Graps; a character lifted lock, stock and barrel out of Black Sabbath’s the Drop of Water story. A sickly older woman who stares at herself in the mirror, seeing a ghoulish self-reflection. We also meet the younger, harbinger of death, little girl too, who we find is a younger, more murderous, Mrs. Graps.

They’re almost too much happening in this film. An investigation, a cursed girl, a ghost girl, a girl about to be cursed, all angles are covered! As the movie itself attempts to explain, the village “suffers from the memory of a curse.” Good luck warding that off, let alone just explaining it!

Something about the Graps’ daughter being killed by drunken villagers; and she’s now enacting revenge. Don’t let the convoluted story throw you off though, there’s plenty of visual goodness to keep you occupied.

Take, for instance, the scene where the doctor runs through the same room 10-15 times. Each time he runs through, he picks up some speed. Soon he’s moving fast enough to spy someone leaving just as he’s entering. So he runs faster, eventually catching up to the man, who’s identified as the doctor! He caught himself in some sort of time trap. This is straight out of Something Weird!

What? Not strange enough for you? Well, after catching himself, the doctor backs up into a wall adorned with a painting of the Villa Graps, gets caught in the spider web, and ends up transported, half-dead, outside the Villa Graps. All done with the best special effects 1966 had to offer!


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