Five Dolls for an August Moon

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Five Dolls for an August Moon
Original Italian poster
Directed by Mario Bava
Produced by Luigi Alessi
Written by Mario di Nardo
Starring William Berger
Edwige Fenech
Renato Rossini
Music by Piero Umiliani
Cinematography Antonio Rinaldi
Edited by Mario Bava
Produzioni Atlas Consorziate
Release dates
14 February 1970
Running time
78 min.
Country Italy
Language Italian
Box office ITL 65,000,000

Five Dolls for an August Moon (Italian: 5 bambole per la luna d'agosto) is a 1970 Italian giallo film directed by Mario Bava. It concerns a group of people who have gathered on a remote island for fun and relaxation. One of the guests is a chemist who has created a revolutionary new chemical process, and several of the attending industrialists are eager to buy it from him. Business problems become moot when someone begins killing off the attendees one by one.


At the private island retreat of wealthy industrialist George Stark (Teodor Corra), a group of people have assembled for a weekend getaway. Among the guests is Professor Gerry Farrell (William Berger), a scientist badly in need of a vacation. The first night passes uneventfully, but Farrell is enraged the next morning to discover that Stark and several of the guests planned the weekend to coerce him to sell his latest invention: a formula for industrial resin.

Farrell is immediately established as a decent man, and although his marriage to his wife, Trudy (Ira von Furstenberg), appears to be content, she is actually involved in a secret romance with Stark's artist wife Jill (Edith Meloni). Stark's business partner, Nick (Maurice Poli), is verbally abusive to his coquettish wife Marie (Edwige Fenech), but does not object to her sleeping with other men, one of whom is the houseboy and manservant Charles (Mauro Bosco). Stark is less of a husband to Jill than he is a business manager. Stark arranges for Jill to have her paintings and artwork publicly displayed and is also a source of constant criticism. The sole happy couple appears to be Nick's co-worker Jack (Renato Rossini), and his wife Peggy (Helene Ronee). Also among the guests is Isabelle (Justine Gall), a teenage girl who is in Stark's care while her parents are away.

Several months later, a well-dressed Isabelle arrives at the state prison to visit a very-much alive Farrell who is incarcerated there. It turns out that Farrell didn't develop the resin, but stole it from the real inventor after murdering him. He concocted the entire murder-for-money scheme with Trudy; Jack was an unwitting stooge. To conceal his involvement, Farrell convinced Isabelle that the others were trying to kill him, and had her drug him to make him appear dead. Isabelle pushed him out to sea, hoping someone would rescue him. His rescuers were the police on their way to Stark's island; the drug Isabelle used made him so delirious that he confessed the entire scheme. Isabelle gloats over her possession of the $3 million, and leaves Farrell to be hanged for his crimes.



Five Dolls for an August Moon was one of Bava's most obscure films, and did not receive an official American release until 2001 when Image Entertainment distributed it on DVD. After the Image disc went out of print, Anchor Bay re-released as part of the "Mario Bava Collection Volume 2" box set on 23 October 2007. The film was released in France as L'île de l'épouvante / Island of Terror. In 2013, Kino International released the film on Blu-ray in the United States.

Critical reception[edit]

AllMovie gave it two stars out of five, calling it "a confusing and not terribly exciting whodunit."[1]

In his review of the 2013 American Blu-ray release for Slant Magazine, Budd Wilkins writes "Five Dolls for an August Moon isn't top-tier Bava by any means, but for those with eyes to see, there are pleasures aplenty to be gleaned from this playfully abstract jeu d'esprit."[2]

In his commentary track for the Kino International Blu-ray release of the film, Mario Bava scholar Tim Lucas argues strongly against Bava's own assessment of the film as one of his worst and calls it one of his most beautiful and innovative films.


  1. ^ Butler, Craig. "Five Dolls for an August Moon - Review - AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Wilkins, Budd. "Five Dolls for an August Moon - Blu-Ray Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 

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