Kill, Baby, Kill

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Kill, Baby, Kill
Directed by Mario Bava
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • Romano Migliorini
  • Roberto Natale[1]
Story by
  • Romano Migliorini
  • Roberto Natale
  • Mario Bava[1]
Music by Carlo Rustichelli[1]
Cinematography Antonio Rinaldi[1]
Edited by Romana Fortini[1]
F.U.L. Film
Distributed by I.N.D.I.E.F.
Release date
  • July 8, 1966 (1966-07-08) (Italy)
Running time
83 minutes[1]
Country Italy
Box office ₤201 million

Kill, Baby, Kill (Italian: Operazione paura) is a 1966 Italian horror film by director Mario Bava. It is considered to be one of Bava's best films and one of the greatest horror films of all time.


One of the more prominent works of Italy's premier horror stylist Mario Bava, this occult murder mystery interweaves elements of the traditional giallo thriller formula with an unusual Gothic ghost story. In a turn-of-the-century Carpathian village a series of murders are occurring in which the victims are found with silver coins embedded in their hearts. The coins are revealed to be talismans placed on the victims by the town witch (Fabienne Dali), meant to ward off the supernatural powers of the aged Baroness Graps (Giana Vivaldi). The baroness has been performing these duties for the ghost of her murdered daughter, who wants to claim the villagers' souls. In order to free the village from the curse, the witch must find the sequestered baroness and destroy her.



Kill, Baby, Kill was director Mario Bava's return to gothic horror.[1] The film was funded by the small Italian company F.U.L. Film.[1] According to Bava, the film was shot in 12 days.[1]

The exterior scenes were filmed on location in the medieval town Calcata.[2]


Kill, Baby, Kill was released in Italy on July 8, 1966 and was distributed by I.N.D.I.E.F.[1] It grossed a total of 201 million Italian lira on its initial theatrical release.[1] It was released on October 8, 1966 in the United States where it was distributed by Europix Consolidated Corp.[1] In the United Kingdom, it was titled Curse of the Dead and on a re-issue in the United States, the film was re-titled Curse of the Living Dead.[1]

In 2007, the home video company Dark Sky Films attempted to release Kill, Baby, Kill on home video.[3] After assuming the rights had been secured, the company proceeded to purchase the licensing rights to the film for the United States.[3] Dark Sky Films was then sued by Alfredo Leone, who stated that he owned the rights to the film and had recently sold the rights to the company Anchor Bay Entertainment.[3] The courts sided with Leone and Anchor Bay, while Dark Sky Films who had already pressed DVDs of the film had to cancel the release.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Slant Magazine called it "arguably Bava's greatest achievement", giving it four stars out of a possible four.[4] Slant Magazine also ranked it number 55 on their list of the top 100 horror films of all time.[5] Bava biographer Tim Lucas described the film as a "mixture of pure poetry and pulp thriller, distinguished by vivid, hallucinogenic cinematography...jolts into the realms of free-form delirium and dementia. The spectre of little Melissa Graps, with her white lace dress and bouncing white ball, is perhaps the most influential icon of Italian horror cinema, having been copied in countless other films, notably Federico Fellini...and the film itself has been an admitted influence on such directors as Martin Scorsese and David Lynch."[6] In 2016, Time Out conducted a poll with several authors, directors, actors and critics who have worked within the horror genre to vote for their top horror films. Kill, Baby... Kill! was ranked number 70 on the list of the top 100 horror films of all time.[7]

Taste of Cinema observed that "Martin Scorsese called this Bava's best film...probably the most successful realization of Gothic horror-meets-bad-acid-trip."[8] Scott Beggs said "This might be Bava’s greatest achievement, and he doesn’t hold out on the lush production design or the trippy camera tricks."[9] Derek Hill designated Kill, Baby, Kill! as "one of his best efforts and what is arguably one of the most effective and chilling supernatural gothic horror films of all time. It has influenced Federico Fellini...Martin Scorsese...Kill, Baby, Kill! creates such a palpable mood of dread and oppression in its first few minutes and so effectively sustains the momentum until the last frame that it is easy to see why it has cast such a quiet legacy on other filmmakers."[10] James Travers noted that it was "one of the most unsettling and chillingly atmospheric films in the entire horror genre...the colour-saturated chiaroscuro and unsettling camera positionings give the film an ethereal, brooding unreality, which the discordant score of Bava's most understated films."[11] Jeffrey M. Anderson commented that "Bava has never presented his moods so vividly and with such effervescence."[12] Allmovie called the film "an eerie and atmospheric effort that reflects many of the elements that have made the popular Italian director's films so compelling: excellent cinematography and strong performances from the talented cast."[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Curti 2015, p. 159.
  2. ^ Hughes, p.82
  3. ^ a b c d Shipka 2011, p. 27.
  4. ^ Ed Gonzalez (15 June 2003). "Kill, Baby...Kill!". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "The 100 Greatest Horror Films of All Time". 28 October 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  6. ^ Lang Thompson. "TCM Imports - The Films of Mario Bava". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 8 July 2016. 
  7. ^ "The 100 best horror films". Time Out. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  8. ^ Scot Mason. "10 Essential Mario Bava Films Every Horror Fan Should See". Taste of Cinema. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Scott Beggs. "Mario Bava's 'Kill, Baby, Kill!'". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Derek Hill. "Kill, Baby...Kill!". Images Journal. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  11. ^ James Travers. "Kill Baby, Kill! (1966)". Film de France. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  12. ^ Jeffrey M. Anderson. "Kill, Baby...Kill! (1966)". Combustible Celluloid. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Patrick Legare. "Kill, Baby, Kill (1966)". Allmovie. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 


  • Curti, Roberto (2015). Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1957-1969. McFarland. ISBN 1476619891. 
  • Shipka, Danny (2011). Perverse Titillation: The Exploitation Cinema of Italy, Spain and France, 1960-1980. McFarland. ISBN 0786486090. 
  • Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano - The Complete Guide From Classics To Cult. London - New York: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-608-0. 
  • Staff (2004). The Scarecrow Movie Guide. Seattle: Sasquatch Books. p. 17. ISBN 1-57061-415-6. 

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