Shock (1977) – Film Review
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Daria Nicolodi, John Steiner, Ivan Rassimov
By Sarah Morgan
Mario Bava is a giant of horror cinema. The Italian maestro’s debut film as a director was 1960’s Black Sunday, a stylish tale of a vengeance-seeking witch. He followed it with genre classics including Black Sabbath, The Whip and the Body and A Bay of Blood.
Dora Baldini is a widow whose dead husband, Carlo, was an abusive drug addict. When we first meet her, she’s moving back into the home they once shared, this time with her and Carlo’s seven-year-old son Marco and her new husband, Bruno.
Although her experiences at Carlo’s hands left her utterly traumatised, resulting in electro-shock therapy which has resulted in some memory loss, all appears to be going well for Dora – until Marco witnesses several bizarre events around the home, turning him from a happy little boy into a disturbed monster.
Unnerved by this, she wants to leave the house, but Bruno scoffs at the idea, convinced it’s all in her seemingly still damaged mind.
Matters take an even more shocking turn when Dora’s long-repressed memories begin to return…
“Plenty of style”
As you’d expect from a Bava movie, it’s shot with plenty of style and infused with atmosphere. However, some of the special effects don’t pass muster today, which nevertheless could be overlooked if the plot didn’t seem so well-worn. We’ve seen similar stories told plenty of times both before and since, and in this case, it feels as if a short story has been spun out, which doesn’t help matters.
Daria Nicolodi, then the partner and collaborator of Dario Argento on such films as Deep Red, Inferno and Tenebrae (they also co-wrote the masterful Suspiria), seems to merely be going through the motions as Dora.
British actor John Steiner, who made most of his films on the continent, appears as Bruno, while David Colin Jr portrays Marco. The youngster is genuinely creepy, although that may be down to the way he looks and sounds as much as his performance.
Shock, regarded as an unofficial sequel to 1974’s Beyond the Door in the US, is only notable due to Bava’s involvement, and even then, it’s a sorry end to a once glittering career.
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Brand new 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative by Arrow Films
• Original Italian and English front and end titles and insert shots
• Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
• New audio commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark
• A Ghost in the House, a new video interview with co-director and co-writer Lamberto Bava
• Via Dell’Orologio 33, a new video interview with co-writer Dardano Sacchetti
• The Devil Pulls the Strings, a new video essay by author and critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
• Shock! Horror! – The Stylistic Diversity of Mario Bava, a new video appreciation by author and critic Stephen Thrower
• The Most Atrocious Tortur(e), a new interview with critic Alberto Farina
• Italian theatrical trailer
• 4 US “Beyond the Door II” TV spots
• Image gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Christopher Shy
• Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Troy Howarth, author of The Haunted World of Mario Bava
Shock is released on Blu-ray by Arrow, £24.99