My first contact with Mario Bava’s films was thanks to Dario Argento’s Animal Trilogy, in which Bava played a key role as Director of Cinematography. After some movies, I discovered a director that had a signature like few have.
It was 1971 and all Italy was living the Giallo phenomenon. Tons of movies with complex plots, blood and some tits, and with a quite wide spectrum of budgets ranging from Z-series to B-series. If many consider Bava the creator of the genre thanks to his movies in the late 50s and 60s, it’s easy to understand what was going inside Bava’s mind when he directed “Reazione a Catena“.
Many critics consider the movie to be a parody of the genre, others consider it the pioneer of a new genre… all of them agree that it’s one of the best Bava films.
In a quiet Italian bay resides a rich Countess who at the very beginning is killed in pure giallo fashion. But this is nothing, because soon we presence the killing of the killer. In 5 minutes Bava has exposed his new genre: the slasher. Blood, spectacular deaths, some tits here and there and constant tension: that’s Reazione a Catena.
Technically it’s an awesome film. Mixing Bava’s great ability to compose scenes with great color and complex elements along with his mastering of the zoom as a story-telling element, Reazione a Catena is a very pretty film. You’ll find plenty of scenes that will stay in your mind forever, and the worst part of them is that they are macabre as hell. Beauty meets the macabre. But even if terror is not your genre, the movie deserves a view because, I repeat, some scenes are just perfect.
In the music front, Stelvio Cipriani provides a solid soundtrack in yet another great colaboration with Bava.
And about the cast, you’ll find some great names as well. Leopoldo Trieste (I Vitelloni) playing the role of a man obsessed on insects, Claudio Volonté (Gian Maria Volonté’s brother) playing the role of a Quasimodo-esque man, and Luigi Pistilli (Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) on the role of a weak man on the hands of a woman.
Beyond the interpretation of if the movie is Bava’s parody of the giallo genre, the message is quite clear to me. Ambition and violence bring to greater ambition and violence. The ending is the perfect metaphor of this.