I went into "5 Dolls for an August Moon" with little to no expectations and it ended up being one of my favorite Mario Bava movies. The first 6 minutes go by without any dialogue and Bava handles it with visual aplomb, wordlessly introducing us to the world of the film: a plush, futuristic beachside pad on a lonely Mediterranean island where a group of the decadent, filthy rich gather for business and pleasure. These are the kind of people who pretend to murder each other for a laugh, yawn at infidelity, and sign 3 million dollar checks on a whim.
The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie
As for the "5 Dolls" of the title, well...normally I try and be the polite, respectful film critic but this time I'll just come out and say it: this movie is frontloaded with a bevy of the most gorgeous Italian woman I've ever seen, including genre stalwart Edwige Fenech ("Your Vice is a Locked Room"). They're decked out in swinging 60's fashion - and sometimes much less - but don't worry, they're as every bit conniving as their husbands in this flick: seducing, backstabbing, murdering.
Yup, it's a meat locker...full of bodies
Bava captures it all with some amazing camera work; I loved it when he devoted at least 8 shots to a bunch of marbles traveling down a stairway, all as a means to reveal the next grisly death. The soundtrack seemed to alternate between wildly inappropriate 60's lounge music and some gorgeous, melodic tracks that really fit the mood of the film. Go figure.
The infamous marble shot
I don't want to reveal much about the plot because the less you know going in to it, the better, but "5 Dolls for an August Moon" is basically an Italian thriller in the late 60's mold, with a touch of the erotic and some macabre humor. For my money it's one of Bava's most entertaining features and a definite must rent for horror aficionados. On the flipside on some DVD editions of this film is "Four Times That Night," a movie I wouldn't really recommend unless you want to see Bava apply his cinematic tricks to a sex farce (it's not much of a comedy).
You have to love 70's foreign poster art