October 7th, 2008


Mario Bava has directed movies about vampires (Black Sunday), suave super thieves (Diabolik) and demonic possession (Lisa and the Devil), but I never knew he did swinging ‘70’s sex comedies too.  It’s a shame that most of it is not very sexy or funny.  Oh well, you got to give the man credit for trying something different I suppose.  


The film’s structure mercilessly rips off Rashomon as we hear four different versions of how a playboy (Brett Halsey from Return of the Fly) tried to romance a hot chick (Daniela Giordano from Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key).   First the girl tells her story where the guy tried to rape her.  Then the guy tells all about how she willingly fucked him in the shower.  Next, the horny doorman tells his version which involves some hints at lesbianism.  The fourth and final version is told by some weirdo doctor, which I guess is supposed to be “the truth” or something. 


While there are a few breasts on display, all the sex stuff is rather tame and is really nothing that will get your heartbeat going.  The comedy is equally lame.  Seriously, fat guys running in fast motion while comic music plays is only funny if your name is Benny Hill.  The biggest problem with the film though is the structure.  I mean the premise was thin to begin with and the fact that it’s repeated no less than FOUR times (albeit in slightly different versions) doesn’t exactly do the film any favors either. 


Four Times That Night could’ve been an interesting departure for Bava enthusiasts.  I personally love me some Bava, but even I have to admit that parts of this thing were pretty tough to get through.  Bava bathes everything in rich eye-popping color, but it’s easy to see that bedroom comedy, hippie go-go dancing and stupid comic relief doormen are clearly not his specialty. 


Halsey gets the only funny line of dialogue when he tells Giordano, “I’m a wild man with turbo hormones!”


A wealthy inventor invites a bunch of dudes and their hot sluts to his fancy schmancy house for a weirdo cocktail party.  When it comes out that he’s just invented some top secret formula and is going to receive a huge payday from it, people start dropping like flies and end up hanging in the meat locker. 


Five Dolls for an August Moon is a middle of the road giallo from the maestro of Italian horror, Mario Bava.  Reportedly, Bava didn’t like the script (which shamelessly rips off Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians) and only directed the movie for the money; and it really shows.  If anything it plays like a rough draft of his classic Twitch of the Death Nerve.  As with that film, it doesn’t matter who lives and who dies, but how they die that really counts.  (The meat locker scenes are Bava’s none-too-subtle way of conveying that he thinks of his characters as merely pieces of meat.)  Unlike Twitch, the deaths are all pretty bland and mostly happen off screen, which is quite a letdown to be sure.


The flick at least has the benefit of some atmospheric moments, most of which revolve around the inventor’s state-of-the-art house.  Even though Bava was just going through the motions on this one, he still does a competent job behind the camera and holds the viewer’s attention for the most part.  Five Dolls for an August Moon may only be a minor entry in the master’s oeuvre, but if you’re a Bava completist like me, you’ll find it to be somewhat rewarding.


AKA:  Island of Terror.