Twitch of the Death Nerve (Reazione a Catena) (1971) (NTSC)

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Released 25-Oct-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Custom Play-Murder Menu
Radio Spots-2
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photos And Posters
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 84:11
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Mario Bava
Studio
Distributor
International Media
Stomp Visual
Starring Claudine Auger
Luigi Pistilli
Claudio Camaso
Anna Maria Rosati
Cristea Avram
Leopoldo Trieste
Laura Betti
Brigitte Skay
Isa Miranda
Paola Montenero
Guido Boccaccini
Roberto Bonanni
Giovanni Nuvoletti
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Stelvio Cipriani


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    A bayside community is home to some odd characters and several murders. And several murderers. There's a complicated plot concerning the inheritance of some valuable land, which belonged to a countess who we see murdered in the first few minutes. Then her murderer is himself murdered. So who is the real killer? Or is there a real killer?

    This film is generally cited as the progenitor of the slasher film genre. During the course of the movie some thirteen murders take place, in various painful and often gory ways. I have to admit I'm not a gorehound nor a fan of the slasher movie genre, and I have studiously avoided seeing most of the films of this type made in the last twenty-five years. Watching this movie confirms my prejudice against this sort of film, as the extreme and unnecessary violence just leaves me with a sick feeling. It's as if the director and his crew were revelling in the bloodbath, lingering too long on the details of the killings, which just makes it exploitative and distasteful.

    That having been said, I wonder if the aim of Mario Bava in this film was some sort of satire. Some of the killings are rather comic, for example the murder of the two copulating lovers in their bed where their twitching bodies continue to enact their lovemaking even in the throes of death. The ending is quite laughable and seems to make a mockery of what has come before. If the humour is intentional, it is mostly very wry and not always immediately obvious.

    While most of the characters are unlikable, grasping types, there are a couple of people who seem to be there for comic relief. This is the couple played by Fellini alumni Leopoldo Trieste, as an eccentric bug collector, and Laura Betti as his fortune-telling wife, complete with Medusa-style hairdo. There is also a fisherman who kills his catch (squid) in the traditional manner - by biting it to death.

    Mario Bava is recognised as a master of cinematic technique, and there are some fine things in this movie. It comes though towards the tail end of his career. While only 57 at the time of shooting he struggled to make films after this one, and his next attempt in this genre, his final film Shock, is truly awful. This one at least is stylish and shows some creativity and intelligence though it is not as suspenseful as his best work. That work came in the 1960s, in such classics of the horror genre as Black Sunday, Black Sabbath and Kill, Baby, Kill.

    Twitch of the Death Nerve has something of an identity crisis, there being multiple alternative titles. While Twitch is the title given on the case, the actual print has the title A Bay of Blood, also an American release title. The original title seems to have been Reazione a Catena, which translates as Chain Reaction, though an alternative Italian name is Antefatto-Ecologia del Delitto, or Before the Fact-Ecology of a Crime. It has also been titled Bloodbath Bay of Blood, Bloodbath Bay of Death, Last House on the Left Part II and Carnage, amongst others.

    I'm sure that fans of this type of film will respond better to it than I have, and indeed it is probably better than any other film I have seen in this genre. Not that I've managed to sit through too many of them.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The case proudly proclaims that the movie is in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. I somehow doubt that, and would tend to believe the IMDb which records it as 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced and in NTSC format, being an import of the Region 1 release.

    This is probably as good a release of this movie as we are going to see, though it is by no means perfect. Throughout the running time sharpness is very good and detail levels are strong. Colour is good, with the red levels only seeming heavily saturated at sporadic intervals, unlike some other discs from the same source that I have recently reviewed. Flesh tones are good except in low lighting levels, where they seem excessively brown.

    In fact it is only in low lighting that most of the problems with this transfer are apparent. Low level noise is often visible, especially during the opening sequence. I do not think I missed anything because of the poor shadow detail, but it is barely adequate in any case. Macro-blocking can be seen at 27:50.

    There is some Gibb Effect noticeable in the daytime sequences but fortunately there is no edge enhancement. Film artefacts abound, indicating that no restoration of the admittedly good quality print was attempted. There are scores of small flecks, tiny vertical scratches and occasional damage, such as at 7:34. There is a splice mark at 38:55.

    There are no subtitles, which is an issue for two notes written in Italian which appear on screen, and obviously have some importance in the plot.

    The disc is single-layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono and is the English dub of the film.

    As dubbed soundtracks go, this is not a bad one. It looks like some of the actors were actually delivering their lines in English, or at least the Italian words have similar lip movements to the English version. The voices are reasonably consonant with the appearances of the actors and issues with lip syncing are not quite as bad as they might have been.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, more so than the motivations of some of the characters, but only if one turns the volume up. Unfortunately the audio is quite restricted in dynamic range and there is some serious hiss and distortion. There is also some crackling.

    The music score is not too shabby, ranging from the typical dramatic chords of the thriller genre to a soaring piano and orchestra theme that would not seem out of place in a 1940s Hollywood love story. The balance between the music and the dialogue is not good, as the music is far too loud when the dialogue is at a reasonable volume level. This may have been intentional or at least the way the English dub was mastered.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The menu features audio from the score.

Murder Menu

    This is alternate scene selection access to each of the murders, for your viewing pleasure.

Radio Spots (1:04)

    Selecting this option plays a 60-second radio advertisement followed immediately by a 30-second version. All patrons must be warned face to face before watching this movie.

Theatrical Trailer (3:06)

    Issued for the re-release of the movie under the title Carnage, this is an effective trailer which has most of the visuals posterised into primary colours.

Gallery-Photos And Posters (2:13)

    A selection of posters for various incarnations of the movie plus some publicity stills.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This release has been sourced from the Region 1 release from Image, minus some of the extras. In comparison to the Region 1, the Region 4 misses out on:

    The Region 1 misses out on

    Not really anything of substance here, but if you want your copy with the cover art undefaced, then Region 1 is the way to go.

Summary

    A stylish, well-directed slasher film that will appeal to fans of that type of film. If you are interested in cinema generally and have a strong stomach, you might want to see this for its cinematic qualities.

    The video quality is good but not great.

    The audio quality is not so good.

    No extras of any great worth.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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Comments (Add)
Australian Premiere - Tony