When we think about Italian horror one of the master,s and arguably the best, would be Mario Bava. Even his lesser films have a certain style that make them still enticing to the viewer, and Five Dolls for an August Moon is a good example of that. Just how does this oddity fair with Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release..?
On a weekend retreat on a private Island a wealthy industrialist, George Stark (Teodora Corra) has gathered a group of friends. One of these being a scientist who holds the key to a discovery that could make them all rich. As he tries to put the deal together, it’s not long before the group start dying one by one, but who is the culprit behind the murders?
Five Dolls for an August Moon is an homage of a kind to Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians and while it is a fairly weak film in Bava’s standards his style shines through the weaknesses to impress the audience. Whether it is the use of colour, or imaginative imagery to keep the story flowing it is fair to say that the film does grow on you. While the killer is easy to work out if you take notice of what is being hinted on the screen, there is still a twist to liven things up.
On the commentary track included by Mario Bava biographer Tim Lucas he details the problems that Bava had with this movie, and in many ways this gives an understanding to its weaknesses. This is apparently a movie that the director was almost forced to do, and came into it with a view of fixing a production already planned out. With this in mind it becomes a much more impressive film, especially when Bava has managed to put his own style on to it, and in turn improve what we see.
In addition to this we also get a documentary profiling the director, Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre. This is hosted by Mark Kermode and features many interviews by top directors. It is a good look at the history of the director and what makes him so loved in the horror genre, and beyond. It is good to see that even though this is obviously not one of Bava’s best Arrow give us some interesting special features, and in providing us with the Lucas commentary get a fairly good evaluation of why the film fails in parts, but also redeems itself in many other ways.
As a fan of Mario Bava’s style and what he brings to the screen I do like Five Dolls for an August Moon, but at first I did struggle with it. The fact is that the movie starts off at a pace and it can be quite jarring to the senses at first. Once you are used to this, and understand where Bava is taking his decadent group of characters you begin to enjoy the story being told, and want to see it till the end. It may be an oddity, but Five Dolls for an August Moon not only has a memorable name, but has a Bava edge that will keep you hooked till the end.
Five Dolls for an August Moon is out now on Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray in the UK.