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Dr. Eswai is called by Inspector Kruger to a small village to perform an autopsy on a woman who has died under suspicious circumstances. Despite help from Ruth, the village witch, Kruger is killed and it is revealed that the dead woman, as well as other villagers, have been killed by the ghost of Melissa, a young girl who, fed by the hatred of her grieving mother, Baroness Graps, exacts her revenge on them. Dr. Eswai, along with Monica, a local nurse, are lured into a fateful confrontation at the Villa Graps. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mario Bava's movies are much better than the average horror menu.His directing remains sober but extremely skillful.Only strong stories are lacking.It's Dario Argento in reverse:the "uccello della piume de cristal" director has complex scripts but his directing ,all show,often gets in the way.Argento's scripts with Bava's direction,it's a dream that would never come true.
"Operation fear" (exact equivalent of the Italian title)is a stupid title ,which makes think of a detective story-it's partly one though-or a spy thriller.Actually,it's the umpteenth version of a doctor who arrives in an ominous place ,where the inhabitants seem to be cursed. Influenced by Robert Wise's "the haunting" (1963) and Jack Clayton's "the innocents"(1961),Bava's movie ,on the other hand,might have had a strong influence on Fellini's segment in "trepassi nel delirio"("Toby Dammit")(1968):the little girl playing with a ball is featured in both works.The doctor ,trying to impose his science to superstitious villagers ,and who understands that his knowledge is helpless ,predates the famous "Sleepy Hollow" hero,the sleuth,whose science and logic are put through the mill.
The extraordinary film sets make up for the triteness of the script:the camera is almost always mobile,constantly in control of the space,but without Argento's show off.There are long wanderings along narrow blue-tinted alleys,long corridors,vertiginous stairs,with baroque rooms adorned with deceptive mirrors .The characters seem to be prisoners of the backgrounds,as if they were caught in a cobweb.It's no coincidence if ,when the hero enters the inn for the first time,the people seem to have turned to stone:the set bearings create a feeling of discomfort. Almost everything happens by night,or in the darkness of an old mansion.The last picture displays a red rising sun.
A movie in which content takes a back seat to form.
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