Had a watch of Blue Underground’s 2007 DVD release of Mario Bava’s Shock (1977) in the wee hours this morning. This is another one of those films I have previously only ever seen on VHS (I still have my Aussie ex-rental of it on the K&C label, under its alternate title of Beyond the Door II). I believe this was Bava’s last completed film (he died in 1980), and while it may not be the perfect genre epitaph from a man whose unique style, amazing visual flair and re-defining of horror/fantasy conventions resulted in such classics as Black Sunday (1960), Blood & Black Lace (1964), Planet of the Vampires (1965), Danger: Diabolik (1968) and many more, Shock still has more than enough moments to remind you that a master is at work.
A paranormal horror in the Stephen King mould, but with a clear psychological edge and a few giallo-esque touches thrown in, Shock seems less like a classic Bava film and more an indication of the style that lay ahead for Italian genre films of the late-seventies/
early-eighties. This could be partly due to the fact that Mario Bava’s son, Lamberto, co-wrote the screenplay and directed a number of the film’s scenes for his father (Lamberto would go on to helm such 80s giallo and horror flicks as A Blade in the Dark, Demons, Demons 2 and Delirium). Shock has moments of intense atmosphere, a couple of gruesome killings that still made me wince, and some typically clever (yet simply executed) in-camera tricks which really help elevate the film in terms of style and class. The Bava father/son combination seems to have lent the film a nice mixture of bloody modern horror with old-school ambience and menace.
Daria Nicolodi is wonderful as the female lead, I’ve rarely seen her looking more beautiful and her mental disintegration over the course of the film is handled quite well. As the young boy Marco, David Colin Jr. manages to convey a sense of genuine evil at times, he has a very disturbing, creepy stare, and the scenes of him spying on his mother while she is taking a shower, pinning her down playfully on the lawn then staring at her with a clear sense of sexual menace, and stealing her panties and slicing them up, all help give the film a rather dark sexual kink that adds to its downbeat feel.
The back of the Blue Underground DVD says the soundtrack is by Goblin, but it’s actually by I Libra. It’s terrific though, and certainly sounds a lot like Goblin, and I believe there are some connections between Goblin and I Libra (Italian soundtrack enthusiasts feel free to enlighten). Unfortunately the DVD doesn’t offer English subtitles for the Italian language print, so I had to watch the English dubbed version. Doesn't seem to be on Blu-ray as yet, from what I can see...